You don’t have to look very far to see just how much the GOP despises democracy.
If you’ve been wondering why Republicans have been turning a blind eye to Trump’s dismantling of the checks and balances of our democracy, consider the possibility that they are just as eager to get rid of them as he is.
You don’t have to look very far to see just how much the GOP despises democracy. Republican-inflicted voter suppression and deliberate gerrymandering are good examples of right-wing rigging. Both are about as un-democratic as you can get. Republicans also seem to be pretty good at acting like they ‘love’ the Constitution, yet the same groups that are backing an Article V constitutional convention also support the GOP.
Like Trump, Republicans crave power and are using the levers of the democratic system to tear its foundations apart. The reason they are able to do this is because the Founding Fathers never imagined that lawmakers would ever want to do any such thing. Therefore, safeguards to prevent it are flawed. However, they did realize that hyper-partisanship was an existential threat to the republic.
In his farewell address in 1796, President George Washington said,
The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them….
But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.
The cravings of the powerful for more power, money, and influence are universal threats to free societies. And the battles between the classes they evoke are as old as humanity itself.
What George Washington saw as he left office was the potential for abuse in a system that was intentionally designed to be complex, because when it came to governing, he knew simplicity was too easy to undo.
Despite the creative genius of the U.S. Constitution, it was never a perfect document. Nor was it ever designed to be abused the way Trump and the Republicans are abusing it. Let’s face it, in a truly free and democratic society, political parties would never be complacent when the dismantling of their own democracy was at stake. Yet here we are.
The Washington Post Editorial Board asked a simple question that it answered with a sobering response.
Is Mr. Trump a threat to democracy? In history, it has generally been a mistake to laugh off the words of would-be dictators as they climbed to power. “If I become president, oh, do they have problems,” Mr. Trump says. If he acts on his threats, none of us will be able to say we received no warning.
America’s democracy may in fact survive Donald Trump. But it is unlikely many will remember his farewell address 221 years from now. Perhaps that’s because so many people are trying so hard to understand how he was ever elected in the first place.
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