Anybody watching the news the past few years has to be wondering about the future of democracy in the United States. In a relatively short historical span, our great nation has literally gone from being a relatively stable republic that regularly wanders from center-right to center-left governments to one that could literally veer completely off course into a far-right dominated dictatorship.
Am I being overly alarmist? Recent developments say I’m not.
Never before in U.S. history has a president like Donald Trump been able to bamboozle so many people into believing nonsense that borders on complete stupidity. I’m worried — like a lot of people — and COVID has only made the situation worse. General Colin Powell — an American patriot and hero — recently died from complications associated with COVID.
In addition to Powell, other famous Americans to die from the disease include Herman Cain, Tom Seaver, John Prine, Charley Pride and Phil Valentine (ironically, one of several rightwing nutjob radio personalities to die of the disease after either deeming it a hoax or promoting vaccine skepticism). In total, more than 730,000 other Americans have also perished from the disease. And yet, the anti-vaxxers persist in pushing fake science and conspiracy theories on social media and Fox News to millions of dimwits who continue to endanger the rest of us, while simultaneously holding back the U.S. economy.
Complicating the COVID nonsense is a compliant, squishy-spined Republican party that, with only a few exceptions like Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, won’t even stand up to a dangerous, narcissistic crook with a long history of lying and swindling. And where’s the outrage when fellow crooks, liars and swindlers like Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Joe Arapio, Rod Blagojevich, Scooter Libby and a long list of others are pardoned for crimes ranging from tax fraud to corruption and criminal contempt?
The truth is simple: Trump and numerous Republican politicians discovered that a sizable, undereducated portion of the United States can be manipulated and lied to with complete disregard for the wellbeing of our democracy. They also learned that those same undereducated people can create mayhem if social media and Fox News keep up with the “stop the steal” charade. And finally, if all the above isn’t bad enough, spineless politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham (who famously called Trump dangerous and a fraud prior to his election) quickly turned into brown-nosing sycophants more concerned with being reelected than with promoting democracy, voting rights, tax fairness or medical advice from experts.
Yeah, I’m worried. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. And yet, with the advantage given rural, often conservative states by the electoral system, dirty tactics and their desire for power over everything else, we have a conservative Supreme Court, a January coup attempt that’s being ignored by half the population and a loudmouth ex-president who continues to impress the easily impressed.
I didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan or either of the Bush presidents, but all three now come across as eminently qualified and reasonable politicians who oozed grace, character and class compared to Trump and his band of sleazy enablers.