May 25, 2023

The Great ‘Democracy’ Heist

The opportunity to politicize threats to democracy is evidently too inviting to pass up. For progressives, it has become a one-size-fits-all political rallying cry.

The alarm bell is clanging. American democracy is in serious peril. We almost lost it on January 6, and if we elect the wrong crowd, they’ll try again.

It’s a near-constant political refrain from the progressive Left. For example, last week’s DNC online funding appeal quoted Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden all warning of that imminent threat. The president works it into every speech. Politicians and TV talkingheads follow suit, incessantly.

We should take it seriously. Our form of government is not a pure democracy; it’s a Democratic Republic. But the underlying principle of democracy — Lincoln’s government of the people, by the people, and for the people — is the heart and soul of our nation. If we lose that, little else matters.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to politicize threats to democracy is evidently too inviting to pass up. For progressives, it has become a one-size-fits-all political rallying cry — most often personified by Donald Trump, the defeated president who attempted to derail the certification of his successor, presumably to reinstall himself as president. Never forget: It was an insurrection!

But first, a bit of realism:

Long before media and politicians took it upon themselves to interpret what happened, we all watched it unfold in real time. We watched Trump’s meltdown at losing to an uninspiring opponent who’d campaigned from his basement and then somehow managed to garner millions more votes than any presidential candidate in history.

We watched as Trump searched frantically for a judge to reverse the election outcome, and, failing that, to hold up the train by challenging the election certification (a tactic attempted by others in previous elections). We watched as Trump orchestrated a massive rally of supporters on January 6 — and we watched, with head-shaking dismay, as his rally devolved into an invasion by some into the Capitol building.

That wasn’t the first protest-turned-violent we’ve ever seen. Just four years before, there had been a violent protest of Trump’s own inauguration, just blocks away from the Capitol. And following George Floyd’s death there were thousands of violent protests nationwide.

The January 6 riot targeting the U.S. Capitol itself was particularly ugly and alarming. But until a TV commentator likened it to an insurrection, that label would seem a gross exaggeration.

Insurrections are big operations. Our American Civil War claimed over 600,000 lives over four awful years. A century later, our CIA recruited, equipped, armed, and trained an assault force of 3,000 to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro — and failed miserably. By comparison, the notion that a rowdy group of Proud Boys armed with flagpoles could depose the United States government is patently absurd.

But before we dismiss the thought entirely, let’s consider more broadly some other very real events that should give us pause about the safety of our democracy:

  • As recently confirmed in the Durham report — and evident to anyone paying attention — our FBI actively interfered with the 2016 election, and for two years thereafter conducted an intensely disruptive investigation into the transparently bogus Russia collusion allegations.

  • During the 2020 presidential election, progressive print, broadcast, and social media — with active engagement of the FBI and misleading input from former CIA officials — collaborated to keep important, credible information from American voters.

  • Actions of the Nancy Pelosi-led House and the U.S. Department of Justice greatly exacerbated public misperceptions of 1/6/21, to the point that many Americans tacitly accept the illogical premise that it was truly an “insurrection.”

In each case, politicized interference, particularly by agents of the government, has undermined free public engagement in the election process, the essence of democracy.

So, for once I’ll side with Clinton, Obama, and Co. — to a point, at least — and agree that Americans should be concerned about the loss of our democracy.

But if that happens, it won’t be by armed assault or violent coup, and not at the hands of an unruly band of protesters inspired by an angry orange-haired tyrant. Nor will it involve the hacking of voting machines or the mysterious appearance of boxes of blank ballots.

No, the loss of democracy — if it happens — will be smooth and seamless. Voting will probably be even easier than today, although less secure. More importantly, people will know whom to vote for, based on convincing guidance from every form of modern communications. Those in power will know how to keep themselves in power, and voters will have been conditioned to support them, unconditionally.

In fact, I suspect that if we lose our democracy, we won’t even notice that it’s gone. We’ll still have something we call democracy, but it will not be the same. We’ll salute the same flag but it will just carry a different meaning.

With that awful prospect in mind, we’d best remain on high alert for the real threats to democracy.

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