Democracy or Autocracy?

Woodrow Wilson noted that some people who get into high office in Washington grow with the job, while others simply swell. John Ashcroft, the right-wing ideologue who was named by George W. Bush to be America's attorney general, has swollen up like roadkill on a blistering hot day.

Using terrorism as his excuse, the arrogant and inept Ashcroft has defiled our Constitution, engaged in massive racial profiling, jailed thousands of innocent people in a political ploy to look like he's "doing something," arbitrarily set up secret star chambers that subvert our judicial system, and made such a mockery of good American police work that his autocratic tactics have been rejected by some of his own FBI officials, some local police departments, and some of our European allies. Meanwhile, he has not nailed a single terrorist.

But the new attorney general has managed to come down hard on one group: U.S. citizens who dare to criticize him! Indeed, like a tinhorn tyrant, Ashcroft recently went before a Senate committee where he stamped his tiny feet and proclaimed that anyone who even raises questions about the administration's antiterrorism blundering is using tactics that "aid terrorists" and provide "ammunition to America's enemies."

Well isn't this a special development! Now the Bushites have become so imperious that they've declared it to be treasonous for us Americans to object to their usurpation of our Constitutional rights, including our right to criticize their idiocy. Sen. Jeff Sessions, added to this anti-democratic crack down on our basic rights by puffing himself up and asserting that critics "erode unity in our country and undermine respect for our leadership."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Hey John, Jeff, George -- let's review Americanism 101. What undermines respect in a democracy is not when the public criticizes leaders, but when the leaders try to muzzle the public. You can't unify people by labeling anyone who disagrees with you a traitor. That's dictatorship, not democracy.

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