Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dirty deeds done in backrooms

Those drafting the proposed national spending plan in Congress are doing so with the utmost of secrecy. 

Whatever happened to our representative democracy where issues and priorities were publicly debated, where the people were supposed to have a role in governing decisions, where transparency was a highly prizes attribute of good governance? 

Secrecy and governing in "crisis" - be it a real crisis, or one ginned up for the occasion - appear to be the new American order. 

Your Congressional leaders, of course, defend the opaqueness. 

But it's a model that's been used in the past to lead others down a dark and dangerous path. 

I've quoted a Milton Mayer before. And I'll quote him again.

Mayer, a historian, wrote of Germany's transition to Nazism:
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
It's been said history may not repeat, but it often rhymes. 

Not all rhymes are good rhymes. 

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