By EProf2, a Trail Mix Contributor
Winston Churchill famously predicted that an iron curtain was falling down between western democracies and the Soviet Union after the end of World War II. This was an international curtain separating two competing ideologies.
Today, there is no doubt that a domestic curtain is falling down around the United States, not to separate competing ideologies but to enhance the views of one man’s governing ambitions and style.
History has shown us that many democracies had curtains fall down around them when “strong and decisive” figures took extra-legal steps to cement their elected positions. The most famous of these democratic societies falling to a dictatorship enveloped in a curtain was Adolph Hitler in Germany in the 1930’s. Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Peron in Argentina, and elsewhere. Democracies are not immune from coup d’etats and elected dictatorships.
Recent examples include Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Hungary, and most of the former Soviet Republics.
Thus far in the history of the United States there has been a strong acceptance of democratic processes over strong elected personalities. There have been some examples of anti-democratic leaders in our history. The most famous was Huey Long in Louisiana. Some historians think that Douglas MacArthur might have had the ability to use the military to overthrow President Truman after the president fired the General over disagreement on the use of atomic weapons during the Korean War. MacArthur, as a principled small d democrat, declined and quietly faded away as he said he would.
Today, the United States faces a crisis of the strong man taking the first steps toward total control of government.
- First, dismiss anyone who dares to challenge his authority and point of view.
- Second, surround himself with family, generals, and millionaires and billionaires who share his concept of a corporate state.
- Third, slowly cut off press access to the agencies and bureaus vital to a democracy.
- Fourth, destroy scientific data and cripple previous scientific truths.
- Fifth, take away or tilt voting in favor of one political party.
- Sixth, through propaganda and lying, convince the people that he is making “America Great Again,” even though wages will be kept low, health care will be diminished or eliminated, and only the leader can “fix it” for the people.
- Seventh, allow no transparency to the strong man’s economic and political transactions.
- And, lastly, create a bogey man or woman, like the last candidate in the presidential election, that can be blamed for everything that doesn’t fit the prevailing political picture.
Put together, those are some obvious pitfalls and major concerns for the survival of American democracy.
Democracy is the most fragile of all governing systems. Let’s hope our system and the American people are capable of preserving and strengthening American democracy in the face of a descending curtain around the Republic.
As Benjamin Franklin said as he emerged from the constitutional convention and was asked what form of government we would have, he said, “a Republic…if you can keep it.”
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