Thursday, December 24, 2020

Will there always be democracy in America's future?

A version of this was published in the Winter Park Times, Jan.1, 2021

Hope for Long-Term Continuation of Democracy | Winter Park Times

American democracy was at the crossroads in 2020. Democracy won but it was a close call.  Will it be at the crossroads again in the future? It is likely.  In November,  81 million voters made a choice of Biden's route, but 74 million had hoped for the other one.  With our votes in November, whether we were conscious of it or not, we were choosing between Trump’s autocratic,  tyrannical model of governing by fear of his wrath, use of his presidential powers to take revenge on those who displeased him, and demanding loyalty to him personally instead of to the rule of law.  In late December he rewarded those loyal to himself by issuing pardons to a long list of those pleading guilty or convicted of breaking the law on his behalf. The more democratic traditions we have tried to follow for years have been continued at least for the next four years.  The other road, the losing one, would have given Trump four more years to consolidate dictatorial powers with purges and replacements in the judiciary and military with those loyal to him.  What this portends is that Trumpism will be a force for some years to come because the numbers supporting his approach and Trump -the- person are significant. He is a media master and he will find ways for his voice to be heard.

Democracy will be in jeopardy in the near future from those who do not care if democracy survives because they have other priorities. A September poll conducted by Yale political scientists found that most Americans say they care about democracy, but only 3.5% would change support of a candidate who did not support democracy.  A portion of Trump’s support was motivated by party loyalty and an economy they liked, including those who wanted low taxes and minimum government regulation. They had faith Trump’s prior economy would re-emerge after COVID 19 was beaten. I get that, but Trump's re-election was not the only way to bring back the economy. Polls were taken just before the election that showed Biden and Trump had equal approval in handling the recovery. Trump's earlier advantage had taken a hit as the depth of the pandemic's damage to the economy deepened. Even Trump's defeat did not change Wall Street's trajectory.  In mid-October, both Goldman Sachs and Moody's predicted that the recovery would be stronger under Biden's plan than Trump's. More jobs would be created and Biden's plans for government stimulus would offset higher taxes and more regulation because it would increase sales. 

 However, hovering over all of those more traditional concerns was something sinister.  Trump had exploited  racism as no politician had done since George Wallace and the Dixiecrats, using rally dog whistles and praise of neo white nationalists.  He launched a single-minded pursuit to throw out the African American vote and overturn the election results.  Intimidation, inconveniencing, and a  coup by 40  lawsuits alleging irregularities, failed to keep the African American vote turnout diminished and counted. If there were those in his party who objected to his strategy, their silence was deafening they were so obvious.

 How much of Trump’s most passionate support in 2020 was driven by racism is hard to measure since those polled do not always tell the truth to a stranger when the truth is not noble and motivations are mixed. Estimates by those who tried to attach a figure to it call it a "significant part of his coalition,." and" more influential than just the numbers". What is a fact is those who have ruled for 250 years as a white majority will see black and brown emerging from minority status to the majority of the population by 2040. Those who fear the change see Trump as the strong man to come to their rescue in many issues, not just white nationalism, In any case, he has melded his touted effectiveness of an autocrat’s fist with the dark side of American history in his attempt to fight off the inevitable nature of demography’s march. Cloaking Trumpism in terms of “populism” as some have called it is too kind. Call it what it is.  It is an attempt of one segment of the population to dominate and suppress another in a time of enormous demographic changes.  That is a formula for more social disruption.

The democratic road will also not be free of conflict, dangers, and challenges.  In 2020, over  51% of the voters supported the traditional democratic path of the rule of law instead of the rule of a person, fairness and equality in a diverse society, and self-governance through the ballot box. What about the future?. With such a large body of voters enthralled with Trump’s persona, will he rise again? Will his movement of Trumpism carry on?

  Demography will be the gasoline on the fires of conflict but also it may save democracy.   A new generation is ascending into power as the white nationalists and self-serving interests inspired by Trump’s action and words age out of the scene. The younger generations themselves are more multicultural through intermarriage and social integration and they are steeped in the ethics of diversity   They are already politically awake. Their vote in 2020 impacted results in several states. Millennials and Gen Xers turned out to vote in 2020 for Joe Biden in greater numbers than for  the Democrat candidate in 2016. The youth vote turnout was 53% of those eligible in 2020 compared with 46% in 2016 per a Tuft's University study.  I am placing my hope in them for the long term survival of democracy.

