Feel free to steal and share.
Feel free to steal and share.
It shatters your “trust in the world.” It destroys the belief that human beings are bound by an unwritten social contract of respect for each other’s physical and metaphysical being. That first blow by your Nazi captor annihilates “one of the fundamental experiences of human beings,” that another human being will help you. From that moment on, you lose “trust in the world.” Once it is gone, Jean Amery wrote in At the Mind’s Limits, it “can never again be revived.”
Admittedly, the passage of H.R. 1628 by the Republicans, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, does not rise to the level of Nazi torture. Yet the result bears a striking resemblance. It was no secret that upwards of 24 million people would be impacted by the bill’s passage. It was no secret that people would die as a result. It was no secret that millions looked to the Republicans for help. With a glee that echoes that of Amery’s torturer who, after landing blow after blow, stopped to admire his handiwork and enjoy a cigarette, the Republicans rejoiced in their victory over the helpless, the sick, the weak. Like good Nazis, they congratulated themselves for having broken the social contract and ignored pleas for help.
A million or more dead Vietnamese. Carpet-bombing of Cambodia. Napalm. Agent Orange. Torture memos. Black sites. Outing of CIA agents. The carceral state. Love Canal. Wanton killing by the police. Bank bailouts. Deindustrialization. Destruction of jobs. Destruction of the world’s economy. Destruction of the world’s ecology. How many people were prosecuted for any of those actions? One, five, seven? And how many were involved in those actions. One hundred? Five thousand? Seven million? So what do you think will happen if there is an investigation into our Fascist-in-Chief and his cronies? How many people do you think will be prosecuted? One, five, seven? And how many do you think were involved in the destruction of our democracy?by
Our democracy is dead.
I’m sure you don’t believe it. How could democracy be dead? There are no tanks rolling through the streets, no Russian troops landing on our shores, no particle beams from space ships annihilating cities. But you don’t need armed forces or alien beings to kill democracy. You only need to kill two essential characteristics of democracy — the Vote, and the Law.
America has a long history of constricting the right to vote, and a not very long history of expanding that right. In 2000, we watched in horror as the Republicans showed that it can successfully undermine the vote on a national level, aided and abetted by cronies in supreme locations. However, this ability to undermine national elections was not all powerful. The shock of Obama meant there was more to do. They went all out with gerrymandering, purging voter rolls, and creating new (and some not so new) obstacles to voting. They also assured there would be new ways of swaying the vote: dark money that could be used to push an agenda or politician without knowing who was doing the pushing, embracing conspiracy theories, and recently, embracing our mortal enemy Vladimir Putin.
The United States prides itself on being a nation governed by laws. There have been bad laws but in the course of time those laws have been changed for the better. Then that process came to a screeching halt. We’ve seen judges who reinstate bad laws by ignoring precedent or veering off into new territory. This was evident in its worst form in 2000. The Supreme Court overturned the election, effectively undermining both the voting process and our confidence in the Supreme Court to be a neutral arbiter. But it did not end there. This same court poured “Citizens United” acid all over our election process. The coup de grace was the confirmation of the smiling neo-fascist cowboy, Neil Gorsuch, who proudly accepted his position on the court by following a time-honored tradition in America. He stole the position fair and square.
Having successfully undermined the vote and the law, we look to Congress for redress. However, Congress is controlled by domestic traitors operating under the code name “Republicans,” and the intelligence committees in both the House and the Senate are dead in the water. The executive branch is controlled, in various ways, by Putin and others sympathetic to neo-fascism. The veil of neutrality that we thought (hoped?) characterized the Supreme Court has been torn to shreds. The Justice Department is run by Grand Wizard J. Beauregard Sessions. There you have it. Three branches of the government controlled by anti-democratic forces. How will we ever be able to reinstate democracy at the highest levels?
In a strange twist of history, we’re waiting for, hoping for, a sort of military coup carried out by the FBI. Sounds crazy but follow the logic. We are waiting for the results of the FBI investigations. When they‘re done, who will bring charges against democracy’s enemies, both domestic and foreign? The Republican-controlled House? The Republican-controlled Senate? The white supremacist controlled Justice Department? The broken Supreme Court? Who is left? The FBI. The NSA. The military.
Maybe. But we first must acknowledge that, at least on the federal level, democracy is dead. To revive it, we need nation-wide demonstrations. The entire country needs to come to a halt. No work. No play. No spending money. Everyone out in the streets. There should be sit-ins, marches, protests, shutdowns of highways, airports, banks. We should have one gigantic Occupy-like movement. People need to meet other people. They need to talk. They need to build solidarity. If we don’t act with the seriousness required by our current situation, January 20, 2017, will be marked as the end date for the grand experiment known as “Democracy.”by
The special election in Georgia should be a slam-dunk. That there is still a lot of nail-biting as to whether the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, will win, means that the Democrats still do not have a coherent message. They still lack a narrative of their own. We know the Republican message: tradition, religion, values, sanctity of life. That they are hypocrites or outright fascists in implementing these values is a different matter. But try and rattle off the values that Democrats stand for? I’ll help you. Here’s one. Tolerance. How has that one worked out?
Tolerance means that we need to be respectful of the rights of others. Nice sentiment. Should we tolerate ISIS? Is beheading an alternate style of expression? Of course we should not tolerate that. What about Charles Murray. Should he be allowed to present his warmed-over eugenics at the local college? What about Richard Spencer, who is clever enough to rework the spirit of Hitler’s Mein Kampf for an American audience. Should we tolerate his view?
The problem with tolerance is that we don’t know exactly where to draw the line. In the case of ISIS and beheading, that one is obvious. It might even be obvious in the case of Richard Spencer. Charles Murray might be a more difficult one. We don’t want to stifle academic freedom and the free flow of thoughts. It’s often said that the antidote to hate speech is more free speech. Present the facts and the truth will rise to the top. But I remember when Murray published his other eugenicist tract, The Bell Curve. I was taught, as a good liberal, to understand his argument so that I can speak against it. In fact, many academics spoke against it. The result? He’s still creating new versions of eugenicist theories.
Democrats believe in the free market. So Bill gave us NAFTA and the end of Glass-Steagall, effectively handing us a market with insufficient regulations. Obama gave us a slightly more regulated version of the market. During the campaign Hillary spoke about the need for more entrepreneurs. However, do we really need more titans that destroy industries under the banner of efficiency and disruption, while supposedly empowering consumers? And let’s be frank. Tr/mp has brought in “great” business minds. Though they may not know how to run a government, they do know how to extract wealth. So what were the Democrats offering instead of unregulated capitalist kleptocracy? A regulated kleptocracy?
Bottom line: the Democrats lack vision. While the Republicans are the Party of No, the Democrats are, on a good day, the Party of Maybe. In fact, we’ve always been a country of “maybe.” Maybe one day everyone will be able to vote. Maybe one day everyone will be treated equally. Maybe one day we’ll erase the legacy of racism. Maybe one day our laws will prioritize people’s rights over corporations. “Maybe” has given us what we have a today. “Maybe” doesn’t get people excited. “Maybe” lacks spine, courage, conviction. Maybe it’s time to go beyond “maybe.”