Bringing Oligarchs Under the Rule of Law

By Charlotte Dennett

If there is one sentence in David Swanson’s remarkable book that bears repeating, it is this: “The first step in closing down an empire is bringing its emperors and oligarchs under the rule of law.”

I say this with the confidence that there are millions of Americans who are alarmed by Washington’s unconstitutional support for endless wars abroad and the accompanying erosion of democracy at home. David Swanson’s book (“Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidenct and Forming a More Perfect Union”) provides an insight-packed roadmap on how to “undo the imperial presidency.” I’m going to use his book in my classroom and encourage others to do the same as we try to awaken a younger generation to the need to save our country from its seemingly inexorable slide toward fascism.

Daybreak is an unflinching expose of the corruption infecting all three branches of our government. I’m particularly impressed with Swanson’s honesty and fearlessness in critiquing our “invertebrate Congress” and its penchant for holding inconsequential hearings rather than holding war criminals and murders in the Bush administration accountable for their acts. “While it may not be pleasant to stare recent crimes in the face and punish powerful people,” he writes, “failing to do so is very likely to lead to the repetition and expansion of the crimes and abuses that are thereby established as acceptable . . . Our purpose [in prosecuting high officials for their crimes] should be deterrence. As citizens, we must be clear about what is and is not acceptable from our leaders.”

If citizens set their minds to carrying out only one of his many suggested reforms on his urgent “To Do List” at the end of the book, we will have succeeded in rescuing our country from the precipice and restore America’s reputation as a beacon of freedom, justice, and yes – hope — in the world.

Charlotte Dennett is a lawyer, professor, and author of the forthcoming book: The People v Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She’s Encountered Along the Way. (Chelsea Green, January 2009)

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