That Precipice between Democracy and Dictatorship by Thomas Martin Saturday

Trying to piece together the events of this past week I’ve been unable to square them with that broad ideal of the nation’s founding, which declared to the world that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It all began with the accession to power of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. It only takes someone to stop and think for a moment what the nation was like on that day, and to compare it to where we are now. I’m not speaking of party politics in the traditional sense at all. Nor am I assaulting the average Trump supporter by trying to make them out as some sort of imbecile or evil person; if that applies to you that will have been earned by your actions and beliefs, inconsistent with that ideal spoken of in the old Declaration of 1776.

This week Trump yet again continued to insult our Allies, and further distanced the United States from the rest of the world’s great democracies. It was as if to highlight where we have been contrasted with where we are going. He met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore saying the North Korean people loved the worst dictator the world has ever known; that Kim is a man to be admired for the “rough, very rough way” he rules North Korea. North Korea is a land with enormous gulags containing hundreds of thousands of people who may have committed some small offense inadvertently, when they failed to jump to the tune of tyranny quickly or enthusiastically enough.

At the same moment domestically, a great force of law enforcement officers in ICE have now separated thousands of immigrant parents from their children; some barely a year old. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions told the nation it was to discourage further illegal immigration to the United States. The children now occupy dog kennel- like cages. Their mothers occupy some of our Federal prisons or facilities not so very different from their children. These are brown skinned people and not white Anglo-Saxon Caucasians. Few if any of these people get the legal representation and hearing in any depth, which they are entitled to under the current immigration laws of the United States.

Democratic institutions such as our Constitution, the courts, the press, and Department of Justice, containing the FBI, have been increasingly warped and attacked to fit with a President’s wishes and needs, a man who knows little about democracy and our republican form of government. Instead, he wants to decide what is lawful and what is not. He expects his orders to be quickly carried out. It is a clear authoritarian, autocratic style of leadership totally repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

It is a litany of the violation of human rights; death by a thousand cuts to democracy that we are presently undergoing. It is the acceptance of racial bigotry and hatred on a huge scale. That is where you personally come into this. Where you stand now will determine if the United States of America will continue at all; whether or not the great experiment in self-government launched by our founders will continue in any form.

How much as an American patriot do you personally really and truly support our Constitution? How you feel about democracy now will speak louder than anything else about your partisan membership. Even Republican Senator Bob Corker has said that “the place where the Republican Party has been and where it is now is really quite divergent.” It was a euphemistic way of saying that we are heading away from democracy and a republican form of government straight to a government that attacks our freedom and free way of life; our ability to make choices for ourselves all respecting the rule of law and our Constitution.

America at this moment is on a precipice between democracy and dictatorship. It is not hyperbole. The threat of our becoming something very dark, evil and cruel is here. Looking down into that dark canyon provided by Trump and his sycophantic supporters there is no room for what went formerly here. Watch your step. Don’t join those peering with enthusiasm at the abyss and gladly advancing it.

What can I do you say? You can do plenty. First, the obvious: make sure your voter registration is valid in the week or two prior to the November mid-term elections. If not, re-register no matter what it costs you in terms of money, time, and attention.

Second, on that first Tuesday of November VOTE! Vote for those who are trying to change the direction we are going. Right now that would be Democrats. Even this is not a partisan exercise. History is going to note the almost total failure of the GOP Congress to stand up to Trump and insist he behave like someone who believes in our form of government. That history may be written by historians outside the United States if we fail. Think on what that implies. Don’t be intimidated by election judges or poll workers who want to tell you that the polls have closed, or that you cannot at least submit a provisional ballot should there be a mix up in your registration and ID (yes you will need a proper State or Federal ID) to permit you to vote in those states dominated by the GOP, or in some cases elsewhere). Check with your county or local town registrar when you check on your voter registration being OK.

Third, remain fully involved. Get woke! Remain woke! Contact your representatives and let them know how worried you are about the continuation of our democracy. Insist to them that they stand up for everything Donald Trump despises and refuses to recognize. Keep the pressure on. Make a call or write a letter more than once prior to November. Join a non-violent protest group and get into the streets non-violently more than once.

Every historian I know, and that is most all of them, will tell you without exaggeration, that this is the most important election in our entire history. Trump must be stopped and some check on his power must be initiated or we will all fall into that dark precipice of tyranny. It is just so hard to believe for any of us. The notion that we, the American people, the United States of America, can go into the dark side as a popular movie series would term it yet astounds us. How did we get here? Why? That can be dissected when we have stopped the most serious infection in the American body politic we have ever faced.

Now for those of you horrified that I am telling you to vote for Democrats this November up and down the ballot: listen to me please. The old GOP, the party of Lincoln and the modern representative of conservatism is dead. It’s a plain fact. We can’t restore that party if you vote for Republicans this fall. We must issue the strongest rebuke to what the party has become led by Trump, who fancies himself a dictator, and who is distinctly more comfortable with them as opposed to democrats (small d) who support democracy in our world.

Whatever happens this November we must continue the fight past that election. Those of you who are honest good old conservatives can, should the situation warrant it, support some sort of new Republican Party in 2020, if indeed there will be a free, fair, and democratic election that year. That’s what this is all about. Americans have made the greatest mistake electorally we have ever made. Can we redress the error, and return ourselves, both Democrat and Republican alike, to the nation we love so passionately?

My mother and father knew, with a clarity that would astound you, that they fought a great world tyranny in World War II. Nazi Germany abandoned democracy in 1932, while our government led by Franklin Roosevelt embraced it. It was America against the dictator powers and we won! My parents knew how fragile our Union and democracy are and they stood for what was right over what was evil and wrong. My father was a Captain in the United States Army and served in Europe at that time. My mother was a Navy Chief Petty Officer, a WAVE who sent an old sea dog to sea, and took on something closer to home to help us uphold democratic free government.

I don’t know how the hell Donald Trump and those around him became so dangerous. We could argue about it for ages. I’d wish that we were any place but here this year. I embrace so many conservative friends and family who hold different views. I am not out for our side to prove we are right and your side in a partisan sense is wrong. What we are contending for here is something far beyond distinctions of party or faction or tribe. If you love democracy you’re with us. If you don’t care or do not stand with us you are against us. On that basis the battle is joined. May God protect the right.

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