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Democracy? What Democracy?

Democracy in America 2016

Pagun

VANCOUVER ISLAND) The Washington Post recently published an article describing the results of a study that seem to show that Americans’ confidence in their government is at its lowest ebb since the Civil War. Perhaps even more significantly, confidence in the very idea of democracy has waned to the point that a majority now distrust democracy as a governance paradigm. And, perhaps not surprisingly, this distrust is manifested most strongly in young adults. As many as half of millennials claim that they accept-resultswill not accept the legitimacy of the elections or the new president if their candidate loses. That refusal to acknowledge the results of next month’s election is expressed in a majority of Trump’s supporters and a significant minority of Clinton’s.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to point out that for a democracy to function at all, the people must be prepared to accept the wishes of the majority and respect the democratic mechanisms in place to determine the will of the people. Without that social contract, no form of democratic governance – government by the people – is even possible. For it to work, a democratic system must be supported by all the people, not just those whose candidate prevails.

It is for that reason that one is hard pressed to disagree with the cynicism of those who no longer have confidence in the democracy of the United States of America. At the very outset of the Obama presidency, the Republican Party, unable to accept Barack Obama as their president, made it a policy to disrupt, to block, to hamstring his every effort to govern. One of the two major parties in an essentially blame-obamatwo-party system refused to accept the legitimacy of a democratically elected black president. Democracy American style began its death spiral on inauguration day 2008, when GOP leaders met and formulated their policy of refusing to cooperate with a White House occupied by a black man. The first concerted effort to reject democracy as the paradigm of US governance was made by the party of Lincoln.

Donald Trump is the logical outgrowth of the Republican’s policy of ending democracy in America. He was created by the GOP and every one of his outrages was perfectly predictable, given the direction in which the party was heading. He is an unabashed racist; perfectly in line with the Republicans’ disdain for African Americans and other minorities. He is a misogynist; appropriate for the party that wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and return women to the kitchens. He is a climate change denier; right in line with the party that’s bought and paid for by big oil. But mostly he is a fascist, with dreams of ruling the people he despises; a perfect nominee for a party that rejects democracy.

As the campaign lurches into its final days, the toxic shitshow of which Trump is the ringmaster reaches a new low point virtually every day. But since the Republican nominee has exhausted the supply of ethnic groups to trumpolinimalign and has already alienated pretty much every demographic except poorly educated white males, he has now decided to dispense with any pretensions of being anything but an authoritarian with a vision of America that can’t be honestly described as anything but fascist.

In what democracy on earth does a candidate vow to imprison his opponent if he wins? The most accurate answer to the question is that it doesn’t occur in a democracy; it happens in the United States of America. The United States of America hasn’t been a true democracy for some time. In a democracy, there would have been no President George W. Bush to lie, knowingly and deliberately, to the country in order to start a war to enrich himself, his cronies, and his ego. There would have been no President George W. Bush because the candidate elected by the people, Al Gore, would have been inaugurated instead. In fact, in any country other than the US, George W Bush’s assumption of the presidency would have been recognised for what it was, and described as such: a coup d’etat.

But the Republican mission to bring an end to democracy in the US should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention; that intention has been out in the open for decades. When Ronald Reagan, at every opportunity from the Johnny Carson Show to the State of the Union Address, reagan-idiotasserted that people shouldn’t look to the government for solutions to their problems; that government was the problem, nobody believed he meant that literally. After all, he lived in government housing, and deposited his government cheque, and flew on government transportation, in the company of dozens of others who all did the same. In truth, he didn’t mean that the notion of government is wrong per se. He meant that democratic government was wrong; he clearly believed that leaders like himself and his select subordinates and their families should continue to draw their incomes from public coffers but the people who fill those coffers should not have access to them. The people should be self reliant and fend for themselves; anything else was immoral. He wasn’t a small ‘D’ democrat; he was a plutocrat. The United States is a plutocracy now, and this election is offering the people an opportunity to become a purely fascist plutocracy.

The Republicans have all along supported the plutocracy and in this election cycle they are simply asking for the final seal of approval in an effort to remove the necessity of pretending it is anything else. Remember Grover Norquist vowing to shrink government down to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub? He didn’t mean all government. He meant those parts of the government that are involved in corporatewelfarevssocialwelfareproviding social services and programmes for those in need. He meant those aspects of government that could be considered democratic. He had no problem with the government stepping in to control women’s bodies, or providing billions of dollars annually to corporate interests. Democracy, not government was the problem. Note the gerrymandering that ensured a Republican House for the foreseeable future; note the Republican organised efforts at voter suppression; they weren’t even pretending to want a democracy. Putting a fascist in the White House, particularly an inept, not terribly bright, and easily manipulated fascist, wofree-pressuld ensure the long term survival of the plutocracy.

Donald Trump suits the needs of the entrenched powers. They know that he’s lazy, ignorant, and far more interested in the trappings of power than actually administrating the affairs of state. As long as he gets to attend rallies and hear his name chanted, others will be able to maintain and ensure the survival of the plutocracy. With him in the White House, the limitations on the rights and freedoms of the people will be easy to manage. Trump has free-speechalready promised to impose stricter limits on the free press. He has already promised to impose stricter limits on free speech. He built his campaign on promises to take actions that are not permitted under the constitution as it currently exists. His handlers will have no problem imposing fascism under a Trump presidency.

