Some trends last longer than others.
For example, parachute pants were an instant joke and truly popular for about a week. Celebrity-owned restaurants were hot for a few years, and then we moved on.
In contrast, classic rock had an incredible run. Whole generations grooved to the same 300 songs, until hip-hop and other genres finally vanquished the sound.
However, let me point out that Led Zeppelin still rules.
In any case, the list of fads and wacky trends that have run their course has a new entry. And that dying fad is democracy.
Yes, self-rule by the people is officially on the way out, and when it goes, it will be like the last few hundred years in America never happened.
You see, for the first time, the United States has been added to a list of “backsliding democracies.” This categorization comes from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, a Swedish political organization, which says that “the United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale.”
OK, some tree-huggers in Stockholm don’t like the way we run our elections, so they added us to their list of failing nations. Who are they to judge?
Well, it seems that they are not the only ones concerned about America’s flirtations with fascism. Recently, a group of university professors and scholars called for increased federal voting protections, warning that U.S. democracy is “now at risk“ because of “the wave of recent GOP-led legislative proposals across the country seeking to implement sweeping voting overhauls.” The scholars say they have “watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm.”
And they’re not the only ones.
Hundreds of historians, journalists and lawmakers have issued disturbing warnings that “democracy is under genuine assault in the United States,” and that “American democracy is facing the most dangerous threats from within since the time of the Civil War.”
But as it turns out, some Americans are perfectly happy with those easy answers. As we all know, “Republican lawmakers have systematically downplayed or dismissed the dangers, with some breezing over the attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful protest, and many saying the state voting law changes are to restore ‘integrity’ to the process.”
Yes, conservatives have denied that they are shiving democracy in the back, while simultaneously insisting that the real peril comes from liberals (i.e., the woke mob). As a result, confusion and misinformation reign, and “delusion about the danger prevails in both parties.”
Of course, progressives are sounding the alarm, but moderate Democrats find the idea so disturbing, so improbable in the land of the free, that they refuse to believe that it is even possible. These centrists have chosen not to believe progressives—members of their own party who share their core beliefs—when they say democracy is in jeopardy. Instead, those moderates trust Republicans, who are practically shouting that, given the chance, they will overturn any election results they damn well please.
It’s like refusing to listen to your wife when she tells you that the house is on fire, because an arsonist strapped to a flamethrower is standing in your backyard and saying there’s nothing to worry about.
Consider that just 35 percent of Democrats believe that American democracy faces a “major threat.” But that percentage “is twice as large for Republicans—whose belief in a major threat is the threat.” This is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, it’s difficult to see what conservatives are so worried about. Almost half of Republicans “are now saying the quiet part out loud: They’d prefer to ditch this whole democracy thing.” Hey, these are the people who created “PowerPoint slides laying out options to overthrow democracy.” So it’s not exactly a top priority to preserve the whole concept of one person, one vote.
But what do Republicans envision for America’s future? What do they want our country to resemble when they kick away the crumbled carcass of democracy? Apparently, they want us to become a second-rate dictatorship.
The truth is that conservatives “who claim to love America, which once billed itself as the leader of the world, are taking their lead from minor authoritarian countries—the economy of Russia is comparable to that of Texas, while Hungary’s population is comparable to Michigan’s.”
It is indeed strange that progressives want to be more like Scandinavia, arguably the most prosperous and peaceful region in the world, while conservatives want to be more like tiny Eastern European fiefdoms that provoke people to flee for their lives.
Republicans have become “dangerous radicals seeking to bring us to our knees by attacking the grand philosophy that made this nation great…replacing it with the stunted beliefs of petty tyrants.”
And speaking of petty tyrants, we have the conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has hinted—very very strongly hinted—that a constitutionally protected right, upheld for over half a century, stands no chance against zealots who don’t care what the vast majority of Americans want.
So maybe we shouldn’t be too sad about the death of democracy. Because a lot of Americans won’t even miss it.
Featured image by simonrumi/CC PDM 1.0