I’m reminded by the silence of mainstream Republicans of a quote often attributed to Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
I hesitate to use the word “mainstream” because it appears that the Republican Party is now the party of Trump and that the values (or lack of them) of Donald Trump have been adopted by the Republican mainstream. The rest of us should be frightened.
Thom Hartmann, the radio host and newsletter writer I admire for his articulate coverage of the decline of American democracy under the spell of Donald Trump, wrote a particularly cogent newsletter this Monday.
In the headline, Hartmann asks, “Is the Anti-Democracy Movement Reaching a Tipping Point in the US and Around the World?”
In it he notes: “Ukraine and Taiwan represent possible tipping points for democracy internationally, while Republicans passing laws that allow politicians to ignore the results of elections… could be a tipping point here.”
Hartmann notes that “virtually the entire Republican Party has rejected supporting democracy at home and supporting democratic governments abroad.”
This is no small matter. It is becoming clear that our Constitution is being used against us, and I see no way to avoid the death spiral of democratic rule in America.
Yes, the filibuster, which allows a minority of Senators to frustrate the majority, could be eliminated by a majority vote of Senators, because it is a Senate rule, not embedded in the Constitution. To their shame, two Democratic Senators prevented that from happening so that a voting rights bill they claim to support could pass without any Republican votes.
But even if the filibuster were eliminated, it does not change the structural issue built into the Constitution which gives the same vote in the Senate to Wyoming with fewer than 600,000 residents as it gives to California with over 39 million residents. And the District of Columbia, which has more residents than Wyoming, has not one vote in the Senate (or in the House of Representatives).
Because our electoral system is under so much discussion since the former president started claiming his election was stolen through massive fraud — the Big Lie, as we call it — we are becoming more and more aware of how fragile our democratic republic is, and I’m not hopeful that there will be a happy ending, even if we see Trump and his cronies go to jail, as they should, for the many crimes that are coming to light thanks to the diligent work of the Jan. 6th committee and multiple prosecutors in New York and now Georgia.
My Republican mother and father, for whom integrity, civility and respect for the law were paramount (and instilled in us children), would be astounded at how our country is being brought down by the opposite traits of a single man who boasted that he could murder someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote.
The trendlines are all going in the wrong direction. Income inequality is on the rise, with the 10 richest billionaires doubling their wealth during the pandemic, while the government had to print money just to keep the bottom 99% above water. Non-partisan election officials are being terrorized by death threats and their jobs taken over by right-wing partisans. Legislatures are passing laws restricting ballot access and preparing to declare fraud if they don’t like the next presidential vote and send their own slate to the Electoral College. Tucker Carlson is convincing his viewers that we should support Russia instead of Ukraine. Where does this madness end?
As a wealthy white American, I have little to lose as long as I keep quiet in Trump’s new America, but it’s not an America I wish to live in.