A friend told me on the phone this weekend our nation “has made it” in surviving the four years of Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office. I commented that is a sad metric in which to gauge the history of someone who had taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Yet, the assessment of my friend is how many feel as we move towards the inauguration of Joe Biden. But they are wrong if thinking our nation has arrived at a new place just because we jettisoned the cause of our alarm.
In thy most absurd, willfully chaotic, crude, and menacing presidency in our nation’s history Trump has not only created and furthered a deep and dangerous divide among the people but also undermined our democracy. It is a regrettable and terrible thing to lose, and a most difficult thing to regain.
A new CBS News poll finds 71% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is threatened, while 29% think it is secure.
After the attacks, the rhetoric and attempts to overturn electoral votes, here’s how Americans describe democracy and rule of law in the U.S. today: just 6% think it “very secure” and just 29% think it’s at least somewhat secure at all. The rest see it threatened.
It is shocking to ponder how much discord and disunity was produced in just one term of Trump. Hollywood screenwriters are the ablest to conjure up the nightmare had Trump somehow been allowed to remain in office for another term. Even with his leaving this week we are reminded in stark terms how events we took for granted have morphed into the surreal.
“The roughly 25,000 National Guardsmen deployed to the U.S. capital to ensure President-elect Joe Biden is able to be sworn in peacefully went through an additional background check to weed out any whiff of domestic extremism.”
I have lamented many times–too many needed times–that illiberal democracy was taking hold in varying ways in our nation. We know it does not take long for certain ideas and careless actions to take hold among a certain demographic in the land, and that only further aids the undermining of our American ideals. Therefore, I am very pleased this morning to read a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 68% of Americans oppose President Trump pardoning himself for any federal crimes he may be accused of committing.
In another measure, despite Trump’s unsupported allegations of widespread voter fraud, Americans see Biden as the legitimate winner of November’s presidential election by an almost 2-to-1 margin, 62%-32%.
There was been a most disturbing trend among the conservative Republican base to saddle up to misinformation and wrap their arms around conspiracy theories. For a functioning democracy to thrive there must be a fact-based citizenry. It will be vital that from every region of our nation, and from all levels, that a determined effort is made to assert truth and facts.
I have watched the election chaos and followed the reasons many offer for why passions have been unleashed in the way they have over the past months. To know many feel their religion is under attack, or that laws are changing and social adjustments accordingly are adapting, while economic tensions rise should not be a reason to throw rational thinking aside for a pure demagogue. We have allowed the present state of affairs to develop through a continual dumbing down of our nation, the undermining of education (history and civics in particular) and the retreat from teaching people how to think vs. what to think.
A famous quote attributed to Ben Franklin has often been on my mind over the past months as we closed out an election campaign and then were subjected to the autocratic attempt to throw out the voters’ desire at the ballot box. As the story goes Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “What have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”
To which Franklin supposedly responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
We have that chance again, starting anew this week, to step up to the plate and align ourselves with the ideals of the nation. We have seen what happens when we pretend such work is not important, or that it can be left to others who care not what happens.