A troubling pattern
To say that events currently unfolding in our nation are somewhat disconcerting would be a bit of an understatement.
If one wanted to transform a democracy (or, to be more precise, a “constitutionally-limited representative democracy” or “democratic republic”) into an autocracy, how would one best proceed? Many of the “early warning signs of fascism” were identified by Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist who studied numerous fascist regimes in recent history, in 2003. These 14 warning signs include such things as: 1) powerful and continuing nationalism; 2) disdain for human rights; 3) identification of enemies as a unifying cause; 4) supremacy of the military; 5) controlled mass media; 6) obsession with national security; 7) corporate power protected; 8) obsession with crime and punishment; and 9) rampant cronyism and corruption.
When any administration in power displays a pattern of relentlessly attacking and undermining those things often referred to as the “guardrails of democracy” – e.g., the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, an independent Judiciary branch and Justice Department, and a free press – something is seriously wrong. And when any President, helped by his allies in both the government and the media, attempts to manipulate people into believing that only he is a reliable source of truth, while relentlessly attacking all those other sources who question and disagree with him (and even present facts which contradict his claims) by calling them “fake news,” things are definitely beginning to slide down a chillingly dark and slippery slope.
Thankfully, so far America has proven herself to be extraordinarily resilient, thanks not only to the extraordinary governmental system devised by the Founding Fathers, but also by the vigilance and determination of its informed citizenry. Yet history has shown that even vibrant democracies can slip into autocracy when those in power begin insidiously undermining the governmental institutions, systems, and other safeguards designed to protect it.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked, “Well, Doctor – what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin replied, “A republic . . . if you can keep it.” Wise words. May we all remain vigilant and informed, and do what we can to ensure that our nation holds firm.
Dale E. Buonocore,