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No Power on Earth Can Save Democracy If the People Don’t Care

We Americans are terribly fond of our pithy little epigrams about how much we love liberty and democracy, aren’t we? “Freedom isn’t free,” we like to go around saying. We supposedly venerate our military veterans (“Thank you for your service!”) for putting their lives on the line for freedom. But now that the chips are really down, it’s becoming dismayingly clear that a solid majority of the American people care about a lot of other things much more than they care about the blood our ancestors shed so that they would have the right to speak their minds, to read what they please, to be treated fairly, and to have a say in how the country is run.

Poll after recent poll finds that far more people are concerned about the price of gas and groceries than they are about denying power to the people who came within an inch of successfully installing a dictatorship by means of a violent coup attempt, just last year. For example, the New York Times reported yesterday that a poll it sponsored together with Siena College found “71 percent of all voters said democracy was at risk — but just 7 percent identified that as the most important problem facing the country.” And of that 7 percent, how many are MAGAs who believe the lie that “rigged elections” and “vote fraud” are what’s endangering American democracy?

As a third-generation registered Democrat, believe me when I say I enjoy nothing more than bashing the Democratic Party and its ever-hapless leadership. “I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat,” said the early twentieth-century humorist Will Rogers. I chuckled when an old friend of mine, a lifelong Republican who is now a Never Trumper, told me the vintage-1980s joke about the world ending at 10 p.m., “film at 11, Democratic response at midnight.” I largely agree with the progressive-left line of argument that lays considerable blame at the feet of Bill Clinton (whom I voted for in 1992 and 1996) for ratifying just about the entire Reaganite agenda of deregulation, tax cuts to benefit the rich, small government, etc. Why would anyone bother to vote for these so-called third-way Democrats who were, as Clinton himself observed, really no different than moderate Republicans? On top of all this, many of the Democratic powers that be seem to lack the fire in the belly, the ruthless desire to win at all costs, that animates the Republican Party. “When they go low, we go high”—uh-uh, Michelle Obama, not when these are the stakes.

But it’s not the Democratic Party that’s responsible for the yawning indifference of the American people to what we all saw unfold on January 6, 2021. There is nowhere to hide, no possible excuse of ignorance. Anyone who purports to believe that “antifa” was waving all those Trump flags and chanting “WE WANT TRUMP!” as they rioted and killed police officers has simply chosen to believe a bald-faced, outrageous lie. We all saw, too, how the Republicans have kept their protective phalanx around Trump ever since, expelling anyone who wants him punished as they work tirelessly to ensure that the next coup by Trump or some other MAGA fascist is successful. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her psychotic, hate-drenched lies are the next big thing for Republicans, who give her standing ovations and want her as Trump’s running mate in ’24. This is what the Republican Party has turned into, this is what it wants, and anyone who votes for them or stays home on November 8 because of $4 a gallon gas is supporting the end of American democracy. If there are enough of them, combined with the MAGA fascists, then we will be forced to conclude: American democracy is doomed because the people don’t care to preserve it. Or even more simply: The American people no longer deserve America.

One thought on “No Power on Earth Can Save Democracy If the People Don’t Care

  1. Hell, did we ever deserve it? The only reason America was ever “great” was slavery… and then we didn’t end it like most people believe, we just made “criminals” the new slaves. If someone who’s had their will subverted by the state by being placed in a cage can’t consent to sex, why are they allowed to “consent” to go risk their lives to fight wildfires with virtually no training and for pennies on the dollar?

    We were never great. We have/had the potential to be… but we have never reached that milestone.


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