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Lessons from Mexico on the Nuclear Option and the One-Party State

By Jules Siegel

The nuclear option is obviously a key factor in the Republican plan to impose a one party dictatorship. That's the reason people like Cheney are ignoring the argument raised by some Republicans that they shouldn't mess with the fillibuster because they won't always be the majority power. They plan to be the only power. The Democrats will be reduced to a Quisling-like pseudo-opposition.

The judiciary is the only real obstacle to this Republican goal, because independent judges would still retain the power to nullify fraudulent elections. The Republicans leadership therefore has to be able to emasculate the judiciary by appointing only totally compliant judges, first in key positions such as the Supreme Court and the Appellate courts, then throughout the court system. A clue to why this is absolutely necessary was revealed in the confrontation between Jeb Bush's forces and local police in the Schiavo case. The local police demanded that a judge appear personally and authorize Terri Schiavo's removal from the hospice, and the state forces backed down.

If the theocrats plan to return to Biblical times when judges ruled the Hebrews, the judges better be absolute loyalists because there will come a time when local security forces, remembering France under the Nazi occupation, and Nuremberg, and well aware of the temporary nature of absolute power, will choose to obey only their own jurisdiction's judges when receiving what they believe are illegal orders from outside forces.

Although it's been jokingly (I hope) suggested that the theocrats would annoint Bush king, I think it's more likely that the Republican leadership has in mind a system like the Mexican Partido Revolucionario Institucional, in which the president changed every six years, but the power remained with the ruling party.

Congress (and representative government in general) would be reduced to the status of a market research system. A high PRI official once told me that the PRI always counted the votes as accurately as possibly, even when they didn't announce the true results. It was their method of detecting who was actually functioning at the local levels. They needed to know how many votes were cast to see if the party functionaries were actually doing their work at the grassroots level.

They used the information to weed out poor performers behind closed doors, not in messy public fights that would have damaged the party image. Although the PRI has been much maligned, they stayed in power for 71 years not by force of arms (although that did enter, especially in the years after the Revolution) but by a combination of very skilled sociological manipulation combined with well-planned moderately populist policies that actually did deliver results for the country as a whole and key population segments in particular.

Mexico under the PRI was Stalinism without Stalin and without insane abuses such as the Gulag. The role Stalin played in Russia was institutionalized in Mexico. The power remained in the position of the presidency, but the face of the president changed to reflect inner currents in the party, and changing trends in the country as their social action programs such as education succeeded.

They ceded power because it became the only way to purge totally corrupt (and also intellectually intransigent) party elements who were standing in the way of what people like Zedillo perceived to be the modernization of the Mexican economy and political control systems. Here in Cancun and the state of Quintana Roo, the new wave of PRI leadership -- young, healthy, intelligent -- just won the governorship and the mayoralty races, but lost control of the legislature, but this is not yet a predictor for national politics.

Unless they can keep Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador from running for president in 2006, it will take another six years before the story is fully played out. López Obrador is by far the most popular candidate, but he's been charged with a ridiculous trivial offense (supposedly defying a court order in a very dubious land dispute case) and stripped of his immunity from prosecution by a congressional coalition of the right wing Partido Acción Nacional and the PRI. López-Obrador is a very appealing candidate, but the performance of his party, Partido Revolucionario Democratico, here has been just awful. He might be a great candidate and win the election, but it will remain to be seen whether or not he can manage the country well enough to stop the PRI in 2012.

The PRD began when "leftist" followers of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas were expelled from the party in 1987 by the "centrist" technocrats. The PRI lost its impregnable majority and some of its most important intellectual leadership, the conscience of the party. Over the years, dissident PRI elements have joined the PRD and some other smaller parties. If López-Obrador does win, it's possible that what will then be left of the PRI will be merged into the PRD. So the country will once again be governed by the same people who ran it before Fox was allowed to be elected in 2000.

The PRI was a progressive force in Mexican history. The Republicans are a regressive force. If they prevail, the United States will become more and more like Italy under Mussolini (state capitalism) rather than Russia under Stalin (communist industrialism). They will continue in power until the leadership becomes so physically and intellectually corrupt that they are unable to control the military and the police when the system collapses because of widespread unemployment, bank failures, famine, plagues, power failures and the like.

What happens then in the United States? Don't ask me. I won't be alive to see it. At least I don't think so. I don't want to say I hope not, but it does remind of what Jim Brewster, founder of the Chinese House, a social action mission without portfolio in Lagunitas, Calif., told me in 1969: "I am arranging for my own survival when it gets into the heavy scenes." Jim and his family are now living near the Canadian border in what could easily be converted into a mountain redoubt, with their own food and survival supplies assured. I'm living in Cancun, utterly dependent on society at large.


Censored!
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