The End of Democracy in America

I know it seems like a ridiculous idea. The world’s greatest democracy founded on July 4, 1776 coming to an end. Every nation in the world striving to have a democracy tries to emulate the United States of America.  It is happening before our eyes.  Millions of our own citizens no longer believe fair and honest elections are possible.

The US Constitution

To ensure that there are unfair elections the GOP, the Republican Party, are passing laws to deny citizens the right to vote.  But of course many Republicans believe they are doing the right thing to protect the democracy.  

States with Republican legislatures have passed waves of new laws making it harder for constituents to vote in response to the 2020 election, experts say.

Republican lawmakers in state legislatures across the country are capitalizing on Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud to pass these measures. Nineteen states have passed 33 news laws this year that make it harder to vote, according to an updated analysis released Monday by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice.

The report, which covers legislative activity through September 27, finds that:

  • Four states bundled together an array of new voting restrictions into single omnibus bills: Texas, Florida, Georgia and Iowa.
  • Four states — Arkansas, Montana, Texas and Arizona — passed multiple laws to restrict voting.
  • Many state laws hit on common themes. Seven, for instance, imposed tougher identification requirements to cast ballots. Seven states also shortened the window to apply for a mail-in ballots.

Some states are discouraging voter participation by imposing arbitrary requirements and harsh penalties on voters and poll workers who violate these rules. In Georgia, lawmakers have made it a crime to provide food and water to voters standing in line at the polls — lines that are notoriously long in Georgia, especially for communities of color. In Texas, people have been arrested and given outrageous sentences for what amount at most to innocent mistakes made during the voting process.

 Large majorities of Republicans continue to believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and elected Republicans around the country are acting on this conspiracy theory — attempting to lock Democrats out of power by seizing partisan control of America’s electoral systems. Democrats observe all this and gird for battle, with many wondering if the 2024 elections will be held on the level.

I can see only two possibilities. 1) A military civil war that will result in the loss of lives.  Those with the guns winning and resulting into a police state. 2) The splitting of the nation into multiple countries.  The liberal west coast as one nation.  The Midwest and the South another country and the Northeast a third country.

Historians will note that no government lasts forever.

What the average citizen can do about the demise of US democracy

This is a compilation of words written in The Atlantic by George Packer and Zachary B. Wolf on CNN.

Most Republican voters believe that the last election was stolen and that the next one likely will be too. Some have come to embrace the insurrection as a sacred cause.

There is no easy way to stop a major party that’s intent on destroying democracy. The demonic energy with which Trump repeats his lies, and Steve Bannon harangues his audience, and Republican politicians around the country try to seize every lever of election machinery—this relentless drive for power by American authoritarians is the major threat that America confronts. The Constitution doesn’t have an answer. No help will come from Republican leaders; if Mitt Romney and Susan Collins are all that stand between the republic and its foes, we’re doomed.

Barbara Walter is a professor at the University of California San Diego and has a new book out, “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them.”

She’s among those who have warned the country’s democracy is in a dangerous place.

When asked what everyday Americans could do to protect democracy, she replied with a thoughtful and lengthy email, which boils down to a few key points.

Vote. Even in presidential elections, there are millions of Americans not taking part in the democratic process. The share of nonvoters is even larger in midterm elections, and larger still at the local level.

“If they voted it would perhaps change the makeup of Congress and break the minority’s hold on power in many places,” Walter said.

Protest. Walter pointed to research from Harvard University and argued that nonviolent protest is an effective tool for change.

“It would be very, very hard for politicians to refuse to reform our democracy if even 3 percent of Americans continued to protest in the street until changes were made,” Walter said. “Americans did that during the civil rights era, when citizens demanded equal rights and freedoms for African Americans, and the government responded, satisfying a desire for equity and justice.”

Connect. It’s this last thought that caught my attention. Walter shared an excerpt from her book in which she argues Americans need to reclaim and mediate public discourse so we can “get off the path of self-segregating, predatory factionalism and restore hope in the long-term health of our country.” She offered examples of local groups across the country trying to get people talking to each other.

“Americans have begun to realize how fragile our democracy is and take action to preserve it,” Walter said. “It is at the local level—in churches, voluntary associations, and grassroots groups—that we can once again come together and relearn the power of citizenship and community.”

Get engaged

There are plenty of activist groups looking to bring more Americans into the political process. RepresentUs is a group that vows to fight corruption at the federal level and enact laws at the local level.

It is pushing for the national voting standard that Democrats are trying to figure out how to pass through the Senate.

“Keep informed with multiple credible news sources, and participate in the conversations happening in your community,” RepresentUS CEO Joshua Graham Lynn told me in an email.

There are plenty of reports on the kinds of civil servants, poll workers and volunteers who make democracy run being targeted and quitting.