In the meantime, those who care have got to keep fighting for democracy and those who did not care need to begin caring.  Once the evil genie of a dictatorship is out of the bottle, getting it back in is nearly impossible.  Votes in opposition to the Leader are not counted, and the judiciary, media,  and the military are controlled by the dictator. The legislature rolls over and plays yes man to the will of the strong man, much as the Senate has behaved now.  This is how a minority can control and suppress the majority and the majority can dominate the minority.

Update: January 23, 2021
  • The outgoing secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday decried multiculturalism as un-American. 
  • "Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker," he said.
Words from me: an old white woman. So now we learn his true self and what an awful representative to the world he is as a secretary of state. Good riddance. America is for all,, not for old white men...Thank goodness he is a fossil. We are in the midst of a great demographic shift, and white Americans have the choice of accepting it, working with it, or fighting it. Demographics march on and those fighting it will lose to arithmetic and numbers, but those fighting it will only make the transition more difficult for my children and grandchildren. We saw the violent manifestation of that on January 6

Youth vote 2020: 53 percent of young voters cast ballots this year - Vox

Trump’s bigoted base, by the numbers. (

Why the economy would be stronger under Biden than Trump (opinion) - CNN

2020 Popular Vote Tracker | The Cook Political Report

Trump campaign, Republican lawsuits challenging 2020 election: list - Business Insider   Tape of Trump trying to get Georgia's Secretary of State to fix the vote

"Nearly all Americans say democracy matters. But how many will actually punish their preferred candidate and withhold a vote when that candidate does something undemocratic?

Graham and Svolik’s answer: About 3.5 percent of voters will defect from a candidate whom they otherwise support, but who does something destructive of democratic norms. Those 3.5 percent come from the right and the left in equal proportions, but they tend to be moderates. (Self-described “independents”—those mysterious, yeti-like creatures who profess to have no political preference at all—vote slightly more like extremists.) If you value democracy, hug a moderate."

Mark the names of these 140 House members well. After 40 suits to find fraud in the electoral count and vote, and 80 judges of all political affiliation and ideology found no evidence, these House members are planning to vote against the electoral College certification anyway.. With this act they willl have just identified themselves as those opposing democracy. For whatever reason they do it, never forget their names if they follow through. This would be about 30 percent of the House.

An argument advanced in support of the 140 is that in 2005 31 Democrats also voted against certification.. ...Therefore, it is OK to do it in 2020 ..None of the challenges went through the court process in 2005 to decide if the vote was stacked or not because the issue was voter suppression of African Americans in Ohio...not fraud. ..and most of the Democrats did not support it, either. The issue in 2005 was about one state and voter suppression.
It was not on the basis of fraud, unlike 2020 ....for which there has been found no evidence...40 suits, 80 judges. Two wrongs, however, do not make a right.

. But the situation is different. ..In this vote Jan 6, the purpose is to reverse the entire election result and conveniently target four states that voted for Biden ,.to reach the talley needed for Trump to win.. .unlike just one state, Ohio, that would have not changed the election result in 2005. The premise of these 140 is some phantom fraud that 40 courts dismissed or ruled against their party's case with prejudice. They know it and prefer to perpetuate a lie. These 140 are sticking their middle digits at the cornerstone of democracy... the rule of law and an election that expresses the will of the people by 8 million more votes.
Congress Ratifies Bush Victory After Challenge (Published 2005)

From an earlier posting: January  15, 2018 "If Donald Trump is not a racist, what is he? A demagogue?"

The most plausible view of Donald Trump is not the nonracist one he portrays himself,. then is he purely using racism as a conscious strategy.  It is a natural, instinctive melding of the two, his own deep long-held feelings that joined with his mouth that happened to give him the political wings to succeed.  The conclusions by Slate after  reviewing  all of the polls of 2016 Trump voters on the subject was: “Overt racists aren’t a decisive share of the electorate, but they’re a substantial part of the president’s coalition.”  His approval ratings hover around 39% so there are those who are willing to ignore or deny the charges of racism or who are offended but not enough to put bigotry at the top of the list of their concerns.  They will support him for other issues, taxation. entitlements and cultural issues and reforms. The question is: how many of those who make up his base will stick with him in the future in spite of his racist remarks and policy positions. The 2018  November Congressional elections will reveal the answer.

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