I’ve not taken to the keys here since my bleak pronouncement in May that democracy fell that month in these United States. I’ve not done so for several reasons, not the least of which is that I was half-hoping events would force me to write a retraction.
Scanning the political landscape and national news in the ensuing weeks has unearthed nothing* to conclusively rebut my premise. Alas, indeed.
*Perhaps a contra example can be found in the significant rejection of Trump’s “very distinguished” Voter
Fraud Suppression Panel‘s request for voter rolls from all 50 states, but that’s a far from conclusive rebuttal. The number of states openly defiant to the request has grown daily:
But even this glimmer has to be weighed against the creation of the brazenly disingenuous Panel in the first place – a panel co-chaired by the nation’s most high profile vote suppressor, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (sued, successfully, on four separate occasions by the ACLU for his fine work in this field). That move – the Panel – was so aggressively, out-in-the-open-&-not-bothering-to-hide-it anti-democratic it leaves one a little breathless. We’re talking about institutionalizing vote suppression into a federal agency, with the very specific intent of ensuring anti-democratic minority rule directly contrary to the will of the people. Brazen doesn’t begin to capture it. Like so much else, we need new language to describe what this administration has wrought upon us. (Consider how toothless the word “unprecedented” has become in the past year.)
Apart from 27 states’ defiance of Kobach, and a few shafts of light from the judiciary – and let’s hold off on weighing in on the relative independence of that branch of government until we see what a Gorsuch Supreme Court will look like come October – other readily observable indicia continue to overwhelmingly support my conclusion about Democracy’s fall. It’s dark. I’m not going to enumerate them all here, but look around and ask yourself if what you see looks like democracy to you. From Trump’s continued, (now daily) assault on the independent press/media (an old-school authoritarian tactic, that, and heating up significantly this 4th of July weekend), to the following little piece of cheese, all signs point away from democracy:
It’s getting worse, not better, and it will continue to do so until the GOP in Congress have had their fill of the trough (i.e., never) or Trump finally goes too far for even them (i.e., never). Given the lightning speed of the assault – Trump has only been in office six months – and the current rate of acceleration, hopes that the mid-term elections in 2018 will flip Congress and bring sanity back to government grow increasingly unlikely.
One final thought in this postscript: The precise date of the fall is immaterial. Most experts in authoritarian states indicate that the transition away from democracy is not generally a bright line – we shouldn’t expect to suddenly one day see tanks rolling down Broadway and realize – boom – we’re no longer a democracy. Autocracy has got a little creep to it. The transition is far more gradual. The realization will come in the form of realizing democracy fell weeks, months before without us noticing.
So while I chose the day Trump hosted Kislyak and Labrov in the Oval Office – our Oval Office – as reported to us by Russian state-run news service TASS (the only reporters allowed in the room), feel free to pick your own “moment.” Or show me how wrong I am, an endeavor I wholeheartedly endorse in advance.
Meanwhile, I will continue my efforts to chronicle the fall, to protest – in whatever small ways available to private citizens – monstrous GOP healthcare bills and the demonization of immigrants, and to encourage my representatives to fight tooth-and-nail to claw our way back to the democracy we only very recently enjoyed. That, and squeezing whatever moments of joy out of whatever life serves up – are quite possibly the only positive options remaining.