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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Changing the shadows

The recent US Midterm elections brought a whole bunch of good news and really good news, but that doesn’t change the fact that the American republic is still in grave danger and facing unprecedented threats to its democracy and the rule of law. It’s imperative that we don’t give up the fight now, but, instead, redouble our efforts to beat change the shadows determined to stay forever.

In the time since the US Midterm elections, I’ve talked about some of the good and great things the elections delivered. But in that same time, we’ve seen the breadth and depth of the threat to American democracy.

Consider, for example, the current occupant of the White House’s many tantrums. There was his bizarre, unhinged behaviour at his press conference after the elections in which he attacked journalists. A journalist’s job is to find out the truth, and sometimes that means asking tough questions that may make politicians squirm. Their job is NEVER to fawn over politicians and make them feel good. That’s a job for PR flacks, not journalists.

The current occupant, who continues to attack journalists as “the enemy of the people”, is angry because real journalists aren’t like his cheerleaders and sycophants on Fox “News”. He’s also pissing on the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press—there’s no asterisk on that, and if the current occupant or his frothing fans don’t like that, too bad. They need to grow up and get over it—which is, obviously, exactly what the Right said to mainstream Americans who objected to Fox’s treatment of President Obama. The current regime, its enablers and fervent fans need to follow their own instructions to mainstream Americans not so long ago.

This matters because undermining the free press is a pathway to authoritarianism. ALL dictators prevent a free press—Putin has had journalists murdered, for example. It’s not much of a leap from the current occupant of the White House calling journalists “the enemy of the people” and then imprisoning them.

Those who say “he can’t do that” haven’t been paying attention to what he tries to do, and, far more importantly, the number of extremist radicals his regime and his people in Congress have installed on federal courts—including, of course, the Supreme Court. It’s only a matter of time before radical judges rule to approve radical measures from the radical Rightwing party and its leader in the White House. Anything becomes possible when that day arrives.

This includes suppressing democracy itself. The Republican Governor-elect in Georgia, for example, flat out stole that election—shamelessly, brazenly, and in plain sight. Worse, he’ll get away with it. Were it not for Republicans rigging elections, Democrats would have cleaned Republicans’ clocks all across the country. With a compliant judiciary, they will continue to get away with that.

And, of course, whatever the current occupant of the White House was up to in installing as Acting Attorney General a Republican Party hack with strong personal loyalty to the current occupant, the reality is that no matter what the Mueller investigation finds, the current occupant will never face justice for any of his crimes—at least, not in the next two years.

Add all that up, and it means they’re manoeuvring to steal the 2020 US elections. Their extremist measures, their voter suppression efforts, and other vote-rigging schemes to help Republicans, will be upheld by radical Rightwing judges. And without a free press to expose it all, would anyone even know it was happening?

That’s the “if these shadows remain unchanged” scenario. The good news is that there’s still time to save America.

First and foremost, there’s a window of opportunity for Democrats in the US House to expose the crimes of the current regime, and for the free press to report it so that everyone can see the evidence.

If that succeeds, then the next step—winning elections in 2020 with massive margins—becomes much more likely. Because Republicans have rigged the system in their favour, it will take massive Democratic electoral majorities—much bigger than we saw this year—to defeat them. The current occupant must be defeated by such a landslide that he has cannot refuse to leave the White House, as he would with a narrow loss, no doubt Tweeting how his loss was “very unfair”.

Rampant democracy, then, can save America. Still. We can make sure the shadows are changed, and the US republic survives. It’s entirely up to us, not them or those shadows.

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