I want my country back for Christmas (12/7/2008)

Maybe Santa Claus truly exists. If so, the United States could use some help from St. Nick this Christmas.

Dear Santa:

It’s been awhile. By the way, thanks for that blue sled that I asked for a few years go. Not sure I ever thanked you.

I have a long list this year.

1. Use your influence with President George W. Bush to persuade him to grant a pardon to Sgt. Evan Vela. I understand the philosophical and legal arguments about superior orders, but Vela rightly carried out an order from his immediate superior. He should not be made a scapegoat for an ill-conceived and unnecessary war.

2. Restore our constitutional system. The Bush administration exhibited contempt for the Constitution, which needs servicing. As a nation, we should restore habeas corpus, outlaw torture, end unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens, repeal provisions in the USA Patriot Act and terminate the practice of extraordinary rendition.

3. Give the gift of courage to Congress. For too long, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have acquiesced in the face of presidential usurpation of power. If Congress asserts itself, we can end the reign of the Imperial Presidency and restore the doctrines of separation of powers and checks and balances.

4. The gift of creativity and innovation. The challenges we face require fresh thinking about economics, politics and technology. We must become a green nation, achieve energy independence and focus on innovative means of curbing the effects of this economic crisis. Congress must be willing to spend the hundreds of billions necessary to get our economy moving. The worst mistake we could make, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tells us, is to spend too little. While inflation may be a problem after the economy heats up, that’s an issue for another day. Members must acted boldly; otherwise next year’s Christmas list will be written in the midst of a depression.

5. The gift of tolerance and empathy. In the spirit of the season — goodwill and peace — please deliver to Americans of every stripe and color an understanding of the importance of tolerance, which is the predicate of a free society. Discrimination of every sort tears at the fabric of our system and substitutes ignorance for rationality. Ultimately, it precludes the triumph of merit. Those who have been the victims of discrimination — religious, racial, ethnic and gender — should be the first to confront discrimination against others. Otherwise, those who have been the victims of discrimination send a simple, but dark message: They don’t mind persecution as a matter of principle; they just don’t want to be on the wrong end.

6. Prosperity and protection for those who have been left behind. In this season of goodwill, help us to remember that we are our brother’s keeper.

Merry Christmas,


P.S. About those golf clubs …

Adler is a political science professor at Idaho State University who has written and lectured on the presidency and the Constitution.