Republicans are pushing American democracy to the brink of collapse

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A specter haunts America, the specter of fascism. Conservative financial, political, and religious powers are now intertwined in an unholy alliance to evade, eliminate, or eviscerate the longstanding rights and protections of democracy.

These words paraphrase Marx, but they apply to MAGA. Democracy is under attack around the world and here in a nation that calls itself the land of the free. After the recent FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s sprawling Mar-a-Lago mansion, added to Trump’s legal troubles, right-wing threats against judges and law enforcement have proliferated online, and a man who had been present at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 Hill Riot was killed by police in Cincinnati after attacking an FBI office while armed with a nail gun and rifle.

On August 4, a distinguished group of American historians told President Biden that democracy was “shaky”. One of the historians, Sean Wilentz of Princeton, later said that “it will be up to the voters to vote for the people” who resist authoritarianism in America. On August 22, Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School called Trump’s most rabid supporters “armed and dangerous”, and said the United States could not give in to them and remain a nation where no one is supposed to be above the law. Meanwhile, it was telling that the crowds at the Conservatives’ recent CPAC convention in Dallas adored both Trump and autocratic political strongman Victor Orban of Hungary. In his CPAC kickoff speech, Orban threw rhetorical red meat at the cheering crowd, saying, “Politics is not enough. It’s a culture war.

There was a time when Republicans claimed to be a party of personal responsibility, respect for the rule of law, and loyalty to American institutions like the peaceful transition of power. There was a time when GOP conservatives like Senator Barry Goldwater told Richard Nixon he was at risk of impeachment for the Watergate crimes. There was a time when Republican politicians like Jacob Javits opposed the war in Vietnam while supporting civil rights and the labor movement at home. There was a time when Republican Senator Everett Dirksen worked with Democrats to pass the landmark civil rights bill. Those times are no more. Today’s GOP is a Trumppublican party in the grip of a foaming MAGA base that writer Peter Wehner called “unbalanced and disturbing” in his August 11 article in Atlantic“Now they are calling for violence.”

Even before the recent FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago and before the MAGA mob stormed Capitol Hill last year, historians were sounding the alarm about threats to democracy. Just days before the 2020 election, “How to Keep the Lights On in Democracies: An Open Letter of Concern by Authoritarian Scholars” warned of the dangers for an America that has long prided itself on to be a democratic republic. In a prescient foreshadowing of January 6, the 2020 open letter denounced “the links between those in power and self-defense and militia forces using political violence to destabilize our democracies.” The letter also reminded readers that “the temptation to take refuge in a figure of arrogant strength is now greater than ever.” The letter ended on a hopeful note, saying that although democracy is under threat at home and abroad, “it is not too late to turn the tide.”

The tide of authoritarianism is loose, but there are signs of hope. A recent NBC News poll that asked respondents what they considered to be the most important issue facing this country said concern over threats to democracy was higher today than concern over current american issues such as cost of living, jobs and economy, immigration, climate change. , guns, abortion, crime or COVID. Over 60% of respondents said they would be willing to spend a day carrying a sign with a political slogan of their choice.

You don’t have to look very far to see that democracy is under siege, but not for the count. Whether our future is one of freedom or fascism may well depend on those mentioned in the opening lines of our perilous Constitution: “We the people.”

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