Ye Olde Blogge has been worried about where our democracy is going. We’ve speculated about how to bridge the gap with the other side. We’ve wondered whether it would be better to make like the Beatles and split or be the Rolling Stones and stay together turning out the occasional hit and coasting on our past glory. We’ve even done the math — okay, read about other people doing the math — and in our case when we add two and two together we get way past the tipping point.
Vox has an article reviewing the findings in political research about the effects of polarization as deep and wide as what we’re experiencing today. Our prospects are bleak to say the least. “Democracies have a hard time depolarizing once they’ve reached this level,” Jennifer McCoy a political scientist at Georgia State University who has studied polarized democracies and their fates.
Democracies have a hard time depolarizing once they’ve reached this level
This is one of the most worrying conclusions that I’ve read. Ye Olde Blogge has been concerned about what we as citizens can do to help us ensure that our democracy continues. We’ve explored trying to make nice with MAGA Nation and the division of nation. It doesn’t look good folks primarily because MAGA Nation and the GQP refuse to participate in democracy any more. You can’t have one team playing baseball and the other mugging the fans in the stands and call it a football game.
The other most worrying conclusion is that our republican system of governance maybe close to collapse crushed under the weight of legislative gridlock and partisan conflict, i.e. the refusal to compromise with political opponents, which is the bedrock of democracy.
Reform is necessary, but how do reform the government when one side is busy gutting it like a fish?
Signs of Likely Collapse
Barbara Walter, a University of California San Diego expert on civil war, has identified four circumstances that herald the likely collapse of a democracy:
- when they are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic. Other than Biden’s legislative successes, when was the last time significant legislation passed and was signed into law? With increasing legislative gridlock, we’ve been forced to rely on executive orders to keep the country functioning. Check this box, amirite?
- when the leading political parties are sharply divided along multiple identity lines. The States are about as clearly divided as can be. Much has been written about how exclusively white, rural, and Christian the GQP has become and how diverse, liberal, and urban the Democratic party is. We’re there.
- when a once-dominant social group is losing its privileged status. As the demographics of the country change, white people are losing their privileged status. This demographic of the 6 January insurrectionists still astounds me, but it is so telling: Fifty-two percent of the insurrectionists were from counties that Biden won. What did those counties have in common? They all have declines in the white non-Hispanic populations. Declines that the white people living there are painfully aware of.
- and when citizens lose faith in the political system’s capacity to change. Given that three-quarters of MAGA Nation believes the Big Lie tells you all that you need to know. Even if 72% of Americans believe that the insurrectionists were a real and present threat to our democracy, will they vote that way in 2022? Even if they do vote that way, will it make a difference with the voter nullification laws enacted in various states? Do any of us have faith in Congress to get anything done? Respect for the judiciary is slipping — Here’s a sure sign, the longer SCOTUS delays on making a decision about whether Trump has to turn over documents to the 6 January committee, the more they are likely to be openly partisan in their judiciary decisions. Yeah, I think this box is ticked, too.
Conclusion: We’re fucked because the only way to reform a system that one party is actively destroying is through bloody fucking conflict. The problem is that too many people do not accept that our situation is as dire as it is. As long as Netflix works, we can go to work, and vote, most white people are satisfied that the system works. As long as the rest of us are being worked to the bone to make ends meet, we’ll be too fucking worn out to do anything about it.
The other problem is that half of the country has been fantasizing about this exact moment for the past fifty years. They have been aching to take their guns and defend their freedoms, which is shorthand for shooting Blacks, Browns, Muslims, and liberals at will. If they really believe that the government isn’t going to protect them from the criminalized Black menace, then they’ll take their protection into their own hands a la McClownskies.
“Every single person I interviewed who’s lived through civil war, who was there as it emerged, said the exact same thing: ‘If you had told me it was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you,’” she warns.Barbara Walter How does this end?
The biggest question is what will you do as things go to hell in a handbasket? Thinking of scenarios, options, and choices in advance will help you be more prepared. Actually preparing for the possibilities will make it more likely that you’ll act. Everyone needs to decide. Everyone needs to understand the magnitude of the moment that we confront.
Let us know what you think about the possibilities, eventualities, and the choices that we face in the comments.
How does this end?
Where the crisis in American democracy might be headed.
Zack Beauchamp 3 Jan 2022
Americans have long believed our country to be exceptional. That is true today in perhaps the worst possible sense: No other established Western democracy is at such risk of democratic collapse.
January 6, 2021, should have been a pivot point. The Capitol riot was the violent culmination of President Donald Trump and his Republican allies’ war on the legitimacy of American elections — but also a glimpse into the abyss that could have prompted the rest of the party to step away.
Yet the GOP’s fever didn’t break that day. Large majorities of Republicans continue to believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and elected Republicans around the country are acting on this conspiracy theory — attempting to lock Democrats out of power by seizing partisan control of America’s electoral systems. Democrats observe all this and gird for battle, with many wondering if the 2024 elections will be held on the level.
This post begs for commentary. What do you THINK is going to happen?
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