Why do we care? When Communism rose to power behind Vladimir Lenin in 1917, there was a power vacuum at the heart of Russia. No one knew whether to restore the monarchy or move to something new and untried. Enter Lenin, then Stalin and 70 years of oppressive governance.
When Adolf Hitler came on the scene in Germany in 1933, he was just a crazy ex convict who would fall on his face. His vision of German supremacy and his blaming Jews for all national and international problems? He’s a joke. People will realize what he is and turn him off.
The problem with national disintegration and the rise of totalitarian leaders is that there is no ominous sounding of horns in minor key. There is no rhythmic drumbeat like that which rumbles over funeral processions. There may be a few voices warning of what may be coming, but they are quickly dismissed as alarmist, paranoiac, expressed by people who don’t have confidence in the ‘system.’
Authoritarian government doesn’t usually arrive behind tanks at the border, an enemy army poised ready to invade. It germinates on the inside, fed by fear, by frustration, by lies, by the benign belief that anything would be better than the status quo. It feeds on feelings of inferiority, of being left behind, and, of course, on the belief that people of color are getting a free ride that is depriving the establishment of its rightful place.
In creating a website devoted to saving democracy, we believe democracy is endangered. We have seen in the past where Republicans and Democrats, red states and blue states, and people of varying religious beliefs supported a government that displayed tolerance, worked to attain compromise, and generally governed with sensitivity to what the country most needed. Not always. There were serious blunders. Nevertheless, there was a core of decency and civic responsibility that prevented the country from being taken over by any one narrow ideology.
We do not believe that is the case now. To be specific. The Supreme Court, which is supposed to be politically neutral, is being filled with judges who adhere to one political party’s ideology. The Senate, designed to be the chief check and balance on the president, has become a slave to the White House. The Senate Majority Leader refuses to bring legislation to the floor unless he has a guarantee that the president will sign it, a total abdication of constitutional power. For the second time this century, the president is elected with a minority of the popular vote and thus does not represent the majority of the country. And one party, the Republican Party, is backed by UK resident Rupert Murdock, who makes sure Fox News spends the majority of its time as the public relations department of the party.
And the Democratic Party? Out of touch? A strong balance in the struggle of political ideologies? It should be. But for people discouraged with, or put off by, the current political scene, it doesn’t present much hope, and it doesn’t seem to know how to counterbalance the extremes of the Republican Party.
If you care, we need to find ways to save our democracy. Your ideas are welcome.