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 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.

14 comments:

dom chang said...

Sorry David, I'm going to have to remove you from the blog list....have fun with politics.

David Masse said...

So long Dom, it was truly nice to know you.

Steve Williams said...

I think the answers you seek are in your first two paragraphs. Governments come and go. Vote. The essential truths of democracy.

As strange as government is at the moment, it too will go eventually. The real power in democracy, the part politicians fear most, is voters. They're why they invest so much time, money and energy attempting to delude, misguide, lie, pretend, act, and whatever else necessary to convince voters of their truth.

Having worked on two congressional campaigns and all the stuff you see now has always been going on. It's just out in the open more now.

I have no fears for democracy or high expectations of elected officials. Their words matter less than their acts of governing. As bad as things can seem at times the reality on the ground is not much has changed. America has been in turmoil constantly since I was born. And will continue in that manner as long as opposing sides can voice their opinions.

My job -just pay attention, don't get sucked into the noise, vote, and things will change. Sometimes in ways I like. Other times not.

Regardless of what's happening at any given moment, I remain thankful to be a citizen of these United States.

My three cents on a non scooter-related subject.

Chiller tek said...

Wow Dom, that was a bit harsh.
I get what your saying. No better way to divide people than talk politics in my opinion.

You sure do have a lunatic at the wheel right now. Luckily its only for 4 years, god help everyone if its 8.

SonjaM said...

It's a crazy world when clowns can get elected president, but the guy was put in place by popular vote. +1 what Steve said: It will go away eventually. Votes will change the game again in time, that's the good thing about democracy.

What worries me the most (and this isn't an US phenomenon but goes for most of the Western hemisphere), is the right wing populism, and racism and hate crimes on the rise. This is something that everybody has to speak up and stand up against.

Peace, SonjaM

David Masse said...

Steve, thanks for commenting. I know how difficult this is.

I see this from the outside, and it's really not pretty. I feel a responsibility to speak based on what I see. I am truly not partisan.

I think my eyes opened in grade 10. I was in a Catholic high school. We had an Ethics class. It wasn't at all about religion. Our teacher spent the better time of the term doing one simple thing. She simply read to us. The book was Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, an account of Frankl's experiences in the Holocaust. That was life altering.

My wife and I raised our three children to be colour blind, race blind, and religion blind. In the result our immediate family is a fairly good reflection of Canada's diverse population.

I am acutely aware of how insidious prejudice is, and how potent the notion of 'tone at the top' is. When the winds blow to an extreme, fueled by nationalist fervour and identity politics, the first victims are minorities and the vulnerable among us. Those are my kids.

We (Canadians and Americans) have never been so prosperous and fortunate, and yet there is an unwarranted rising tide of fear and hatred directed at visible minorities with deadly consequences. In large measure it is sponsored by the President based on a large number of false narratives. There is a large number of people in the American electorate who are consuming the lies without question. There are also large numbers of citizens who don't exercise their right to vote.

I can't sit back in silence. I just can't.

I understand that much political speech is polarizing. The attack on truth is in large measure responsible for that polarization.

Not speaking up provides cover for the abuse.

David Masse said...

Sonja the concerns you raise are precisely those that compel me to speak.

I trust all is well with you and Roland.

It's not too early to wish the two of you, your family, Dom, Steve, Steven and all the others who stop by here the very best for the coming holiday season.

Canajun said...

David, I agree totally with your assessment of the current state of leadership in the US which is, in fact, the current state of leadership for the entire western world as the US has, for several generations now, held that position.

And while it's true that, in 2 years or 6, there will be new leadership in place, my concern is that it will take a generation or more (and I don't think I'm exaggerating here) to undo the damage done to America and, indeed, the world. He (and the GOP) have so poisoned the political well that, for example, a single post on politics, among dozens on other topics, is enough for some people to stop paying attention. Trump got his wish. There's been a wall built, but it's a wall between Americans. Democrats won't let their kids marry Republicans (and vice versa). Politics is verboten at family dinners. People are afraid of the "other", calling them "deplorables" and worse. Overt racism is once again raising its ugly head.

And people simply don't talk to each other, which is sad, especially for someone like me who enjoys discussing politics.

David Masse said...

David I fear, like you, that repairing the damage will take a long time. With luck, the pessimism may prove unwarranted.

My best wishes to you and your family for the upcoming holidays.

Steve Williams said...

I understand your concern David and I share it. My main point is the thread of anger here has always been here, submerged perhaps, but bubbling along in the dark -- in society and in the halls of government. What's changed is that it has become almost acceptable to speak it out loud. The decorum and reserve of the past is gone. I would like to think it is unique to a person, but we won't know for sure if it is now the new norm of political dialogue.

The Germans are having similar issues. They thought the ideas of their fascist past were gone but they too are seeing a rise in all sorts of bad things. And with a bigger part of the population born after WWII the immediacy of things is fading. And in that environment the history is diminishing.

Anyway, there's an ongoing firestorm in our political landscape with less and less tolerance and cooperation. It's like the 1960s again but for much broader and dangerous ideas. But, BUT, a single national election can change it. That's the miracle of our democracy. And that's why so many are pouring money into creating alternate truths and realities.

I did have to chuckle when your Prime Minister, while standing beside President Trump at a press conference, referred to him as "Donald." Man, he hates being called Donald...

Conchscooter said...

I was worried. Now I worry about long it will take to repair the damage Trump's causing. My next worry is that we have an opposition party with backbone. We shall see. As for commenting on this stuff good for you. Your thoughts are coherent and thoughtfully expressed. Good for you. If this thoughtful exposition causes you to lose “friends” I wouldn’t worry. Stand proud and those of us worth your while will be at your shoulders.

David Masse said...

Steve on PBS Friday evening the view was expressed that Mr. Trump may be ‘losing his magic’ with republicans. If that is true, and if bi-partisan efforts align to get legislation through Congress, the President could find himself as odd man out to a degree. That plus the Mueller wild card might, just might, move this sad performance towards closure. If an inflection point comes, change could happen faster than any of us think.

David Masse said...

Michael thank you for the kind expression of confidence. The thought of standing shoulder to shoulder with you warms my heart.

David Masse said...

Here’s an example of the real peril democracy faces: Toronto Star, December 1, 2018: https://goo.gl/uvSEMT

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