Monday, December 13, 2021

The Erosion of Democracy

 I wish I were the only person concerned about the ongoing erosion of our democracy. The worst part of it is that it is coming from within ourselves. Republicans were upset about losing the election. And, being led by a man who claimed that the election was stolen, and who made an attempt to coerce several people to try to overturn the results, many people believed him. 

Once he was out, we might have hoped that it was over. But, it isn’t. A part of the country believes what he said, regardless of what facts are presented. They dismiss the facts as lies. And, accept lies as truth. Meanwhile, politicians In several states, lawmakers, men and women who are elected to lead us, are changing laws to make it harder to vote, in the name of preventing an election from being stolen, again. Again? The election wasn’t stolen. Trump lost. Move on!

At the same time as these supposed lawmakers, supposed leaders, are continuing to encourage people to believe that the election was stolen, against all facts, they are using the lie to change voting laws. They are also gerrymandering, reorganizing voting districts, in order to try to ensure that they win the next election. So, they are doing exactly what they claim was done. The dishonesty, the lack of truth, is crazy. It seems as though, consciously or not, they are setting about to destroy our democracy.

I understand that anyone wants to win. But, at what cost? I understand the desire to be led, but at what cost? I understand the desire to please, but at what cost? We are the freest country that I know of. I haven’t been to every country or continent in the world, but I have traveled. And, no country has the freedom we have. No country has a Declaration of Independence that says that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…Our rights are birth rights, no one, no government, gives us the rights.

These founders of our country were absolutely extraordinary. Are we willing to destroy what they fought to give us, in the name of winning at all costs? And, the cost could be our freedom and our democracy. China and Russia now seem to believe that they can be aggressive, because we are no longer as strong a democracy as we have been. 

I’m not ready to give up my freedom. And, I hope that anyone who reads this feels the same way. We need to be careful. We are reaching a point from which we will not be able to turn back. We cannot allow ourselves to believe the lies, or to believe men and women who have proven themselves to be interested only in their themselves, and their ability to use the power we have invested in them for their own ends. I’m not sure how to stop this spiraling loss of democracy. I do know that I do not advocate the violence perpetrated on January 6th. It was shameful.

But, I remember in 2000 when Al Gore lost the election to George Bush. The Supreme Court voted to reverse a Florida Supreme Court’s mandate for a recount. I was stunned. I believed that they should have sent it back to Florida, allowing for a recount. While the Supreme Court claimed that their decision was to maintain the security of the country, their decision seemed to me to interfere with the democratic process, and that it was politically based. I hoped that my fear was premature, and that it was not a sign of the erosion of democracy. Because, the judicial branch is supposed to remain separate from the other branches of Government. It is a fundamental pillar of democracy. We saw what the Nazis did to the Judiciary in Germany. We see it operate in autocratic countries, where the judiciary serves the dictator. But, not here!

Many years ago, I was teaching acting in West Berlin. The Wall was still in place. There was an actress who had been able to leave the East, and was now living in West Berlin. One day, during a break, I asked her how she liked being in the West, being free. And, she said that she didn’t like it. I was surprised, not being able to imagine that anyone wouldn’t want to be free. I asked her why. And, she said, “Because it’s too hard.” 

Honestly, I never have thought that freedom was too hard. Life is hard, but if you live, after awhile, it’s not hard. It’s just life. But, it is true that freedom demands that each person take responsibility for their actions, and their life. Trump lost, but like a spoiled, poor loser, he was willing to try to subvert the constitution and democracy for his own ends. Enough people continue to propagate the lie. 

The world now wonders whether the United States is still a strong democracy. I’m not sure that their fears are misplaced. What we do in the near future will be very important. Can we take responsibility for ourselves, learn to be able to discern when something is true or not? It’s very hard with the inundation of information, and all the misinformation we are subjected to on a daily basis. I don’t watch the news. And, I still know what’s going on. We need to protect ourselves from the over saturation of information, or we won’t be able to feel when what we hear or read is true or not. It’s a time for us to be strong, independent, and dedicated to protecting freedom and democracy, especially from within ourselves.