Democracy, Meh?

With less than a week to go until the midterm elections, Americans face a stark choice. The choice is encapsulated in a NY Times/Siena College poll that revealed that 71 percent polled said that democracy was “at risk.” 

No, this isn’t a poll from a dystopian novel, in which America, in Ronald Reagan’s words transforms from “a shining city on a hill,”  into a sinkhole of darkness. 

This is America, circa 2022. And in the present, we are literally witnessing the country sliding into the sinkhole. Terrifying, right?

Not so fast. Wrap your head around this. The sinkhole is waiting with open arms, but only 7 percent of those 71 percent believe it is the most important problem facing the country.

But let’s look at another analysis from the poll which speaks volumes:  Seventy-one percent of Republicans said they would be comfortable voting for a candidate who thought that the 2020 election was stolen, as did 37 percent of independent voters (12 percent of Democrats did as well). It is worth repeating: 71 percent of Republicans are comfortable voting for an election-denying candidate!

Let’s take a moment to see what the Republicans are running on that are greater concern than democracy.

Crime, Crime, Crime. Look at all the crime in those blue cities. According to research done by Jim Kessler of the Third Way, the murder rate is 40 percent higher in red states won by the Don? Did you know that Kevin McCarthy’s home district of Bakersfield, California has the highest murder rate in the country?

The Economy and inflation. The Republican solution to inflation is to threaten to shut down the government and hold the American people hostage until concessions are made to gut Medicare and Social Security. And then of course, there is always the tried-and-failed trickle down economics, which provides more tax-cuts to the rich with the belief that if they have more money they will invest in America. So in other words: screw the elderly and those that have less.

And then we have the price of gas! So in other words, what’s more important: filling’er up or tearing’er it down (democracy)
(By the way, prices have come down significantly, and things are much worse in other countries.)

But let’s look at another analysis from the poll which speaks volumes: seventy-one percent of Republicans said they would be comfortable voting for a candidate who thought that the 2020 election was stolen, as did 37 percent of independent voters. (12 percent of Democrats did as well.) It is worth repeating: 71 percent of Republicans are comfortable voting for an election denying candidate!

In other words, democracy? Meh?

What is so mind-boggling about all this is that Republicans, despite their steadfast belief that the 2020 election was stolen and that many of their candidates have stated they will not concede if they lose, are accusing the Democrats of stealing democracy. Here’s J.D. Vance, the once vociferous anti-Trumper-turned-sycophant and carnival barker.

“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” Democrats “have decided that they can’t win re-election in 2022 unless they bring in a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here.” 

Blake Masters, the Republican Senate nominee in Arizona, warns that Democrats want to increase immigration “to change the demographics of our country.”

Republican fear-mongering at its best. Promulgation of Replacement Theory. Masters of flipping the script, calling black, white, hoping to convince voters that they are the true defenders of  democracy as they advance a white nationalist Christian agenda and a movement toward autocracy.

In their democracy, elections are only fair if they win, separation of church and state- a cornerstone of our democracy- becomes a thing of the past, civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights are eroded. What can be taught in schools and what books students can read will be monitored. In other words, the principles of American democracy, which include equal justice and opportunity for all, is threatened.

What Republicans offer is the opposite of freedom and democracy. What they offer is oppression and autocracy.

Once again, it is worth repeating: 71 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Independents are not troubled by this. 

How did we get here? The disinformation machines of Fox News, Breitbart and social media have nurtured the narrative of conspiracy theories about the Democrats for years, culminating in the absurd but dangerous QAnon cult, which promulgates the theory that Democrats are part of a secret cabal stealing children and running a sex traffic operation. The perpetrator who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s home and attacked her husband with a hammer, was deep into conspiracy theories. He eerily repeated “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” This was the same refrain chanted during the January 6th insurrection. Some Republicans like, Kari Lake, running for Governor of Arizona, actually made a sick joke about the incident; not surprisingly, Donald Trump Jr. did as well. Given the normalization and encouragement of violence, who knows what will happen during and after this election? All I can say, is that we are going to see things we have never imagined possible.

It took someone like The Don, a wannabe autocrat, with the bully pulpit of the presidency, to ratchet up the volume and break the rules and guard rails of our democracy to the point that those who are threatened by a changing and increasingly brown America, decided that it is okay to abandon democracy if it means they can remain in power. 

The stakes couldn’t be higher. So this week when you are filling your tank and angry about the price of gas and decide this is what will make you vote Republican, think for a moment: is freedom to drive cheaply worth losing the freedoms that come from living in a democracy?

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