The “Legitimacy” Issue

Duh-byaWith armies of lawyers already girding for battle (and debates about election fairness already in full swing in Ohio), I suppose it’s a fair question as to how “legitimate” the upcoming election will be. (I’m talking strictly about the Presidential election, now — the accompanying Congressional one has its own issues.)

And to be honest, I suppose a lot of that depends on your point of view. The international community may or may not view it as legitimate, but their hands are admittedly tied — for the most part, they’re forced to deal with whatever government the people (or, as was the case in 2000, the Supreme Court) ends up putting into power.

Unreliable voting systems, rampant corruption, and fervent attempts by the G.O.P. hit squad to keep legally registered voters from casting their ballots may all play a part as well. As, to be fair, may overly zealous attempts to register those not eligible to vote (though I do find it curious that the right had absolutely no problem with the Afghan vote being plagued with multiple registrations). At this point, there’s not much we can do there but see how things play out — both on Tuesday and in the perhaps-inevitable court battles to follow.

For me, however, “legitimacy” isn’t really a question at all. I don’t accept the legitimacy of the 2000 election, so as far as I’m concerned, this nation has been without a legitimate President for the past four years.

But — just for the sake of argument — let’s assume that the election is more decisive this time around. I may gripe about the inequities of a President losing the popular vote but gaining the electoral win, but it would still be legitimate.

The thing is, at this point, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would recognize Duh-bya as my President. Electoral win or no; legitimate or not. See, I do not follow war criminals. Period. By explicitly endorsing the illegal, immoral, and downright reprehensible policies of the CIA and War Department (while ludicrously maintaining the now-obvious lie that those actions were the result of a few aberrant individuals), Bush has made it abundantly clear that he wholeheartedly supports the suppression, humiliation, and outright torture of prisoners of war.

And that — pretty much one of the the definiting characteristics of “war criminal” — is absolutely unacceptable, patently inexcusable, and completely unforgivable.

For me, this battle will not end with the removal of Bush and his cronies from office, but solely with their indictment, prosecution and incarceration (though perhaps I’d consider exile as a particularly apt service of justice).

It’s hard to make a comparison argument without resorting to hyperbole, so I won’t make any pretense that I’m doing otherwise. (Though I find Harold Meyerson’s comparison of little George to a past American chief executive — Jefferson Davis — particularly intriguing, not to mention wholly apt.) If you willfully throw your support behind a fascist would-be dictator (as opposed to having your “vote” coerced through threat of force), you must be held accountable for your actions. When history judges this regime’s atrocities — and, whatever the scale, that’s exactly what they are — will you be counted among the oppressors, or among those who stood up for basic human rights and civil liberties?

I, for one, will never offer even tacit support to such a regime.

Now is this a “call to arms”? Only in the strictly metaphorical sense. I’m not naïve enough to believe that a civil war — no matter how determined Bush may be to steer us toward that course — would be a net benefit to the nation. Nor am I stupid enough to believe that “God is on my side,” and regardless of any opposition, those of like mind would emerge triumphant — the view most fervently held among the right-wing extremists Bush so avidly courts. The sole weapons whose use I advocate are those guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States: words. And votes. And, if necessary, the oft-maligned legal process by which we secure those rights against those who would seek to deny them to us.

After next Tuesday (and, most likely, substantially after next Tuesday), we’ll see whether these words have to be put to any sort of test. Should John Kerry prove victorious, then it won’t matter.

If not, then we will once again be utterly without a leader — legitimate or otherwise.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home