America isn't guaranteed a happy ending

A failure of imagination

  
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The clarion calls of democratic doom are out there, but are newsrooms listening? Trump Republicans are methodically and unapologetically out to derail American democracy, yet there remains a working media assumption that it can’t happen here.

“I'm astonished that more people don't see, or can't face, America's existential crisis,” Hillary Clinton warned this week. She fears “our democracy will [soon] be broken and taken over and minority rule will be what we live under. The norm.”

Appearing on MSNBC, Republican Trump critic Stuart Stevens pleaded his succinct case: “My plea to Democrats would be to just understand what is at stake here. The problem King George had was he couldn’t imagine the creation of an American democracy, and we suffer from the same problem. We can`t imagine the ending of American democracy, but it can happen.”

And writing in the Washington Post, foreign affairs author Robert Kagan warned, “The amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020.”

That’s the key — in the weeks following Trump’s defeat, he and his crooked allies utilized an ad hoc, Hail Mary approach to try to steal back the White House. After he failed, instead of the Republican Party recoiling from the idea of trying to throw out millions of legitimate votes, the GOP set out to create a backstop in states around the country that would codify the next attempt by Republicans to throw out millions of legitimate votes.

Today, Trump and his followers are using lawsuits, legislation, and terroristic threats to curtail the right to vote. It’s all being done in plain sight, yet there remains a stubborn newsroom assumption that American democracy cannot be systematically steamrolled.

This was Kagan’s essential warning: “As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian.”

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America isn’t guaranteed a happy ending, although most of us grew up with the shared assumption that it was. After more than two-and-a-half centuries as one of the world’s thriving democracies, the United States truly does face an existential crisis, as conservatives, fueled by Trump’s GOP, walk away from democratic rule and embrace the chaos of authoritarianism.

• 7 in 10 Republicans don’t believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

• 66% of red state Republicans want to secede from the United States.

• Despite the fact that right-wing fraud “audit” in Arizona found no proof of ballot wrongdoing, Republicans are eagerly sponsoring similar assaults on election integrity across the country.

• A day after results from Arizona confirmed Biden won the Copper State, Trump announced at a rally that the ballot review proved he had won.

• The Travis County Democratic Party headquarters in Texas was firebombed last week by a domestic terrorist.

• In Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold has accused a local county clerk of “sneaking someone into the county elections offices to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines. Those copies later surfaced online and in the hands of election deniers.”

• Across the country, Trump supporters are hanging black American flags out in front of their homes signifying “no quarter will be given,” and that if necessary they will kill America’s enemies — Democrats, Liberals, LGBTQ, BIPOC, and the vaccinated.

• GOP Covid zombies continue to attack communities nationwide, with one deranged speaker at a local school board meeting recently warning, "I'd rather see this school in ashes” than see students wearing masks.

Still, the press keeps its distance. “As Trump looks and sounds increasingly like he intends to mount a presidential campaign rerun, Democrats and democracy experts are grappling with what such a campaign — and a potential second Trump presidency — would mean for the country,” the Washington Post reported. Noticeably absent from the short list of parties preparing for the worst (i.e. “democracy advocates”) are journalists.

This country has been facing a looming and open threat for a year now, ever since Trump signaled in September 2020, that he would not abide by the election results and assure a peaceful transfer of power – then everything unraveled from there. But news organizations still see themselves primarily as witnesses in the drama, paid to document the beating that democracy is taking at the hands of radical Republicans who try to dismantle the concept of free and fair elections in America.

It's almost 2022 and outlets like Washington Post are still pointlessly, and sheepishly, referring to incessant Trump lies about the election as “baseless claims” and “false allegations.”

Too many journalists don’t see themselves as having a vested interest in America maintaining a functioning democracy. They’re afraid that’s seen as picking sides so they remain reluctant to call out the party that’s purposely threatening it.

America’s centuries-old grand experiment is being threatened like never before. It’s a defining crisis our Founding Fathers never could have imagined. It’s how democracy dies. And yes, it can happen here.

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(Photo: Atta Kenare/Getty Images)

🗞 GOOD STUFF:

From Chauncey DeVega’s excellent Salon piece, “Will the Mainstream Media Ever Face Its Failure to Tell The Truth About Jan. 6?”:

How have many of the gatekeepers of approved public discourse in America responded to the events of Jan. 6 and the continuing attacks on American democracy? For the most part, by throwing their huge mistake down the memory hole. The boldest among them now present themselves as full-throated defenders of American democracy, claiming that they actually warned the country and the world about Trump's imminent coup attempt.

They simply hope that the public is not paying attention. To watch this public rewrite of American history in real time is something like seeing a TV series recast a prominent character with a new actor in the middle of a season, while pretending that nothing has changed. Given the limited attention span of the American people at large, this ploy may work.

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🎧 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

James Maddock, “Another Chance”

For me, this The New York City singer-songwriter (via Leicester, England) can do no wrong. He remains a sterling storyteller with an uncanny knack for melody and warmth.

With his newest, he takes a forlorn look at love, but does with his signature wink and nod, which makes it impossible not to sing along.

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