Will we save our democracy or will we let it die?

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Our president, vice president, justices of the Supreme Court and all members of Congress must be sworn in before taking office. In doing so, these leaders swear to support our democracy and respect the Constitution. I wonder, now that ex-President Trump and his supporters have chosen to reject our democracy, if they feel guilty about it. Do any of these people really prefer an autocratic / dictatorial government with Trump, or others like him, at the helm to free democracy?

Let’s take a realistic look at what life would be like under a dictator. We can use Trump’s behavior as president as a guide for this type of leadership.

While in power, Trump had restrictions placed on his actions by our laws and the Constitution. If he or another like-minded leader ruled a dictatorship, there would be no such restrictions.

Since we live in the midst of a terrible pandemic, it’s important to remember how former President Trump handled this challenge. In early 2020, when we first learned of the existence of COVID-19, he tried to shed light on the warnings given to him, regardless of medical or scientific recommendations. Trump has not encouraged physical distancing or the wearing of masks. Indeed, he considered those who wore masks to be weak and fearful. He even suggested using alternative “treatments”, such as ingesting cleansing fluids, rather than using scientific remedies. These solutions had only adverse effects, as the virus mounted its fury causing more suffering and loss of life. We will never know how many lives could have been saved had there been an early focus on physical distancing, wearing masks and using approved drugs. We may never know why Trump was so insistent on not following scientific and medical suggestions.

Former President Trump’s negative attitudes extended to those he did not favor – immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews and Latinos. His racist actions were somewhat restrained by law, but as a dictator he and others like him could restrict the lives of these people and discriminate against them without restraint. As it stands, we have witnessed Trump’s draconian “zero tolerance” policy that has been used to separate children from their immigrant parents. What a cruel method to discourage immigration!

Trump wanted to isolate our nation in order to make it the “stronghold” of the world, in the same way he viewed Russia and North Korea. If he or others like him were authoritarian leaders, there would be complete control over television, the press, all media, schools, libraries, as well as censorship over what is taught and read … or unread. Any opposition would be stifled and severely punished. This mindset was fully displayed at Trump’s rallies and through his worshipful support of despots.

Trump’s decisions to dissociate our nation from our allies was an example of his isolationist “stronghold” view. The end of US involvement in the Iran nuclear deal has left our nation less secure. We need our allies, but his disdain for alliances has left us without their advantage. Our allies have also offered us cooperative assistance in dealing with environmental issues and the effects of global warming. Trump didn’t care about environmental crises. He even tried to instigate a revival of the coal industry, one of the former big polluters of our country. In addition, the oil companies wanted to use our open lands and take over Native American reserves. Trump would have allowed this without our current restrictions and strong protests. Our beautiful natural lands could have been further plundered under his authoritarian rule.

An autocratic government would ignore the value of public use and public needs. The general public would not be taken into account in the decision-making process of a dictatorship. Health services, financial assistance for the poor, feeding the hungry, housing for the homeless and public education would no longer be offered. I can’t imagine what lies and what propaganda Trump would assert if he, or others like him, had full control of the press, media, and public information dissemination.

Free and fair elections are a basic principle of democracy that would be eliminated in a dictatorship. If a vote were to take place, the opposition votes would not be accepted. Freedom of speech, a free press, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of religion would no longer exist. Trump’s policing policy would be used more, that brutality is a good way to control crime, political unrest, and violence … legal or not. Indeed, it promotes the use of violence to control violence. What a perversion of justice!

Justice and our courts would be under the control of a dictator. As it stands, Trump has appointed an unprecedented number of Republican federal judges and three Supreme Court justices in the hope of ensuring that even under current laws, his nefarious activities and unconstitutional behavior would be judged in his favor. We are already feeling the effect of political influence on the Supreme Court in some of their recent decisions. His plan was to hijack justice to weaken our democracy. He even used violence for his purposes on January 6.e.

Right now here in the United States there is a lot of talk about policing and our justice systems. Discussions of this nature would not exist in a dictatorship. We are sometimes guilty of not honoring our own democracy or of not practicing equality before the law, which is constitutionally mandated. We are criticized for having two sets of laws, one for whites and the rich and the other for non-whites and the poor.

While we cannot deny this criticism, under our legal system we can and must change this practice. This would not happen in a dictatorship. White supremacists, tyrants and those who seek scapegoats in miscarriage of justice thrive in a dictatorship. Our Constitution requires us to approach everything we do with truth. In a dictatorship, the truth is a threat to its survival. Trump’s many lies have been identified and documented. His lies allow him to do a lot to destroy our democracy.

To the Trumpers: is a dictatorship really what you want for the future of our country? I hope not! Let us wake up our true Republicans and our sleeping Democrats to these frightening threats to our democracy. Let us all fight to save our freedoms. Let us bombard our lawmakers with emails, phone calls, our attendance at town halls and written letters, making them aware of our pressing concerns.

Let us all take an oath to save our democracy. Isn’t it worth our effort?


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