Since I published my Q&A laying out why Brian Klaas is “very pessimistic” about US democracy being able to withstand the GOP’s increasingly open embrace of authoritarianism, I’ve heard from a number of readers who are more hopeful, including one who made a case that “Trump is a uniquely malevolent figure and I don’t think he can win again.”
I think this topic makes for a good first Reader Notice. So what say you? Do you agree with Klaas’s assessment that US democracy is in jeopardy at least until major democratic reforms become law at a federal level, or are you more hopeful about the direction things are headed?
Please share your views in this discussion thread. I may even take part in the conversation myself.
I'm 70 and very pessimistic. I vividly remember the Saturday Night Massacre in Nixon's Day. Most people of either party were shocked and horrified. The country was gripped by the Watergate hearings. And those with direct knowledge or participation appeared promptly; no one tried to run out the clock with dubious claims of executive privilege, other than Nixon. Now, 74 million.are living in an alternate reality. GOP "leaders" have fully signed on fealty to authoritarian rule. The mainstream press is asleep at the wheel and entranced with clickbait, outrage and creating misleading narratives based on false equivalence. SCOTUS will not save us. And the POTUS and Congress seem sanguine or incompetent to reverse what's happening. Awash in corporate cash, Machin and Sinema have neither the conviction or incentive to save us, Biden's agenda or voting rights.
I think the assessment was on point, but I fear that there are issues that are being missed. However, I am hopeful if more gets exposed soon to counteract these forces.
The complicit and encouraging role of religious leaders must be challenged. Bannon is convincing people and Church leaders that this is a holy war. In my neighborhood someone is flying the Christian nationalism flag. My former parish preached “vote life” nonstop. I heard more than one former parishioner state that they were so grateful for the Right to Life voter guides because then they wouldn’t have to pay attention to campaigns. Voter guides create lazy citizens and secure votes for flawed candidates. I can’t stress enough how many people I know believe Republicans to be the only moral choice that they have in casting a vote.
The FOX nightly propaganda shows are popular. The most dangerous performance usually given is by Laura Ingraham’s sidekick, Raymond Arroyo. Why? Because he is the news director of EWTN, the global Catholic empire. They mock, demean, belittle any Democratic response or “elite experts.” Aaron, please watch this guy a few times if you can stand it. He’s on three times a week and always has a “Friday Follies” to end the week of propaganda with a “fun” presentation to make the viewers feel oh so proud of their hatred. All in jest, they claim. Catholics laughing along with Raymond and Laura probably think that it all must be ok with Church leaders because there is no restraint. Cardinal Dolan laughs it up with Fox and Friends. They are validating the Republican fascist machine.
The mainstream news covers the horse race of politics, that is why the Republicans are always pondering their message to set the stage for the eternal election season. C-span is covering Trump’s 2024 rally this weekend. Why? To give him 3&1/2 years of more exposure?
We must have the voter protection laws passed soon, time is running out. Fascism must be impeded in 2022.
Unless we have voting rights reform NOW, our democracy will be gone in 2022. And though there will, I believe, be huge turnout against the GOP because of abortion restrictions being imposed upon women, with the dirty election laws they are pushing through their state legislatures, there is no way we can overcome the voter suppression they’re engineering.
Aaron, democracy is dead. It died once TFG took office. Not following norms and the out-of-the-box decisions all contributed to the downfall of democracy. We are so divided: half of us are for democracy and half of us are for facism. The only way to get past this is, yes, pass laws at the federal level to avoid this (which is impossible due to the obstructionists on the right), and hold those accountable wbo contributed to the downfall of democracy (aka ex. Trump officials). What has happened to America?
I’m not very optimistic, to be honest. With or without Trump, the Republican Party has wholly embraced the ‘Big Lie’. Now in Minnesota, we see a prominent member of the Republican Party, Rick Weible, going on a roadshow to spread election disinformation to create distrust in our elections in Minnesota. He is creating his own spreadsheets with confusing correlations to claim there are ‘missing’ votes. His claim of missing absentee ballots is not supported by the data reported on the MN state attorney generals election results. But I’m sure he will stir up supporters who will believe his smoke and mirrors. This distrust is incredibly harmful for our democracy and I’m fearful it is happening across the US.
