Daily Archives: January 4, 2018

“We’re rushing toward the breaking point” ~ E.J. Dionne

Dionne in 2008

Here are just a few of the articles I’ve read in the last 24 hours about the threats to our democratic government which is slowly eroding and descending toward totalitarianism.

In “We’re rushing toward the breaking point” the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, one of the most honest and trusted journalists in Washington, points to a problem with media coverage of Trump,

There has been an inclination over the past year in both politics and journalism to separate Trump’s tweets and other outbursts from the realities of governing. … But we are past the time when we can believe any of this. Trump is, without question, doing enormous damage to the United States’ standing in the world, and his strategy for political survival is rooted in a willingness to destroy our institutions. … we must face the fact that Trump is accelerating us toward the breaking point.

Dionne’s main point is that the actions Trump is taking to hold on to power at any cost are just as threatening to democratic government as is his general unfitness for the position he holds, his tweets, his mania, his childishness, etc. We can hope that special counsel Robert S. Mueller saves us,

Yet doing so means continuing to absorb Trump’s blows to our system and to our country’s influence around the globe. It also requires great faith in our capacity for restoration despite the readiness of the president’s allies to place his survival above the health of our polity.

As Dionne concludes,

The United States does have extraordinary gifts for self-correction. But we must face the fact that Trump is accelerating us toward the breaking point. No matter how confident we are in our resilience, we should not imagine otherwise. Not even Mueller has a button on his desk he can press to get us out of this without scars.

Here are a few other fine pieces:

In “Donald Trump’s Year of Living Dangerously: It’s worse than you think” Politico’s Susan B. Glasser details how Trumps ignorance, and his indifference to that ignorance, has led diplomats to call him: “insane,” “catastrophic,” “terrifying,” “incompetent” and “dangerous.”

Evan Osnos’s article in the New Yorker reveals how Trump cites a Chinese think tank which views the Trump administration as comprised of hostile “cliques,” with the most powerful being the “Trump family clan.” The further describe it using the term “jiatianxia,” which means “to treat the state as your possession.”

As the Brookings Institution Benjamin Wittes wrote recently, in a particularly chilling yet still hopeful read that

The president of the United States— and as —remains the principal threat in the world to the national security of the United States. His aspirations are as profoundly undemocratic and hostile to the institutions of democratic governance as they have ever been. He announces as much in interview after interview, in tweet after tweet. The president has not changed, and he will not change. Whether he has grown or will grow is not even an interesting question.

Consider that Trump has already this year called on the Justice Department to “finally act” against Huma Abedin and James B. Comey. Needless to say, prosecuting political enemies is what authoritarians do.

Jonathan Chaidt’s “2018 Will Be a Fight to Save Democracy,” points to Trump’s
recent interview with The New York Times in which he spoke admiringly of autocratic tactics like using law enforcement for political ends. “The president,” as Chait points out, “explained his belief that the Department of Justice on principle ought to cover up crimes by the president and his administration.” Trump clearly believes that he is above the law.

I also encourage you to purchase a new book that will be published in a few week titled, “How Democracies Die,” written by two Harvard political scientists. The book’s promotional material states, “a bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world — and a road map for rescuing our own.”

I could go on and on but I caution all my readers, especially young ones, to carefully monitor this situation. It is easy not to care if African Americans or Native Americans are denied the rule of law. But an autocratic state threatens all of us eventually, even its privileged children.