Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Democracy? Why worry. What's the big deal?

Updated: 12/26/20

 After  November 3  we came very close to the beginning of the end of democracy. Oh, that would never happen in the US. . Stop hyperventilating you say? Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College vote on December 14 signaled democracy survived a critical challenge. 126  House members and 17 state GOP attorneys general signed onto the hail Mary attempt by Trump's sycophant Texas Attorney General to overturn the certified November 3  vote of the people in four key states. His goal: throw out 20 million votes so loser Trump could become the winner.

 Fortunately for democracy, Biden's victory was too widespread across many states for there to be a repeat of the 2000 Florida experience where one state's hanging chads punch-card ballots were evidence enough for the Supreme Court to decide against Al Gore. Trump lost the popular vote by 7  million and lost the electoral college by the same number he had won four years earlier. No losing candidate in our history attempted to overturn such a decisive vote.  In the period between election day and electoral vote, Joe Biden stood by with muted objection and let Trump's attempted coup by court run its course. Most recently, there have been reports that a deranged and angry Trump is talking with close cohorts calling in the military in swing states to seize ballot boxes. So far it is talk. Numerous times the Joint Chiefs have made it clear the federal military would not get involved in domestic politics or act against their oath to protect the Consitution to which they swore allegiance. In an immediate response the US Army issued a statement reaffirming prior statements they will not get involved in domestic politics.\

 From the onset, Trump's attorneys publicly stated that the goal of their lawsuits was to overturn the vote.  It was no secret nor was it couched in ambiguous terms. It was to be a coup by court action. The goal failed because it was based on false hopes in advance of the election that there was indeed going to be widespread fraud. Trump and his followers drank their own cool-aid, but the evidence and proof did not emerge, more than a few states swung to Biden, the popular vote was too large for Biden,  and judges demanded evidence. There were hopes, too, that all of the judges appointed in the Trump presidency from lower federal courts to the Supreme Court would put loyalty and gratitude to Trump over judicial judgment. They were wrong on all assumptions. No evidence emerged that the count was fraudulent. Judges and justices of any party affiliation and many appointed by Trump honored the rule of law and the Constitution. Legions of local vote counters and officials likewise performed their sworn duty faithfully They knew in advance their actions would be scrutinized.

Public opinion has not caught up with reality. Polls taken near December 14 after nearly every one of the 50 lawsuits were thrown out of courts attests to how effective Trump's lies and demagoguery were when 70% of Trump voters still believed Biden was not the legitimate winner. It is difficult to say who is more at fault...his willfully gullible core supporters or Trump's tweets and oratory. A lawsuit against FOX by a voting machine vendor has forced the station to rectify statements made by FOX personalities and debunk them.(  After legal threat, Fox airs news package debunking election fraud claims made by its own hosts (msn.com)  Irresponsibility has a price but no amount of money could compensate for the damage some of these opinion hosts have done to the faith in our democracy. For the majority of voters who suspected Trump was a not-so-secret autocrat, his attempted coup confirmed Trump's desire to become a dictator who ruled by his persona and not by the rule of law or the intent of the Constitution for government to be of, by and for the people expressed in the ballot box. Special hats off to those who refused to be intimidated by threats of murder and violence by white nationalist terrorists and their supporters who tweeted threats, torched signs on Black churches, demonstrated violently,  and parked themselves in front of the houses of public officials while wielding guns, chants, and racist rants. If the true guardians of democracy in 2020,  judges, justices, and public election officials, are replaced in the future with political subterfuge by those who do not respect or honor these pillars of democracy, the end of democracy has arrived.  The second term of Trump would have moved us in that direction. The new litmus tests for any future candidates, regardless of the political party, ideology, or public policy issue, should be their record and support of democratic institutions and traditions.  No pious lip service allowed, please. Ask them where they were and where they stood in  December 2020.

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Trump is leaving his presidency with nearly half of the country giving him a good or ok approval rating.  Trumpism will continue as a force even without an official bully voice in the White House. His loyal supporters are facing a choice. Keep up their goal of attempting to hold on.to. the governance by their racial cohorts even when they cease to be the majority as long as they can. Or they can learn to tolerate and live with a diverse society.  The temptation will be to embrace dictatorship and to hold on by force and oppression of "others.", History has shown us, that eventually, dictatorships end in blood and death when the majority uprises against them.

Why worry about the rule of an autocrat, a tyrant,  or a dictator anyway? Here is the way dictators govern. as I have seen them as a foreign student and married to a refugee, in post-war, pre-wall Berlin to Yugoslavia under Tito. Dictators, Communist, fascists, or the just plain power-hungry say what the law is and how it's interpreted, who gets prosecuted, and why, including using it to discipline disloyalty to the dictator himself and suppression of the opposition press.  Dictators can be as corrupt as they want, including committing bribery and extortion and padding an extravagant, privileged lifestyle. Their tools to maintain power are the use of fear, revenge, punishment, murder, and imprisonment as well as rewarding loyalty with position and privilege.   No one is reporting about corruption in the press or is the legislature looking over their shoulders. Legislators would have passed the great Leader's test of loyalty to get their position in the first place.  Only approved media outlets are allowed and permitted so long as they report the Leaders' version of the truth.  Those who would like regime change can count on elections being rigged, really rigged. Forget free and fair elections. The judges and justices they appoint are in the great Leader's' pocket who expect favors returned. In extreme cases, your citizen's words of criticism of the great Leader uttered in private or in public are considered treason and will make you unemployable and feel lucky if you do not end up in jail. You live in constant fear of an informant outing you and a knock at the door in the middle of the night. The only recourse is to take to the streets at best or a bloody civil war at worse. Goodbye, peaceful transitions.  Expect the military to intervene to suppress demonstrators because their generals have already sworn their loyalty to the great Leader and their ranks have been purged. In short, individuals are not free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. 


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  Why so many House Republicans co-signed Texas’s lawsuit to overturn the election - The Washington Post


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