What would the United States look like without a democracy? We’ve heard the warnings but I haven’t yet read much of anything about the consequences of deconstructing our democracy as the Republican Party under the auspices of Donald Trump seems intent on doing. Here are my thoughts if this were to actually happen, modeled some after other countries who chose to go this route, either through the ballot box or military coup:
* Elections would be, for all intents and purposes, a sham, as they are in Russia, Cuba, and China, for example. The ruling party would always win, regardless of the vote, which would be counted by…the ruling party. The way Republicans have currently enacted new election laws in 19 states, many voters who they deem against them would essentially be excluded from voting. Results would be tabulated by Republican officials. Results could be changed according to the whims and inclinations of Republican legislatures. There would still be a bicameral Congress but it would essentially be window-dressing, rubber-stamping everything coming from the Executive Branch.
* The Executive Branch would be run by a small group of oligarchs beholden to an authoritarian leader who would arbitrarily make key decisions around domestic and foreign affairs. Legal due process would essentially be suspended, opponents, dissidents, and protesters rounded up and detained without benefit of counsel, and tried in secret courts.
* The press would be censored and controlled by the Executive Branch. Opposition press would be summarily shut down without benefit of appeal.
* Free speech, as we’ve known it, would be suspended, along with the entire Bill of Rights, under the guise of national security, a justification given for all executive orders, all of which would demand absolute fealty from the population.
* Citizens would be encouraged and rewarded for spying on other citizens, as is true in present-day China, Cuba, North Korea, and, of course, Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia.
* The gap between the rich and the poor would widen, with the elite largely immune from income taxes, and the middle class and poor underpaid and overtaxed.
* The general health of the population would tumble, along with life expectancy, as health insurance would revert to large, profit-driven companies and hospitals providing low quality health care. There would be chronic shortages of lower paid doctors and nurses, driving them out of the profession.
* The country’s infrastructure would deteriorate fairly quickly since tax dollars would funnel to the Executive Branch, padding the pockets of the oligarchs, as is in Russia and China.
* Organized crime would proliferate, with authoritarian rule driving legitimate businesses out of business, creating a vacuum for organized crime peddling drugs, sex, and weapons on the street. The Executive Branch would conveniently order its Judicial Branch to look away and keep prosecutions to a minimum.
* And, yes, the Justice Department would now fall under the control of the Executive Branch, marching in lockstep with the leaders.
* Deregulaton would be the order of the day, with corporations permitted to conduct business as they wished. Environmental rules and restrictions would be abandoned by executive order with pollution, global warming, climate change, forest harvesting, wildlife eradication all running helter skelter. The Environmental Protection Agency would be dismantled.
* As for the Covid pandemic, count on enough misinformation to keep pandemics going indefinitely, with the authoritarian government and its cabal of cult anti-vax/anti-mask, and QAnon, followers doing little to stop them.
* The Supreme Court would be filled completely with extreme right wing conservatives, puppets of the Executive Branch. And lower courts, the same.
* Violent white supremacist groups would find renewed favor from the government, facing little control of their intimidating tactics against Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Gays, Moslems, Immigrants, etc. etc. etc.
* And finally (there’s more, but I’ll mercifully end it here), the Executive Branch will establish an Office of Truth and Information, which will funnel any and all information and determine what is true and what is fake or false. The foreign press will call it Censorship Central.
Hold On, sings Adele. We’re headed for a very rough ride unless…we, as a nation, decide to really, actually, and truly Save America.
My two latest books are The Valley Spirit: Living a Tao-inspired Life with a foreword by Al Huang, author with Alan Watts of Tao: The Watercourse Way, and Into the Woods…and Beyond with a foreword by Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul. You might consider these for yourself or as a gift. You can find them at Amazon in either ebook or paperback versions. Thank you.