Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence,” Atlantic, July 12, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/the-near-certainty-of-anti-police-violence/490541/
It happened I was teaching on the day that Barack Obama was first inaugurated as president in the U.S. As I was lecturing, I hadn’t actually seen a report that the inauguration had happened. I wound up asking my class if anyone knew whether the inauguration had actually transpired. It had, of course, and two terms later, it’s easy to forget the fear that some on the left felt that George W. Bush might cling to power through some means even as his term expired and to dismiss that fear as paranoia.
In evaluating that fear, it’s important to place it in context. Bush had presided over war crimes; two invasions, at least one of which was illegal, and neither of which was accompanied by a declaration of war; passage of the Patriot Act; and what was then suspected to be and what Edward Snowden would later confirm to be mass surveillance of U.S. residents. He had advanced the neoconservative, neoliberal, and social conservative agendas; rationalized all of it with a smug self-righteousness; and governed under a doctrine of the “unitary presidency” that, in essence, alloted dictatorial or at least near-dictatorial powers to the president. He ignored Supreme Court rulings regarding habeas corpus rights of detainees at Guantanamo. He had dismissed the U.S. Constitution as nothing more than a “piece of paper.” On top of all that, he had been awarded the presidency by a Supreme Court decision halting the recount in Florida in 2000, and reelected in 2004 in part by disenfranchising Blacks, notably with an insufficient number of balloting locations in urban precincts in Ohio which were expected to swing Democratic. He was not a person the left could trust to abide by the Constitution, especially when it came to relinquishing power.
As it turned out, Obama embraced and extended many of these policies, but it’s important to take note of transitions when they occur. They shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even when they occur in less suspicious circumstances.
Jenny Gross, “Theresa May Becomes U.K. Prime Minister,” Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-gets-set-for-u-k-leadership-with-brexit-top-of-agenda-1468390512
- George W. Carey, “The Future of Conservatism,” Modern Age 47, no. 4 (2005): 291-300.↩
- David Sarasohn, “At Guantanamo, no way out for prisoners — or us,” Oregonian, December 7, 2013, http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/david_sarasohn/index.ssf/2013/12/david_sarasohnat_guantanamo_no.html↩
- Alan Nasser, “The Threat of U.S. Fascism: An Historical Precedent,” Common Dreams, August 2, 2007, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2007/08/02/threat-us-fascism-historical-precedent↩