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Is There Still Time Left To Save American Democracy?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-02-20 12:07:39
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Henri David Toreau

There is an ongoing wishful thinking which began as soon as Donald Trump announced his candidacy: it’s fed by the wrong notion that somehow democratic institutions will stop, or at least curb Trump’s abuse of power. Now that he is president, some historians give us approximately a year to save the Republic.

The delusion seems to be based on a misconception, that somehow the leopard will change its spot, that one institution or other will eventually force him to change his behavior, that the office of presidency will mature him. But what has been demonstrated so far is that he doesn’t seem to care much about institutions as dispensers of laws, only in so far as they represent barriers to kleptocratic authoritarianism and personal ego aggrandizement. It’s all about Donald, all the times. Full stop.

There is a frightening complacency in the air that is redolent of the days of Hitler’s rise in the 30s during the 20th century. Then also things appeared normal to many Germans. They thought nothing had really changed. But they had changed and it was in fact the delusion that they had that soon enough led to regime change.

The mantra now seems to be this: we are Americans, not Germans; we are exceptionalists; we live beyond history; we have freedom because we love freedom; we love freedom because we are free. A bit circular, philosophically and logically speaking, but pernicious in the sense that if fails to acknowledge the historical structure that can enhance or weaken democracy and republics based on democratic structures. The escape from freedom can happen in any country. As Jefferson put: eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Republics, such as that of Rome, can rise and fall. In fact, most Republics have fallen. Historical amnesia will only ensure that all the mistakes of past history will be repeated.

The fact is that the Trump administration currently looks to authoritarian regimes as its models. They are undoubtedly thinking about them, not in a negative sense but sympathetically, in a positive mode.

Let’s remember the 30 but not in Germany, here in the US. At that time we had people vehemently opposed to Roosevelt and what they considered his “welfare state,” his interventionist leaning in Europe to save it from fascism. For them, not FDR but Charles Lindbergh was their hero.

What you have going nowadays is the notion that something went wrong with Roosevelt and we ought to go back and reverse it. Somehow it has been forgotten that “America First” was the name of a movement which attempted to prevent the US from fighting Nazi Germany, and was associated with white supremacists.

American first was the central theme of Trump’s inaugural address. He may continue saying that it doesn’t know the history of that slogan, which is probably true, but his aided Stephen Bannon surely knows. It is his alternative America of the 1930 wherein Lindbergh is the hero. Bannon was undoubtedly behind that inaugural address.

So, the questions that made their debut in the 1930 are resurgent: Is the Constitution worth saving, is the rule of law worth saving? Should the targeting of Muslims, immigrants, blacks be resisted? Should we grow resigned to the Trump Administration attempt to paint those who reject its agenda as un-Americans?

There is clearly in place the attempt to marginalize and delegitimize those who represent the democratic core values of the republic with the ultimate aim to bring down the republic. What points to it is that there is a resistance to protest, then in effect one is saying that one wishes for a regime where protests are not possible any longer. The ultimate aim is regime change, one that is authoritarian and disrespectful of traditional democratic institutions governed by the rule of law.

How is this accomplished? How was it accomplished in Nazi Germany? You begin slowly by first getting people used to the transition, you invite them into a perfidious process which asks them to have contempt for some of their fellow-citizens; those who insist in defending the Republic. You get them used to a permanent lying propaganda wherein they begin to prefer fiction to reality, passivity over concern and action.

You get them used to tweets and clichés galore such as “those who get out in the streets for what they believe are thugs and un-Americans.” You just sit there, read my tweets and approve enthusiastically; then you can consider yourself a patriotic American. That’s regime change in action leading to the rule of “Big Brother.” One stops it by refusing to obey it and exercising what two great patriotic Americans (Henry David Thoreau, and Martin Luther King) called “civil disobedience.”


Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them for FREE HERE!


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