Wake up or break up!

By Jack Stevenson Contributing columnist

For centuries people struggled to determine whether citizens would be governed by the Catholic Church or by civil governments, whether they would be ruled by hereditary monarchies or by elected governments, whether enslaved by fascist armies or saved by military forces from democratic nations.

The U.S. has long been admired for its democracy, but that image was damaged by the assault on the U.S. Capitol and U.S. democracy on January 6, 2021. Radical deviant politicians are now condoning and exploiting the people who hold bizarre beliefs including conspiracy explanations for things they don’t like.

Our slide toward chaos has been fostered by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have run amuck. Our highest court holds that lying is acceptable. The Washington Post counted 30,000 false statements made by former President Trump during his four year reign. The same court holds that money is free speech and any amount may be used to influence political outcome. The Constitutional 2nd Amendment right to own firearms, which many of us support, has morphed into a right to carry firearms on the streets and at political demonstrations where they are used to intimidate people.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz recently spoke at Texas A&M University where he toyed with Texas secession from the United States. “…I think we take NASA, we take the military, we take the oil.” What would justify an attempt at secession and risk of civil war? Cruz cited Democrats packing the Supreme Court, i.e., changing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. That has happened seven times during our history; the world didn’t end. Another trigger that Cruz mentioned was ending the Senate filibuster. The filibuster is a rule adopted by the Senate that essentially allows one senator to block legislation. A third trigger point for secession from the Union, according to Cruz, would be making the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) a state. The residents might not vote Republican. Senator Cruz was probably pandering to the audience, but it is irresponsible for a prominent elected official to participate in a discussion of a process that would squander the future of the United States.

The traditional Republican Party has been captured by an element that seeks to rule the country without necessarily winning the approval of a majority of U.S. citizens. They are changing state voting rules to make it difficult for some people to vote—people who might not consistently vote for Republicans. Republicans are gerrymandering voting districts to gain legislative seats, a geographical majority. They are adopting state laws that are intended to impede the functioning of the U.S. government. They are filing obstructionist lawsuits. Some have converted vaccine policy into a political wedge issue. The traditional Republican Party had no need to resort to extreme measures.

During the 20th century, Republicans served as President of the United States 52 years. That is a respectable record. That is functional democracy. Competition keeps us relevant. Looking at the 21st century, by 2024, Republicans will have held the presidency 12 years, and Democrats will have held the office 12 years. That is not a failure of American democracy.

It is difficult to imagine that pre-Trump Republican presidents would approve of the deviant movement instigated by Trump and his acolytes.

The Republicans who have captured the reins of the Republican Party are driven by fear — fear that America is changing, fear that America’s increasing urban population and rising number of racial minorities are not pleased with Republican policies.

American society is standing trial. During the next few years, we are we going to decide whether we will retain our democracy or descend into violent chaos. It is time to wake up before we weaken our nation with disunity and become a “has been” great power.

China intends to never again by subjected to a “century of humiliation” by Western powers. China intends to be a “world class power” in 27 years, i.e., 2049. That is the 100th anniversary of Mao Tse Tung’s seizure of power. Much of the world admires China’s enormous economic gains during the past 20 years and now think that China is a better model than the United States.

America can lead the world to a better future if we maintain a functional democracy and our unity.

Jack Stevenson is retired. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans and writes commentary for community newspapers.