A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Our republic has flirted with disaster several times in the past. Most noticeably during the civil war and more recently with the 2000 and 2004 election of George W. Bush. It skirted a Coup d'état in the 1930s when Retired Marine General Smedly Butler exposed a businessman plot desiring a military style overthrow of the newly elected Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.
Make no mistake, the evil forces against democracy have won for now. They may have very well won forever. The balance of power does not rest in the traditional opposition party but in the flaky capricious new ruling party itself. What remains to be seen is if there are any actual courageous democratic-process-loving Republicans remaining in the US Congress.
Courage and true patriotism are a rarity since the "burn the house down" fake-grassroot-populism Tea Party, financed and spearheaded by the Kansas based Koch Brothers, took charge of the congress in the 2010 midterm election. What they lacked in sheer numbers they made up in crass intimidation. Disguised in the draping of red, white, and blue they set out to dismantle federalism with no less vigor than their 1860 counterpart at Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
Many in opposition seem determined to resist the incoming Trump administration and for good reason. Trump is in process of assembling what may become the most unscrupulous administration since at least the Harding administration. The best that can be hoped for is that we will see only widespread pillaging of the government through private contracts, deregulation, and a fire sale of public lands. Without an effective opposition, the results of the Trump era could be much worse.
The needed winning strategy will be to turn out in the 2018 midterms in such force as to return the House and the Senate back to the Democrats. It will take much effort as the house races will still be commanded by gerrymandering of congressional districts until at least 2022. In the Senate, the Democrats have to defend 23 Democractic and 2 caucusing Independent seats and the Republicans only 8, which is the opposite of 2016. Protests, marches, and occupies, while making resisters feel good about themselves, will only solidify and cause the always tenuous coalition that doesn't have an overt adversary to rally around Trump.
Granted the Democrats are now fighting between the FDR progressive wing and the Clinton neoliberal wing. But make no mistake the worst neoliberal administration is better than the best Trump/Koch administration when it comes to democratic ideals, free speech, honesty, and civil liberties. And without those, the rest is elusive.
Time is of the essence. Republicans have spent the last 20 years perfecting previously tried methods of pilfering the vote. Through various voter suppression methods, mechanical tabulation chicanery, and devious legislation to avoid recounts and customary auditing, the Republicans have performed a botched circumcision on American Democracy.
President Obama recently lamented that the Democrats lost because the voters didn't turn out. That's a statement quite obvious but not at all useful like "If pigs had wings, they would fly." I find it rich that he chooses to blame the electorate when the real culprit, voter suppression, reached new heights in the open during his tenure, with little opposition from his Justice Department or his bully pulpit. His two campaigns did produce high turnout. In response, Republicans upped their voter suppression efforts to 5 or 6 percent of the vote cast. (This difference is estimated from the discrepancies in the vote count and the exit polls in affected states).
We can spend this time and effort violently or non violently and getting cracked in the head with undetermined results -- or we can spend it rocking the vote successfully with guaranteed results. However be prepared to have to increase turnout by a 10-15% vote margin for you can bet the Trump administration and Republicans will up their vote-stealing techniques during his time in office.
The 2016 election will undoubtedly be remembered for many things, but for many as the day we realized we had lost our democratic republic. It can be won back, but it must be done soon.
About the Author
Robert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.
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The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
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