Insurrection, sedition, insurgency…studies show, we’re not in danger of losing our democracy, we already have!
The headline, and much of the story, for today’s Around the Block is taken directly from The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, in his December 17 Op-Ed.
The headlined quote is from Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. Professor Walter also “serves on a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force that monitors countries around the world and predicts which of them are most at risk of deteriorating into violence. By law, the task force can’t assess what’s happening within the United States, but Walter…applied the predictive techniques herself to this country.”
“We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe. No one wants to believe that their beloved democracy is in decline, or headed toward war but, if you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory.”
As Milbank reports, “the United States no longer technically qualifies as a democracy. Citing the Center for Systemic Peace’s “Polity” data set — the one the CIA task force has found to be most helpful in predicting instability and violence — Walter writes that the United States is now an ‘anocracy,’ somewhere between a democracy and an autocratic state.”
But wait, it gets worse!
Milbank goes on, “U.S. democracy had received the Polity index’s top score of 10, or close to it, for much of its history. But in the five years of the Trump era, it tumbled precipitously into the anocracy zone; by the end of his presidency, the U.S. score had fallen to a 5, making the country a partial democracy for the first time since 1800.
“We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy,” Walter writes. “That honor is now held by Switzerland, followed by New Zealand, and then Canada. We are no longer a peer to nations like Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan, which are all rated a +10 on the Polity index.”
She goes on,
“A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy. A country standing on this threshold — as America is now, at +5 — can easily be pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions.”
Increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions? Haven’t I been hearing of things like that? Like voter suppression laws, gerrymandering and power grabbing by partisan politicians allowing them to overturn future election results… And a Supreme Court that sits back and lets it all happen?
If this is not enough, recent events are putting the run-up to the January 6th insurrection in the spotlight. And, it ain’t pretty.
Beyond former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ incredibly dumb book revealing information that the Trump crowd didn’t want revealed, we now have this, from Peter Navarro, former U.S. trade adviser and Trump sycophant, courtesy of the Huff Post:
“In an appearance on former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s ‘War Room’ podcast Thursday, Navarro praised Bannon as a ‘hero’ for coming up with the ‘strategy to go up to Capitol Hill’ on Jan. 6.
“Navarro, using a football analogy about one team sacking another, gloated Thursday that there were ‘100 people working on the … team … who were going to make sure we remanded the [electoral] results back to the battleground states,’ which would have subverted Americans’ choice for president. Navarro also referred to former Vice President Mike Pence as the ‘quarterback’ of the offense, suggesting they had wanted Pence to go along with the plot.”
It’s kind of ironic. When Navarro was subpoenaed by the House select committee to testify, Trump urged Navarro to ignore the summons, keep mum and “protect executive privilege” in the investigation by the “Communist Democrats.”
Before I go, I just want this to sink in: the former President of United States called duly elected members of Congress who are investigating the greatest assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812, “Communist Democrats!”
This, by the way, is the same former president whose slogan was, and still is, “Make America Great Again,” but in the process, presided over a “Polity” score drop of five points, putting the U.S. in league with Mozambique, Niger, Suriname, Papua New Guinea and Somalia, among others. Does anyone have a definition of “Great?”
I’ll close with my oft-used reference point to what’s happening in this country now, Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 dystopian novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.”
Yes it can…and indeed it did!