Post #275: Saving Democracy

Friends call it “impotent rage.” I share it. How is it possible that the president of a democratic country can get away with announcing, well in advance of an election, that he will not accept defeat at the polls, will not promise a “peaceful transfer of power,” and will throw the election to the Supreme Court, which he has stacked with supporters? We learn from early childhood that our country is held together by common acceptance of certain norms and rules, among them that elections follow a constitutional process to determine winners and losers, who agree to abide by the results and a nonpartisan decision if the results are challenged. Never could we have imagined that this and other foundations of a democracy could be so easily undermined by a leader with dictatorial ambitions.

Let’s be clear: Trump’s aim is to make November 3 irrelevant. He knows he is going to lose the popular and electoral college vote, and so he has declared the results invalid beforehand. Discussion of national issues is sidelined; his continued rule is all that matters. That’s exactly how dictators behave. Trump seems to have identified the Achilles heel of our democracy: We don’t have an agreed-upon way to respond, forcefully and convincingly, to such open defiance of the rules—no court that will condemn it, no military that will intervene, no bipartisan panel that will demand his resignation.

So I ask: Where is the outrage? Democracy matters, and Donald Trump has openly dismissed it. Why is he not the object of massive demonstrations outside the White House and in every city right now? Why does the media treat his treacherous defiance of the rules and criminal behavior as newsworthy—and nothing more? Folks, we are witnessing the theft of an election in broad daylight, engineered by Republican flunkies in state legislatures, right-wing election “monitors,” Trump-appointed judges, soldiers and police under control of the attorney general, and Trump loyalists in the electoral college (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/). Who is going to stop them?

The responses I’ve seen and heard so far are hardly encouraging: talking heads worrying, Democratic senators criticizing, former national security officials writing open letters, newspapers publishing editorials. Where’s the action plan? How much more threatening does Trump have to be? The only path that makes sense to me is mass resistance. “Mass resistance to coups wins by using walk-outs and strikes, refusing orders and shutting down civil society until the rightful democratically-elected leader is installed. For mass movements to succeed against coups, they should refuse to do violence to the other side” (https://wagingnonviolence.org/2020/09/10-things-you-need-to-know-to-stop-a-coup/). Even then, why wait for a coup to happen when it is already underway?

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4 Comments

  1. I think (which means :”I could b wrong”) mass demonstrations would not be effective right now. That we are still having BLM demonstrations (justifiably), means that additional mass demonstrations would seem to a lot of people just more of the same. I do think that if Trump loses the vote and resists yielding the power then we must demonstrate in huge numbers. Meanwhile we do have to use every other legal means of defeating Trump. Money to Democratic campaigns is an obvious and necessary one. A recent article in the New Yorker about Joe McCarthy’ s career and downfall points to the obvious similarities between the him and Trump, their lies, their unconcern with the pain they have inflicted on other people, their laziness, neither bothering to present a consistent narrative. McCarthy’s downfall occurred in the Army/McCarthy hearing. Joseph Welch let McCarthy rant so that he was alienating listeners and Welch could spear him with the question that we all remember, “Have you no decency, Sir?” Can we somehow keep the focus on Trump being Trump,, contradicting himself, attacking veterans living and dead, dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic, refusing to promise a peaceful transfer of power.? We have to get out the vote. I have signed up with votefwd.org to send letters to potential Democratic voters in swing states, reminding them to vote. For the sake of my granddaughter and for all our children, we have to win this one

  2. MEL, Yes, it’s true. Many of us are afflicted with a sort of spiritual malaise. After years of exposure to constant and escalating rants by Trump—and his helpers—a certain fatigue sets in. No, not so severe as to cause surrender, but certainly enough to rule out serious thoughts of “massive demonstrations.”
    However, there is a possible elixir arriving on Nov. 3, the purgative needed to cleanse the political bowels of this nation. I only hope it’s a strong and effective dose. —GLEN.

  3. Hi Mel,

    I have been thinking about this blog all day….

    I suspect that Trump wants to incite violence and will use it to advance his law and order theme. From there the path is absolutely dark….

  4. Mel, Right on! Exactly well done. There has got to be a reaction. All the best, Pete

    On Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 4:24 AM In the Human Interest – Mel Gurtov wrote:

    > Mel Gurtov posted: “Friends call it “impotent rage.” I share it. How is it > possible that the president of a democratic country can get away with > announcing, well in advance of an election, that he will not accept defeat > at the polls, will not promise a “peaceful transfer o” >

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