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Baucus’ Rebuttal: “This is the Way Democracy Ends”

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"Baucus’ Rebuttal: “This is the Way Democracy Ends”"

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Sen. Max Baucus today offered the rhetorical antithesis to Sen. Santorum’s crass reference to Adolph Hitler. Read it, pass it on to friends. It is a powerful, jarring speech, one that expresses the profound importance of the moment we’re experiencing now.

Mr. President, last week, on Wednesday, we evacuated the Capitol. At the instruction of the Capitol Police, more than a few Senators and staff actually ran from this building and the surrounding offices in the very real fear that a plane was carrying a bomb to attack this building, the center of our democracy.

Sadly, Wednesday was not the first time. And Wednesday will likely not be the last time, that we guard against threats to our democracy by plane and bomb.

But there are other threats to our democracy and our freedoms, just as menacing, equally as dangerous.

Abraham Lincoln said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin said: “It is not slogans or bullets, but only institutions, that can make, and keep, people free.”

And Baron Montesquieu wrote in The Spirit of the Laws: “There is no liberty, if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and the executive.” …

Mr. President, in ancient Rome, when the Senate lost its power, and the emperor became a tyrant, it was not because the emperor abolished the Senate. In ancient Rome, when the Senate lost its power, it continued to exist, at least in name. But in ancient Rome, when the Senate lost its power, in the words of the Senate’s historian, Senator Robert Byrd, the Senate became “little more than a name.”

In ancient Rome, when the Senate lost its power, the Roman Senate was complicit in the transfer. The emperor did not have to seize all the honors and powers. The Roman Senate, one after another, conferred greater powers on Caesar.

It was not the abolition of the Senate that made the emperor powerful. It was the Senate’s complete deference.

Like the Roman Senate before us, we risk bringing our diminution upon ourselves. We risk bringing upon ourselves a hollow Senate, a mere shadow of its past self. And we risk bringing upon ourselves a loss of the checks and balances that ensure our American democracy. …

Mr. President:

This is the way democracy ends;
This is the way democracy ends;
This is the way democracy ends;
Not with a bomb, but a gavel.

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