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Peace Voice

American Democracy vs. Fascist Autocracy

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Liberty – Equality – Democracy: America and Americans are defined by their dedication to these founding principles--ideas that were fostered by the Enlightenment philosophers of the late 17th - 18th centuries, the Age of Reason, and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. 

Our Declaration and Constitution are secular documents. There is no invocation of a higher power. Trust in reason would guide American government and law. That would avoid the philosophical and theological questions that vexed humankind for thousands of years--humankind’s confusion, speculation, and quarrels about the existence of God, the nature of God, and what God wants. 

Engaging in abstract theological debates would not be the business of American government. And so, the founders separated government and religion. The US government would focus on the natural world and the concerns of the people. And America would be secular, accepting all religious faiths but endorsing none.

Unfortunately, Christian Evangelicals fail to appreciate the genius of the founders and our Declaration and Constitution. They have invented a mythical history of the founding, which wrongly preaches that America is a Christian nation. They believe their faith trumps reason and other religions as well. And they insist that everyone conform to their world view especially their views on abortion, homosexuality, gender equality and, in the case of the White Christian Nationalists, racial equality. 

The majority of Americans accept that racial and gender equality are basic human rights, as is the right to abortion, with some restrictions. They accept that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are not choices but natural inclinations, and that people have a right to live the life they choose. No one is required to exercise these rights, but everyone should tolerate those who do. 

Toleration is not the strong suit of Christian fundamentalists. Unwilling to abide by the will of the majority, they no longer view democracy as a blessing but see it as evil. And so, they would prefer autocracy and a strongman who would force the majority to comply with their archaic world views. 

But the crucial question is this; how can one deny equality, freedom and democracy and claim to be an American?

For more than 50 years, I enthusiastically supported the traditional Republican party, the party that championed individual responsibility, limited government, and democracy. Conservative Republicans like Barry Goldwater believed that decisions regarding abortion were the responsibility of individuals, not government. And they fought fearlessly against fascism and autocratic rule, as demonstrated by Ronald Reagan in Berlin when he told Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall.” 

But the traditional party has been undermined by the religious right. Evangelical Republicans applaud ruthless dictators like Putin. And they reject the founding principles. Yet they wrap themselves in the stars and stripes, disgracing the American flag. There is great irony here. With their nationalistic zeal for a mythical America of their imagination, Christian fundamentalists have created an American fascism. 

With a very few exceptions like Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney and Adam Kinzinger, Republican leaders embrace a would-be autocrat, Donald Trump, abandoning democracy and the founding principles. They have become domestic enemies of the nation they swore to defend and claim to love. But those who believe in the founding principles cannot and will not let this misguided party compromise the American experiment. This election will not be party against party, but American democracy against fascist autocracy. 

American democracy will triumph for the downside of a Trump autocracy is painfully clear.

There would be no Turning Back 

When Harry Truman left the White house in 1953, he congratulated Eisenhower and boarded a train to his home in Missouri, mingling with other passengers along the way. Trump is no Truman. He is a grifter and aspires to become America’s Putin. In his attempt to hold power and remain in the White House, he tried to rig the last election and led an insurrection. If elected he will try again, but better prepared, using the Heritage Foundation’s “Project 2025” as a road map. 

Autocrats stay in power. Sure, there are electoral autocracies, like Russia and Hungary. But their elections are shams. Putin, for example, has no political rivals. Anyone who seriously challenges his policies is imprisoned. The case of Alexei Navalny, who was a champion of liberal democracy, is particularly egregious. In February Putin murdered Navalny. Putin and his government are corrupt. He began his career as a lowly KGB agent, came to power in 1999 and has reigned supreme for 24 years, amassing a $200 billion fortune at the expense of the Russian people.

Income Inequality will Increase

Autocracies and oligarchs go hand in hand. Wealth concentrates with a few individuals. Society will comprise two classes, the super-rich and the rest of the nation. Wealth inequality, already a growing problem in the United States, will increase. More tax reductions favoring the rich will be enacted under the guise of stimulating economic growth, though that promise has failed repeatedly. To compensate for lost revenue, government programs that benefit the poor and middle class will be eliminated. Social Security and Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are targeted.

It is also telling to compare the personal wealth of people living in liberal democracies to those living in autocracies. The median net worth of citizens of America, England, France, Germany, Canada, and Denmark is 10 times greater than the median of citizens in Russia, Belarus, Hungary, China, Turkey and India. How could one believe sacrificing liberal democracy for autocratic rule would benefit anyone other than oligarchs?

Rights Will be Restricted 

Trump takes credit for the overturn of Roe V. Wade, which took away a Constitutional right for the first time in history. It was not that he was against abortion; he wanted to reward evangelical supporters. Next in the Evangelical scheme is a nationwide abortion ban. And it will not end with abortion. Texas evangelicals now want to outlaw contraception. To appreciate what else is in store, look to DeSantis’ Florida and his anti-woke agenda banning programs and books that address Black history, diversity and equality, and LGBTQ personhood. Evangelicals are intent on reversing human progress and end freedom as we know it.

Compared to autocracy, living in a liberal democracy is a blessing. To be sure, there are problems within our Republic. But American democracy has solved difficult problems for 250 years. And we can do that now. But our elected officials must be true Americans, men and women who believe in democracy, freedom and equality and are willing to work toward common goals. Compromise is essential. But that is something the MAGA Republicans refuse to do. The obvious solution to this problem is to vote these misguided people out, and vote real American patriots in. 

The United States is the original modern democracy. The past eight years of watching Trump, including four years suffering under his dictatorial wannabe rule, show us what we have to lose. 

Bob Topper, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a retired engineer.

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