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Democracy on Life Support

It appears that our democracy may not be the best system there is. It does not seem to be working. It is pretty easy to see that America is a little off, a sick country. Sure, Donald Trump is a big time grifter whose real estate empire is built on Russian crime money, a thief who doesn’t pay his taxes, a liar who exploits our bankruptcy laws, an accused rapist and serial sexual assaulter, a racist and a xenophobe who promotes conspiracy theories, but every country has people like that. The problem is not only that we enabled him to succeed, but that we actually elected him to the most powerful office in the world. And now that he is engaged in a slow-motion coup, refusing to apply sanctions on Russia approved by Congress, attacking the courts, the press and the department of justice, the lackeys that elected him grovel at his feet and sing his praises.

For a long time, Americans have engaged in a form of willful ignorance. It is woven into the ludicrous notion held by three quarters of Republican males that white men are victims in America. You can hear it operating in the treatment of women in the me-too stories and in Trump talking about how he can do whatever he wants and women will like it. As Ta-Nehisi Coates and others have argued, the US was founded on idealism with a giant blind spot about race that we still have not come to terms with. That blindness can be heard in phrases like: All Lives Matter. People who utter that are blind to the mistreatment of black males by the police and the justice system.

That blindness is buried in the shock Americans feel when we are attacked by terrorists. “Why do they hate us?” Americans ask ignoring our endless wars, the presence of our troops overseas, our occupation of Afghanistan. (Why are we there?). How many countries do we have special ops in? Egypt, Oman, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Bahrain…How many drone strikes are occurring each day?

What kind of country ignores bi-weekly school shootings? Our response to them is to buy more guns. Is it really surprising that the suicide rate among white males has gone up? And what is the addiction to opioids but a quest to numb the pain? This is, after all, the same country that legalized torture and gave our government the right to detain people indefinitely without charging them or putting them on trial. Guantanamo is a black spot on the soul of our country.

From this angle, it was the election of Obama that was the fluke, the aberration. Trump is a better representative of who we are. It shouldn’t be a surprise when the Republican Party continues to support him. There’s a deep state all right; it’s the one run by the Koch brothers, and their friends. And it turns out that the internet, instead of being an open source for information, is a great vehicle for propaganda. It turns out we’d rather believe what we want to hear than what’s true.

Part of the impulse to elect Trump was, as Susan Sarandon said, to blow things up. She may have had her finger on the button. Now Trump has his finger on the button and hey, what do we have nuclear weapons for? Meanwhile, Trump and the Republican Party have made it clear that democracy no longer works. Maybe millennials will lead us to the promised land.

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