The only real problem facing the Republicans at the moment is the establishment of a true hierarchy of hidden power. In their view, Trump will be the figurehead national leader while his strings are pulled by the true wielders of power; but who will that be? The party is falling apart because of utter internal chaos and an apparent inability to organise anything more complicated than a month or two vacation for themselves.

But should the Koch Brothers finally get fed up with all the clowning around in the GOP, for-sale-your-soulthey’ll just put their financial foot down and read them the riot act. They’ll tell them what to do and the soulless legislators they own will snap to attention and do as they’re told. The plutocracy will prevail. It won’t hit the tipping point this time, because Trump is going to get his ass handed to him in November. But Hillary as president won’t change much, and the Republicans will have four, or possibly eight years to regroup. And then, unless there is some cataclysmic change, or a revolution in the thinking of the people of the US, the plutocracy will once again flirt with fascism.

ENDITEM…

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Comments

  1. Gear Mentation says:

    “It doesn’t seem unreasonable to point out that for a democracy to function at all, the people must be prepared to accept the wishes of the majority and respect the democratic mechanisms in place to determine the will of the people. ”

    Please excuse the interruption, but apparently you missed the rigging of the Democratic primary.

    • As you know from our other conversation…I took both sides to ask. Okay…more so the Republicans, but they’re both at fault

  2. John Bleau says:

    Pat, I take it you meant you took both sides to task (not ask) – I had to reread it a couple of times.

    Gear Mentation’s comment deserves more consideration than you gave. The Democratic primary was almost certainly rigged and without consequences to any wrongdoers. It is therefore a legitimate concern whether or not the general election might also be rigged.

    Also, the “majority” is a misnomer: rarely is a US President elected by more than 25% of the total population. It has even happened that a President was elected with less than a plurality.
    You might also consider that Adolf Hitler was democratically elected (with a plurality, not a majority), and you might understand people not being willing to accept such wishes of the so-called majority.

    There are many instances where in a democracy people could be perfectly justified in rejecting the will of the majority. One obvious example would be the majority voting some minority into slavery – that minority could hardly be willing to accept the wishes of the majority, now, could they? This alone should refute your statement.

    We’re currently fiddling while Rome burns. Defcon has just been raised to 3 (from 4 – it’s a countdown…) due to frictions with Russia emanating from deplorable geopolitical strategies favouring huge moneyed interests. Should the majority’s decision lead to further escalation, risking a devastating world war, I would certainly not accept its wishes.

    Now Pat, you describe the US as a plutocracy. It is, maybe even the whole world is, lorded over by a banking cartel and the individuals above that. It is also an oligarchy, and I have long viewed Republican/Democrat as mostly a false dichotomy. Mostly, with some differences. This time, however, with establishment Republicans jumping ship to the Clinton side, there may be a genuine and important difference between the two sides. You have demagogue vs. establishment.

    We might think of the Republicans as being the party of Big Business, but a look at the Clinton campaign’s donors puts that impression on its head (Time Warner, Goldman Sachs, other banks…). That is the same establishment that has led to sensitive flashpoints around the world – North Korea, the South China Sea, the Middle East, Ukraine and Russia.

    This campaign does not provide a choice that is as clear cut as your blog would have us believe. Take Trump’s attitude toward Muslim immigrants – how does that rate vs. the State Department’s Middle East and Syria policy? – destruction of Libya, arming of ISIS, destabilization of Syria and parts of Africa, the chemical weapons false flag (almost certainly) in Syria and the dislocation of millions (?) of Muslim refugees?

    If you were American, would you be prepared to accept the wishes of the majority if it were to vote for continuation of such policies? Not I.

  3. Hi, John! I’m in a bit of rush, so this will have to be brief; we can pick it up again later if your wish. First of all, it’s not reflected clearly here but Gear Mentation and I had a lengthy back and forth on Facebook Messenger in which his points were addressed in great detail; turned out we were almost exactly on the same page after we each clarified our positions.

    Secondly…yup, you’re right. Typo on “task”.

    Finally. In a nutshell, it comes down to this: Is Trump genuinely an existential threat to the US and the world, as I believe? Or is the continuation of the status quo for another four and possibly 8 years a more serious threat?

    I think that under a Clinton presidency, a change might come and the Sanders movement might gain strength and come to dominate the political left in the US. I think that under a Trump presidency, Sanders and his supporters could literally find themselves up against a wall with blindfolds. I think it’s that serious.

    There’s much more to say on this, but I’m on a deadline…so all the best!

  4. John Bleau says:

    Sure, we can pick it up later.
    Sanders and gang against a wall with blindfolds? I’d need a little convincing on that one…

    I had not seen the past discussion with Gear, so the fact that it occurred on Facebook Messenger explains that.

    I’ll check in occasionally, as usual, and will see if more comments are added.

    BTW, I bumped into a Switzerdeutsch woman today.

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