Joe Biden got 8 million more votes, I believe, than TFG. Yet, a 100,000 (?) votes in a few counties would have turned the results the other way. Four votes in Supreme Court to hear a laughable lawsuit would have caused issues. Wrong advice, or more courage, from Mike Pence would have caused issues.
I can see why people feel the see-saw is just about to tip the other way, but I also see the grand picture, zoom in on GA's grassroots results, and finally rely on my belief that progress is inevitable.
I'm more fearful now than I was when before the election Trump was actually in the White House - because its obvious now that Trump isn't the threat on his own (and I can argue both ways on if he's losing influence / will not win again etc). The threat is far more wide spread and getting a stronger grip on one of the two major parties rather than weakening its grip. I strongly believe we need at least two strong heathy parties - not having a healthy Conservative party makes the Democratic Party weaker in the long run and vice versa. I don't think we are sounding the alarm enough - IMO priority 1 2 and 3 should have been voting rights reform and election reform/democracy protection. Now I worry we won't actually get to those things since infrastructure fights are chipping away at party cohesion on the democratic side.
Hopeful is too much for me these days (since 2017). I’m still inclined to say it’s just too hard to say what’s going to happen rather than outright pessimism, but I’m quite sure that we won’t see any serious positive change until all of non-Trumpie America rejects holy moderatism and “reasonable compromise” as it’s been dumbed down these last twenty years and embraces righteous anger and a larger message about fixing the problems around our collective standard of living that have gotten so little play for so long.
I have never been more optimistic about the future of our Republic than I am right now today!
It is a glorious time to be an American.
Cheers! And welcome to Substack!
I am a little more optimistic than he is, at least if we get through the Trump period. He's a unique figure in that I don't think many conventional politicians, regardless of ambitions, would have made the decisions that he made post election. A more rational politician would have realized around November 9th or so that all of these challenges were incredibly unlikely to succeed and thought better of trying to push an issue that would fail and waste a lot of time and effort. Most of the other Republicans went through the motions and passed the buck until it couldn't be passed further (sorry Georgia GOP leadership and VP Pence!). Not admirable or courageous stuff, but I also don't think many GOP leaders stepped up and did much that much to help Trump (even that crazy lady in Wayne County backed down), they just hoped the whole thing would go away. That's why Trump's lawyers were who they were.
This doesn't give me hope necessarily but I do think when Trump leaves the scene we will be in a better place.
I am still of the impression that, if sane-minded people can find a counter to the politics of FEAR, we can still make the progress needed to save our democracy from the trash heap of history. I'm just not sure what the counter would be, however. Obviously, FEAR sells. Scare a population to death, then get them angry at the people who are supposedly threatening them... it works every time the GOP uses it. Now, since CRT is waning, it's come back to the threat of insurmountable debt. "Your grandchildren cannot survive the debt the Democrats want to pile on their fragile shoulders!" Shades of 12 years ago, eh?
The GOP is all too willing to sacrifice the entire country and democracy itself at the altar of power. They want it, they intend to get it, they will fight to keep it - at all costs. I fear that the elections of 2022 will be a litmus test. There will be accusations of fraud - again - and only the federal restoration of voting rights will determine whether or not they succeed. In 2022, GOP state actors will have their policies and procedures in place to "legally" overturn any election whose results they don't like. Only federal action will prevent this.
Unfortunately, much hangs on the possibility of altering or abolishing the filibuster. If Manchin and Sinema cannot be strong-armed into eschewing their preference for this outdated technical ploy, they should face stiff competition in the primaries, preferably from people who can win in their respective states.
If, if, if. So much hangs on so many variables, it's hard to maintain optimism. I've been accused of being naively optimistic, but I was right about Biden, even back in 2016. I am hoping for the best possible outcome in 2022 but, absent federal change, I am worried.