“If you see your local election officials, school boards, poll workers and other guardians of democracy under attack, show up to support them. That can be anything from sending a quick email of support to going to community meetings,” Lynn said.

I’ll add here that you can call your local election office and see if there are positions that need filling. We know from Steve Bannon that Trump supporters are looking to get into as many election-related positions as possible.

“In this period of heightened anxiety, it can be tempting to tune out the world. But we truly need all hands on deck to make sure our democracy doesn’t crumble,” said Lynn.

Don’t generalize. Accept facts.

Being respectful and honest is not, and should not be, partisan.

One of the more interesting developments this week was former Vice President Dick Cheney — once vilified by Democrats as Darth Vader — appearing on Capitol Hill to show support for the January 6 investigation, which his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney is helping to conduct.

In the Wall Street Journal, the Republican spinmeister Karl Rove wrote that Democrats and Republicans have responsibilities to truth and civility.

Stop generalizing about Republicans. Democrats, he said, need to resist the “petty habit of aggravating partisan fault lines by indiscriminately condemning all who came to Washington that day.”

Accept facts. Proving the point that Democrats need to separate Republicans of goodwill from those who stormed the Capitol, he admitted his own party has more work to do.

I was shocked to see these words come from Rove:

“I’ve been a Republican my entire life, and believe in what the Republican Party, at its best, has represented for decades. There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.”

The alternatives are a civil war or dissolution of the republic.  Those are not choices no American of conscience wants.

The United States came close to seeing the end of Its World Renowned Democracy

What we had here was an attempted coup to take control of the United States government and end democracy.  Just don’t count the ballots and say they are not legitimate. It was Vice President Mike Pence who refused to take part in that effort and resulted in the swearing in of Joe Biden as the 46th president.

Fox News program hosts were among those who implored former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to help stop the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to the committee investigating the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In public, those same hosts deflected blame from Trump.

Even Donald Trump Jr. tried to reach his father but was blocked by Meadows.

The fight for the presidency is not over.  It has been reported that 60% of registered Republicans do not recognize Joe Biden as the legitimate president.

If Republicans will not accept a loss then there is no democracy.  As it stands now the United States is on the path to becoming a democracy in name only.  That is the system in Russia, Turkey, and other autocracies. Is that what Americans want?

And Society Said “Who Cares?”

It is impossible to fathom what is in the minds of members of the Senate and House that continue to block legislation that would decrease the use of firearms that kill innocent people. The Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, the leading Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, blocked a request on Thursday to proceed on gun control legislation in the Senate after the Michigan school shooting this week.

Grassley blocked expanding background checks condemning it as “hostile towards lawful gun owners and lawful firearm transactions”. He argued that “so-called universal background checks will not prevent crime and will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.”

Think about that.  Universal background checks would “turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.”  How about background checks to prevent criminals and mentally challenged people from obtaining firearms?

Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old accused of killing four fellow students at a Michigan high school was identified by teachers as a troubled teenager.  His father bought the gun he used just a few days before the killing.  Would James Crumbley pass a background check?  Perhaps, but every effort to keep weapons out of the hands of would be killers is worth the price of investigating someone’s background.

This shooting is reminiscent of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children

And society said “Who cares?”

People like Chuck Grassley are a danger to American society.  

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Have you ever served on a jury in a criminal case? I have been selected in two cases to serve. The person is presumed innocent unless the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

From Cornell University Law School: “Beyond a reasonable doubt is the legal burden of proof required to affirm a conviction in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial. In other words, the jury must be virtually certain of the defendant’s guilt in order to render a guilty verdict. This standard of proof is much higher than the civil standard, called “preponderance of the evidence,” which only requires a certainty greater than 50 percent.”

And that is the reason Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty by a jury of 12. The decision was unanimous.

Restoring Confidence In Our Democracy

Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election have become a driving force inside the GOP, and a deep distrust in the voting process has spread across the country.

If most people do not trust the electoral system to select our leaders what are the alternatives?  The United States really does not have a direct election voting system.  We select “electors” who actually do the voting.  The country has abandoned the original selection process as established but not required in the constitution.  The states now require the “electors” to select the presidential candidate who received the most votes in each state.  That could be changed by the legislatures of each state.  It would be a choice that would most likely have selected Donald Trump for a second term.

Trump’s complaint is that there was fraud in the election.  Miscounts, dead people voting, voting machine tampering, destroyed ballots, etc. None of those claims were proven and that is why Joe Biden was certified the winner.

Where does this leave us?  We need a new leader for this nation who will retore our confidence in our government and the electoral system.  Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump is that person.  If no one steps forward we could be seeing the disintegration of the great experiment.

That would be a sad ending.

