I’ve come to believe that the polarities in our country have less to do with political parties then with being in favor of or against democracy. And it may be a pretty even break. Since we have a representative democracy where we elect leaders to represent us on Federal, State, and Local levels, the actions of those representatives reflect the mood, temperament, and wishes of the voters of their district. So when all of the Republicans in the House vote against a bill that all the Dems voted for, you’ve got a good picture of the country as a whole. And when you have a routine measure like the debt limit voted on the other day, the picture becomes crystal clear. The debt limit was protected against partisan manipulation back in 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, and it hasn’t been an issue since…until now.
What’s more, the debt limit does not relate to current spending but to the previous spending of the prior administration, in this case the 7.8 trillion that Trump spent to add to the deficit. That means that all the Republicans in the House voted against the ability of the government to pay for the money their dear leader Trump borrowed, and they approved, in the last part of his presidency. Their purpose? To seek political revenge against the Democrats, while hurting the country at large. That is not how a democracy is supposed to work. It’s not an adolescent game of tit for tat, of if you do that to me, I’ll do this to you, of, as a Mafiosa boss might say, play ball with me or you’re toast!(except the Godfather doesn’t represent anyone but himself and “his family”).
Of course the main thing a democracy guarantees is the right to vote, and the 14th Amendment took care of that for all male citizens, black or white, though not yet for women. That didn’t come until 1920 with the 19th Amendment. And the 14th insured there would be no abridgment of the right to vote, which included voter suppression laws that are now presently in effect in some 17 Republican controlled states. My question now is why hasn’t the present Justice Department under Merrick Garland challenged those laws on the basis of the 14th Amendment? What’s he waiting for? The ’22 election is too important to allow those laws to go unchallenged, and the DOJ is the only viable agency to do so. So wake up Mr. Garland and do your job!
Democracy’s been around since the 5th century B.C., starting in Athens, Greece when that town was itself a city-state. It started as a direct democracy like they have in Switzerland today, but evolved into different forms such our representative form and Britain’s Parliamentary form. But you may not have known that at the very beginning of our country, there was a strong anti-democracy movement, similar to what we see today with Trump and the Republican party. This was spearheaded by the aristocracy who were mostly elites and slave holders in the Deep South and in Appalachia. They were blatantly and openly white supremacists who believed the “Negro” race as well as poor whites should be subservient and enslaved to the rich who alone were civilized and cultured enough to set the standards for society. They used all sorts of rationales, including the Bible and the pseudo-science of the day to eventually convince even poor whites from the South and midlands to fight a Civil War to preserve slavery and the positions of the wealthy plantation owners throughout the Deep South. That foul air of white supremacy lingers to this day in the policies of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and his cult followers who would like to see him back in power, not as a president but, this time, as an oligarch and, perhaps, worse.
So, yes, we’ve seen this before–with Native Americans, with black slaves from Africa, with Irish Catholics from Ireland, with Jews from Eastern Europe, with Hispanics, with Moslems, with Chinese immigrants, with gays and lesbians, with the disabled, with Black American citizens. Have I missed other fringe groups? Probably. We have not been a particularly tolerant and compassionate country. And we needn’t look any farther than today to the actions of the Trump Republican Party to see examples of this intolerance and obstructionist policy.
But now they see a real opening to bury this ancient blot on aristocracy called democracy with a Napolean called Donald Trump. So they rally round this charlatan and drape him in praise and gold. They explain away his obvious lies. We all saw the January 6th insurrection with our own eyes. We saw Trump incite the crowd beforehand. We saw the Trump infused animals storm the Capitol, harm officers, put our legislators in fear for their lives, smash TV equipment, even kill one officer, Brian Sicknick. We saw how they desecrated and tried to overturn the workings of democracy, without remorse, without shame. And now Republicans are trying to pass this off as an anomaly, as just one day, as something Trump had no part in.
It doesn’t fly, does it. It just doesn’t bloody fly. Our eyes told our brains the truth. And as long as the truth stands tall and true, democracy will endure. These wee radical right wing, white supremacist Trump politicians can’t destroy it. It has endured since the 5th century B.C.
Oh, and btw, another provision of the 14th Amendment put forth, in case the GOP and Fox News didn’t tell you: In its later sections, the 14th Amendment authorized the federal government to punish states that violated or abridged their citizens’ right to vote by proportionally reducing the states’ representation in Congress, and mandated that anyone who “engaged in insurrection” against the United States could not hold civil, military or elected office (without the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate).” Perhaps Donald Trump and company weren’t aware of that provision…nor apparently is Merrick Garland.
As for democracy’s essence and prophecy, Lincoln said it simply and best: ” this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
My new book The Valley Spirit: Living a Tao-inspired Life is now available via Amazon. It’s a gently stated book, published by my own Sacajawea Press, that will enrich and enliven your life. I hope you purchase it and enjoy it. I mean, sheez, it’s 99 cents, for God’s sake! Thanks, y’all.