Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Democracy needs you

What are the pillars of democracy? How strong are the pillars of democracy? How far can we go in challenging democracy before it weakens or collapses? Do the pillars of democracy need our support? What should we do? What can we do?

I have been asking myself these questions in the last few years. It's odd, I think. Previously I took democracy for granted and didn't ask questions. Elections came and went, I voted, governments came and went.

I felt secure.

Sure there was a threat of nuclear annihilation. Sure there were epidemics. But we tamed those threats. Mostly. Life was good, mostly. Threats were elsewhere, not here. Then came terror. Democracy stood strong.

And now this.

One of the most powerful people in the world, the really important one, and a man pledged to his people as a guardian of democracy, has gone wrong.

Every day he strikes hammer blows at the pillars of American democracy.

Vicious unwarranted attacks on his political opponents and rivals of all political persuasions. Vicious unwarranted attacks on journalists. Vicious unwarranted attacks on judges and the courts. Vicious unwarranted attacks on the members of the legislature. Vicious unwarranted attacks on long-serving civil servants. Vicious unwarranted attacks on senior members of the military and celebrated war heroes. Nothing is sacred. No one is safe.

The relentless repetition, the thud, thud, thud, thud, thud of these senseless hammer blows must be harmful, wouldn't you think?

If those pillars were columns on your front porch, and you heard the hammering, how alarmed would you be?

The hammer blows are a litany of lies. Mean-spirited, uncaring, deliberate disinformation, delivered in a torrent of vile invective.

The President simply doesn't care about the truth. Not one bit. He says anything. About anyone or anything. But seldom the truth. It's painfully clear he has a strong ingrained preference for lying.

How can the President of the United States of America not stand on a podium of truth, trust, and dedication to the Constitution he swore a sacred oath to preserve and protect?

The Presidency is arguably the pinnacle of American society.

Presidents have generally understood not merely the power they wield, but the immense mantle of responsibility they assume when they ascend to the office. It is more than a job, more than a career, more than a calling; it is a summons to duty unlike any other, and a summons to diligent hard work.

Most Presidents have understood the weight and the importance of the office the people of the United States entrusted to them.

Most Presidents have done their best to rise up to the office they are privileged to hold. They have worked hard to find and appoint the strongest, smartest, most diligent persons they can find to help them govern. Presidents have been known to work tirelessly to absorb information and to learn from their appointees, to study their reports, assessments, and recommendations, and consider their judgments and opinions.  That is the way most Presidents have led the country and charted its course.

And here is a man who, for the most part, is none of those things. A man who routinely does none of those things.

To sum him up in a single sentence, he is a liar, a bully, a man who cares for himself exclusively and before all others, a person without loyalty, and a person who resists expert briefings designed to make sure that the decisions he must make rest on a solid foundation of tested fact.

This President prefers instead that his decisions lie on an unmade bed of prejudice, ignorance, and venal self-interest.

It's a shame really.

But apparently these things happen.

Which brings me back to the questions I have been asking myself.

How many hammer blows can those pillars withstand?

A recent count maintained by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief of the Toronto Star, stood on November 25, 2018 at 3,800 hammer blows. Lies and baseless accusations hammered at judges, legislators, and even members of his own administration. Lies and baseless accusations hammered at journalists. Lies and baseless accusations hammered at allies.

I know that I am not alone with a deep concern for the fate of American democracy and for the global alliances that flow from a river of patriots' blood spilled to defend and uphold them.

What can you and I do?

Learn and speak.

Learn about what is happening. When you learn about the hammer blows, speak out. Make your voice heard. Speak to your family. Speak to your friends. Speak to your colleagues. Share your concerns. If you are in the US and you are a republican, call your member of congress. Write them an email or send them a letter. Tweet at them if you must. If you are a democrat, call your member of congress. Write them an email or send them a letter. Tweet at them if you must. If you are an independent… well, you get the point.

It really doesn’t matter which way you lean politically. Democracy is an institution that all of us must cherish and help to preserve and protect. Every conservative, every liberal. Without democracy not one of us has a voice.

Say no to the hammer blows; say no to the lies; stand with journalists; stand with judges; stand with legislators.

The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court has spoken out: democracy has no favourites, neither republican, nor democrat.

You must speak out too.

Stand and be counted.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.