It’s all about Leadership

Thanks to a divided Democratic Party the original $3.5 trillion social safety net and combat climate change bill has been whittled down to $1.75 trillion over a decade.

The 1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure bill contains basic needs of the country such as roads, lead-free pipes, bridges, and funds for public transportation. These are clear necessities of the nation that fit the very definition of infrastructure.

So what’s the problem?

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party insists that both of these laws be passed together or they will vote for no bills.  Essentially they are saying if we can’t get what we want we would rather have nothing.  On the moderate side of the Party two senators want the $3.5 trillion bill cut to $1.5 trillion.

President Biden says it’s all about compromise.  The GOP is thrilled.  The Democratic Party is giving the Republicans a campaign gift in 2022. 

The Republicans will be telling everyone that the Democratic Party cannot govern.

The dictatorships of the world are clapping their hands with joy.  They are saying to their people “see, democracy doesn’t work.”

My question is not just why should these two bills be linked but instead why not introduce a series of laws to address different issues?  For example, why not create legislation to make Medicaid more accessible? Why not pass legislation that will enable Medicare to negotiate lower prices?  Why should these things be linked to anything else?

Public perception is everything.  As it stands today the Democratic Party is likely to lose both houses of Congress next November.  That will put President Joe Biden in the same category as other one term presidents.  Those who were unable to unify the nation and successfully address real issues.

It appears likely Americans will be voting for a Republican president in November 2024.  

What Was The Wall Street Journal Thinking?

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal opinion’s section posted a lengthy letter from Donald Trump in which the former president repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

“Well actually, the election was rigged, which you, unfortunately, still haven’t figured out,” Trump wrote at the top of his op-ed, insisting — contra facts — that he actually won the state of Pennsylvania.

Before we go any further, let’s revisit what happened in Pennsylvania in 2020.

Joe Biden won 3,461,221 to Trump’s 3,379,055, according to the Almanac of American Politics. That’s a margin of 82,166 votes.

Which is close!

And the closeness of that result led Trump to make several attempts in the wake of the election to have courts step in. A federal judge dismissed Trump’s lawsuit in November 2020, writing: “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption. That has not happened.” Around that same time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Trump’s campaign to stop the counting of some absentee ballots in certain areas that included Philadelphia.

On November 24, Pennsylvania certified the results in the state after all 67 counties had certified their results individually.

There is simply no there there. None. Zero. Zilch.

Which, of course, the Wall Street Journal and its editors know. (Sidebar: Trump’s letter was published in the “Opinions” section, which is separate from the news and reporting end of the publication.) And that knowledge makes what they did all the worse.

The op-ed section at the Journal will likely hide behind 1st Amendment free speech arguments to defend themselves. But that misses the mark, since our speech is bound in all sorts of ways already. You can’t yell “bomb” on a plane without repercussions. Or “fire” in a movie theater. (Remember when we used to go to the movies? Yeah, that was fun.)

Under that same logic, you can’t simply allow lies about the 2020 election to be printed in a major national newspaper under the guise of free speech. There is absolutely no evidence that any of what Trump wrote in the letter is true. (He appears to have cobbled much of it together from a group known as Audit the Vote PA, which touts a number of debunked theories about the Pennsylvania vote count.) And by giving Trump such prominent space, you are conferring some credibility to what we know are wild and fact-free conspiracy theories.

So, why did the Journal do it?

Well, their opinion section has long been quite conservative. And a letter from the former president of the United States is not the easiest thing in the world to say “no” to. Plus, the letter was sure to be a massive traffic driver for the Journal’s website; it is currently the third most popular Opinions piece on the site and spent much of the first hours after publication in the number one slot.

None of these reasons, however, are good enough to justify the publication of a lie-filled letter from Trump, a letter which will continue to foment the misguided belief among his loyal supporters that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Especially since we saw on January 6 what all of those lies can create.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

Enforcing the Trump Return to the Presidency

Who is tracking the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and QAnon groups?  Nothing is in the news and maybe that is a good thing.  Those groups were the prominent participants in the January 6 insurrection.

As has been discussed on cable news shows there is a group of QAnon and other right wing groups that are prompted by My Pillow owner Mike Lindell and right wing lawyer Sidney Powell that believe Donald Trump will be restored to the presidency between August 5 and August 13.

If that does not happen will they attempt an insurrection in early August?

We should be concerned about people like Jake Angeli, also known as the “QAnon Shaman”, “Q Shaman”, and “Yellowstone Wolf”, is an American conspiracy theorist, author, and activist who participated in the 2021 United States Capitol attack.  He is not a stupid man. He attended Arizona’s Glendale Community College, where he completed some coursework in psychology, religion, philosophy, and ceramics.

If you are not concerned about the American democracy you should be.