As the old phrase goes, “Gird your loins.”
Given the start to the year with politics in this country and all the strife and horrific violence around the globe, it’s easy to become cynical and rather depressed about the state of things.
I certainly understand, what with increasing military attacks and retaliation across the Mideast threatening to broaden the Israeli/Hamas conflict into a regional war between the West and some traditional foes like Iran. The Mideast has been a powder keg for decades and the escalation of terrorist activity in the region is a cause for worry for the U.S. and our allies and the rest of the world.
Alternately, the undulating political landscape in the U.S. in a critical election year is enough to keep experienced leaders, historians and citizens (even journalists) awake at night. Especially because democracy itself is under threat.
Liz Chaney’s excellent book “Oath and Honor” is a detailed read into what was manifest since former president Donald Trump and his cadre of GOP election conspiracy theorists pushed ‘The Big Lie’ to enough of the gullible true believers. They then orchestrated the violence of Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in an unprecedented attempt at a coup; an insurrection to overturn the election results and keep the loser in power.
Plenty of those sycophants would seemingly now like to convince Americans to forget the attempt to undermine our democracy and try to rewrite that dark history as a political protest that just ‘got out of hand’ ignoring the reality of how close we came to fascist authoritarian rule.
Cheney details in her book the role of GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy and current Speaker of the House Mike Johnson in trying to ignore constitutional limits on their role in simply counting and declaring the winner from the Electoral College ballots. Instead they turned to hatching a plan to disavow the will of the voters and enable battleground states to substitute a slate of phony electors for the genuine ones and change the vote results in those states. A strategy that, along with current attempts to eliminate voting by mail, extended voting periods and disenfranchising certain voters represent a vile anti-democratic scheme whose ugly head could well rise again this election season.
Revelations now unfold with the so-called “2025 Plan” by the Heritage Foundation and others if Trump were to win election. Addressed by Cheney in her book, these include replacing career government agency heads and bureaucrats with diehard loyalists and an internal attempt to undertake an extinction of our representative democracy and replace it with authoritarian rule is chilling to consider.
The elections of 2024 – local, state, and national – could face similar challenges to long-preserved democratic protections and the rule of law. Those who seek political power at any cost embrace what they often see as an existential battle of wills; especially since the majority of the electorate has rejected those partisan efforts at minority rule in the past.
Trump and his acolytes reject the basic tenet that no one is above the law as he seeks to try to run out the clock on his many felony charges and civil cases. It’s an attempt to present him as untouchable with claims of immunity from any charges for what he did in the past. This seems to fit with his unabashed, shameless narcissism that has some of his zombies even holding him up as a deity-like figure. Unbelievable.
Meanwhile, he and his followers await the start of legal arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this week on the question of whether he can be banned from Colorado ballots under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution for inciting the attempted insurrection. There is fear that if he loses the Colorado case, there could be outbreaks of violence that one reporter said might make Jan. 6 look like a Sunday school picnic.
Meanwhile, on the lighter (or should I say more delusional) side, there are reports that disgraced former Fox News talk host Tucker Carlson is apparently in Moscow, with indications he may meet with Vladimir Putin for an interview or something else. Nauseating. Putin, was recently quoted as saying he hoped it was feasible America could descend into civil war. We’ll watch with interest and wait to see if Fox actually reports on Carlson’s antics.
So that’s one veteran (read older) reporter’s take on things – an opinion, in other words (or several). Editorials are an important part of our First Amendment freedom of the press landscape. Unfortunately, especially since the dominance of broadcast and online media outlets, some of the public doesn’t always comprehend the difference between straight-up, factual news reports and an editorial opinion. More on this next time.
On a side note, I have a favor to ask of readers to support a cause I hold dear.
February is national Marfan Syndrome month. Those like me and family members afflicted by this inherited, often disabling or fatal disease would appreciate donations for Marfan research. Learn more at marfan.org. Thank you.
Editor’s note: It is thought that our 16th President Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday we celebrate this month, was also afflicted with Marfan Syndrome. Wouldn’t it be great if researchers could once and for all cure this disease?