EDITORIAL: The supremacy of the law

The most important aspect of any democracy, even more than the vote, is the notion of the rule of law – that all citizens, even the president, must bow to the laws of the land without exception.If we abandon respect for this principle, then we grant that our president may do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases without regard to the Constitution, federal law or the desires of the people.If we abandon respect for this principle, we abandon a history of courts as a separate and equal check on the presidency.They will become but a tool to be used however our leader sees fit.If we abandon respect for this principle, every four years we would cease to elect a new president and instead elect a new king.And it is exactly this principle that has been most brutally, mercilessly and systematically assaulted by the Bush administration.They have ignored subpoenas, redefined clear laws, deceived Congress and the American people to engage in war, permitted the use of torture, spied on American citizens, lied about the spying, unjustly fired federal prosecutors, ignored the Geneva Conventions and covered up their tracks by conveniently losing evidence and suffering from sudden and acute amnesia.And every one of these actions has sent the same message: president = king.Are we, as a people, not sickened by this?Are we not ashamed to have let all these things happen under our watch? Are we not furious at our leader for having been so blatantly patronizing, so blatantly arrogant and so blatantly criminal?Do we not feel disservice to our forefathers for jeopardizing the American promise that they fought, struggled and died for? If we do, we must show these feelings.But there are many who would have the defeat of Nov. 4 ring into the future as the closing arguments on this doctrine of the rule of law and democracy in America.”Now is the time to move forward,” they will say. “The president’s abuses are the abuses of the past, and we should look to the future, rather than trying to punish yesterday’s evils.” But if history has taught us anything, it is that a lesson cannot be beaten in with anything short of blunt, traumatic force. Those feelings will be forgotten, and soon we will find ourselves facing this dark period again.We must call on this new president to prosecute and pursue these crimes not because we seek revenge, but because we must restore that most precious element of democracy that has been so horribly neglected – the rule of law.