June 2, 2023

we really have a democracy

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 30 December 2021WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932Do we really have a democracy?By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift          WASHINGTON — Republicans are confident that gerrymandering alone will enable them to pick up the five seats needed to gain back control of the House of Representatives. That would mean the end of the special committee now looking into the perpetrators of the January 6 insurrection. The cast of subpoenaed characters is already stonewalling their way to safety knowing they can simply run out the clock until the GOP is back in power.          Republicans could be in for a surprise. The more voters learn about the devious tactics they are using, the greater likelihood there is of a backlash. It’s not just gerrymandering, the GOP is breaking all the rules on its way to the midterm elections, politicizing election boards and secretaries of state to ensure MAGA (Trump’s Make America Great Again movement) people are installed at every level of the electoral process.          Groups that monitor democracies are ringing the alarm bell. There are not that many functioning democracies to begin with, and the United States is not among the best. In Europe, where the picture is mixed, Germany’s top two political parties once attracted 90 percent of the vote; now they pull in less than 50 percent.          The splintering of parties in a democracy gives marginal figures a greater voice and makes it difficult to form a governing coalition, and such marginalizations in Poland and Hungary has given rise to increasingly authoritarian leaders because when people think government isn’t functioning, they turn to strongmen.          Here at home, the divisions in the Democratic Party epitomized by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin have allowed a perception to take hold that Democrats can’t govern at a time when the Republicans are putting in place people and procedures to win by any means necessary.          Manchin claims his opposition to the Democrats’ legislative agenda is based on inflationary fears, but there is ample evidence he is wrong. The inflation we are experiencing is to be expected after two years of an economic shutdown. Pent-up consumer demand for goods and services is through the roof, and that’s a good thing.          The Build Back Better bill will help ease inflation by helping families with childcare costs and prescription drug costs, as well as address the most pressing climate change issues.          But Democrats are doing a poor job making their case while Republicans are gaming the rules to make sure they win by hook or by crook. And if there’s no penalty for those who encouraged the January 6 insurrection, do we really have a democracy?          If there’s no penalty for installing election officials who have no interest in a fair count of the vote, but who are determined to vindicate the former president’s claim that he won the 2020 election, and his victory was stolen from him, do we really have a democracy?          If the people manipulating the rules conclude they are better off violating past norms and traditions than respecting them, do we really have a democracy?          The former president has made some 80 endorsements of candidates who most people have never heard of because they are running in local elections for school boards and all-important election boards, races that in the past attracted little national attention.         Whether or not Donald Trump is a candidate in 2024, the party he leads is determined to take back power wherever it can and at every level and to do it legitimately if possible, and by devious means if necessary. Voters will need to wake up and fight back if they really want America to remain a democracy.           Douglas Cohn’s latest books are The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND  


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