by Mike Lofgren, January 11, 2017 - BillMoyers.com
Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends
The frightening rise of authoritarian populism in the West is a very real, clear and present danger.
... Even more questionable are some of Trump’s own actions as president-elect. When do American politicians hold rallies? Typically, when they are running for office. The freshly elected Trump, rather than studying up for the job or attending intelligence briefings, went on an extended “thank you tour,” staging political rallies across the country. As the American media have noted, these are not meant to heal divisions and unite the country; they have more to do with score-settling with his opponents while stoking his political base. There was no magnanimity or graciousness as he continued to attack his bested opponent, Hillary Clinton.
He also said he intends to maintain his private security squad even after assuming office. Quite apart from its redundancy, given the presence of the taxpayer-provided Secret Service, the specter of a national leader retaining a private security contingent, particularly one that distinguished itself by roughing up protesters at campaign rallies, is troubling indeed. Bringing up party rallies and private security forces may be condemned as an inadmissible argumentum ad Hitlerum, but it is also hardly grounds for complacency given the violent imagery of Trump’s rhetoric.
... Indeed, one of the striking characteristics of some Trump supporters is a kind of embittered nihilism and a perverse glee at bringing down the system. These, of course, are by no means all of his voters, although they may have been enough to make the difference.
... And even if Trump were elected out of voters’ mistaken premises, what of it? Does that imply Trump will not perform the many potentially destructive acts he has promised to his supporters and threatened to his opponents? Despite his unprecedentedly large popular vote loss as a winning candidate, he and his operatives call his Electoral College victory a landslide and act as if they possess the most overwhelming mandate in history. If the past is any precedent, the signs are not good. George W. Bush won under similar electoral circumstances and proceeded to bulldoze through a policy of stunning fiscal irresponsibility while provoking a war that may have been America’s single greatest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam — or possibly ever.
... So perhaps democracies die of old age and we cannot quite see which event will cause their final cardiac arrest. But more likely, their leaders make avoidable mistakes, and then persist in them because their ideological disposition causes them to resist the warning signs of danger ahead. If authoritarian populism is the wave of the future, its midwife is neoliberal economics turned punitive and illiberal.
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Mike Lofgren is a former congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His book about Congress, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, appeared in paperback on August 27, 2013.
Check out the full story. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/01/11/maybe-how-democracy-ends
Perhaps rationalist’s are the endangered species