Are We Seeing The Downfall Of American Democracy?
In my more depressive moments, I conclude that we already saw it in 2000.
During the Florida recount debacle of 2000, the Democrats' argument was: Our overriding commitment is to democracy. We will accept any outcome of the vote count--but we must count the votes. The Republican argument was: Give us the Presidency. Now.
On almost all ways of counting, Bush won. He won because of the butterfly ballot--so he didn't deserve to win. But he did win. More people tried to vote for Gore; but more people actually voted for Bush.
But that's pretty much irrelevant.
Bush, Cheney and the GOP tried to steal the election. They tried to stop the vote-counting with sophistical arguments (Baker: "it's subjective" (no, it wasn't); it's "divining the intent of the voter" (you mean discerning)). They flew in astroturf crowds of College Republicans to intimidate and physically assault vote-counters. They had an electronic command post coordinating these efforts. Their supporters took to the streets demanding an outcome, not an adherence to fair process. And a partisan Supreme Court stopped the recount with a decision driven by politics and based on the most laughable, patently unsound arguments I've ever seen in a decision from SCOTUS.
This is like staging and armed coup, breaching the White House perimeter, storming in, guns drawn, ready to seize power...only to find out, as you burst into the Oval Office, that you have been declared the winner on an unforeseen technicality. (Or, rather: that you were able to win via legal trickery). Technically you didn't seize power by force. But you tried to. You are the moral equivalent of a traitor.
IMO the GOP went insane some time ago. We let them get away with trying to steal the election of 2000, and continued to pretend that they were a legitimate political party. And now they have created an undeniable monster. And they are allied with Russian intelligence, Julian Assange, and rogue FBI agents to try to illicitly snatch another election--the second one in 16 years--in order to elect a candidate that has exactly no qualifications for office whatsoever...and who may very well be allied with Russia himself.
And, of course, to say that he has exactly no qualifications does not tell the half of it. He is anti-qualified. We may be on the verge of electing someone who has mental problems and criminal tendencies--not to mention an actual criminal history of assault. That's the person who could have his finger on the button.
And the GOP is going right along with it. No...they're not going along with it, they're doing it.
Even if we manage to dodge this bullet, we have a problem. A very, very serious problem. I don't pretend that the Dems are blameless. I think that the Dems might even be worse in the long-run. They might be. In the long-run. But what certain is that the GOP is an undeniable catastrophe here and now.
It's common to argue that everything will be fine, that American Democracy will flourish regardless of what happens. I don't think that's true. And I don't even think that a Trump presidency--horrific thought the possibility is--is the main problem. The main problem is the derangement of the GOP that has made this catastrophe possible. It's the loss of commitment to the American system per se. One thing that American conservatives used to get right, IMO, was Anglophilia over Francophilia. They sought--or said they sought--a more calm, measured, rational, English approach to politics over a more radical, passionate, irrational, French approach...the kind of approach that leads to the guillotine. But goodbye to all that now. Now Republicans are the radicals seeking an apocalyptic break with the status quo.
We might very well be fine. The system is pretty resilient. But I don't see reason for great confidence in the proposition that we will be fine.