The Bush administration has taken over the nation

The refusal of most of the media to take on the neocons has contributed to the demise of democracy.

In just six short but tumultuous years, the Bush administration has proved how fragile our democracy is and how difficult it is to protect and defend. In control of The White House and the two Houses of Congress and with plenty of help from the pusillanimous Democrats, the neocons have transformed America from at least a putative democracy into what I would term a far rightwing fundamentalist plutocratic oligarchy (or oligarchic plutocracy, take your choice.)

Opponents of the administration constantly claim President George W. Bush is in denial about the true nature of his war of choice in Iraq, but no more so than a lax, what-me-worry American public about their vanishing nation.

To most of us, the demise of our democracy is no more of a reality than is the war in Iraq. The war does not affect most of us directly, even though we and our descendants will be paying for it for generations to come. Only when a loved one gets killed or wounded does the bitter, shocking reality of war come stinging home with a vengeance.

What will it take to wake up the public as to what the president and Congress are doing to the Constitution and the rights and freedoms it has guaranteed for more than 200 years? Is it too late to stop this nefarious movement? Will it make a difference if the Democrats regain control of the House or Senate? How much more damage can the neocons do in the remaining two years of the Bush presidency? And, what if the neocons yet again outsmart and perhaps cheat the Democrats in the presidential election of 2008?

There is no doubt in my mind that the refusal of most of the media to take on the neocons has greatly contributed to the demise of our democracy. The day is long past when newspapers championed the cause of “the little guy.” With very few exceptions, newspapers are far closer economically and philosophically to the neocons than to “the little guy.” Ditto the electronic media. Some exceptions would be the brilliant editorials in The New York Times (few of which are reprinted here) about the crimes of the Bush administration and the little-read niche newspapers and magazines. Also, very few topical books find their way into mainstream newspapers. (How many people discovered the superb political analyst and writer Noam Chomsky thanks not to a review of one his books in their local newspaper but to Hugo Chávez’s rant at the United Nations?)

With the current races for Congress, local reporters, columnists and editorialists have a real chance to cover national and international affairs as well as important state and local matters. I do not see them availing themselves of this opportunity to any great extent with the exception of the excellent editorials in the Star Tribune assailing the Bush administration.

The Pioneer Press’s daily coverage of what I consider the important stories of the day usually tops that of the Strib, but the Pi Press falls far short when it comes to editorials. Is that the policy of its new ownership or is it a local failure of imagination and courage?

The electronic media never editorialize, but some have risen to the current challenge by giving voice to more diverse views across the political spectrum. This is to be applauded and encouraged with letters to the editor and private correspondence to their management.

But the fact remains that the Bush administration has taken over the nation, is tearing it apart limb from limb and unless the media rouse the public from its American Idle torpor, this country will remain in decline and be forever changed for the worse – not only to the lasting detriment of its citizens, but for all of the peoples of the world.

In 1935, Minnesota native Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel titled “It Can’t Happen Here.” I reread it four years ago and have been trying to get it reprised in the local and national media with no success, save People’s Weekly World (www.pww.org), for which I wrote the review. It is eerily prescient in its portrayal of the takeover of America by a religion-crazed fascistic figure. There is a stage version of the book, I’m told, but to my knowledge it never has been presented here or anywhere else, nor does anyone in the local theater community seem aware of it, much less willing to do it.

If you’re content with the status quo, I probably cannot convince you that drastic change is needed immediately to save America from its internal conquerors. But if you believe that America not only is on the wrong track in Iraq but at home, then you must act now by every peaceful, legal means.

It can happen here, and it is.

Will Shapira is a Minneapolis resident. Please send comments to [email protected]