Hail to the thief! Taking what belongs to someone else doesn’t make it yours; it just makes it stolen. This is true whether we’re talking about a neighbor’s vehicle, a people’s culture or the office of the President of the United States.

The term coup is often defined as, “an overthrow of governmental function by a group of persons in or previously in political authority, in deliberate violation of constitutional forms”. Through the suppression of significant portions of the African American vote, in Florida, primarily through willful and systematic violations of the Voting Rights Act, forces backing George W. Bush, with the support of corporate media, have managed to deliver the white house into the hands of an unelected junta.

If the electoral coup, which has occurred in this country, were to take place in, let’s say, India, Nigeria, Serbia, or Haiti, America’s ruling class would be inclined to consider imposing economic and military sanctions or more. As when, prior to 1965, the United States paraded around the planet claiming it was making the world safer for democracy, while not allowing all of its own people to vote, the degree of hypocrisy is breathtaking.

As Florida’s Secretary of State was standing in the polling place door, I was reminded of the fact that in so-called democracies there’s something referred to as, “the consent of the governed”. This consent cannot be mandated. It can’t be stolen. Yes, you can seize power, but you cannot seize legitimacy, or authority. According to the Declaration of Independence, citizens, in a democracy, have an inalienable right, in fact, a duty to resist undemocratic and illegal regimes.

Something like this could never happen in America. “America” is a mythological place where justice and the will of the people rule. But of course, we don’t live in “America”; we live in the United States, where at the highest levels, anything that can be gotten away with goes.

The essence of representative, electoral democracy is the free, fair and impartial counting of everyone’s vote. This is good, for it can provide an important opportunity for the expression of the will of the taxpayers. It helps avoid, “taxation without representation”. But what has happened, to the United States, is beyond wrong, beyond criminal and constitutes a fundamental blow to the illusion of democratic government.

It’s not okay. We won’t forget it. As we step into the new millennium, recognizing even more clearly the true nature of the system, we must be prepared to speak out, do more for ourselves, and in our own ways choose, as did Dr. King, Gandhi and many others, non-cooperation with and resistance to political injustice.

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