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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The U.S. was founded in a revolutionary spirit. This American brand of patriotism insists that our citizens constrain the power of our leaders, in spite of impulsive emotions and desires. Throughout their political experience, Americans are encouraged to openly challenge their leaders.

It is safe to say most Americans have not enjoyed their political experience over the past eight years. In retrospect, President George W. Bush was not particularly well suited to lead our nation. About three-fourths of Americans disapprove of the job he has done.

While Bush has always had a sizable opposition, the emotionally charged masses stood by their man through thick and thin, blind to the unfolding reality. Most of his dissenters would say he and his cohorts turned a deaf ear to their deepest reservations.

Patriots stepped forward and responded by engaging in America's oldest tradition. They fought hard. They humbled those who justified the repression of dissent.

In the days and years to come, will they continue to honor their role as patriots or will they simply replace those who persecuted their patriotism?

Hundreds of coordinators across the country masterfully composed an artful and innovative political design for President-elect Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency. They took their marching orders from Chicago, the apex of an unprecedented political network.

A new kind of machine has come into existence. It has the capacity to fuel the ambitions of former campaign bosses across the nation with outrageous sums of money and limitless voter information, in return for unwavering allegiance.

Democrats and Republicans alike with a partial knowledge of Chicago's political history should raise an eyebrow at this. Obama's first decision as president-elect, the appointment of heavy-handed Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel to the position of White House chief of staff, puts up another red flag.

We must not allow our feelings about Obama to stop us from disagreeing with members of the machine, questioning their motives or even standing in the way as their machine rumbles forward.

The interest of these people is not interchangeable with the national interest or even the general interest of the Democratic Party. They are a special interest. As time passes and political decisions are made, the interest they represent will become an increasingly marginal one.

It was Bush's consolidation of power that kept a patriotic opposition from taking part in the practice of democracy. Now, the fear of unbridled authority has extended to the other half of America.

Our first duty as Americans is to deny any faction that seeks to impose hegemony. Chicago must not be allowed to insulate today's change makers from tomorrow's cries for change.

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One major reform that we can push for together is the one abandoned by the Obama campaign as its money began to dominate the process. A complete overhaul of the campaign finance system is still essential to protecting the voice of those who struggle to have a say in the political process.

Regardless of how it takes shape, constraining the powers of the president and his cohorts in Chicago must be the first action taken by a united American people to return our nation to sanity.

Michael Belle is a political science graduate student. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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