It feels like our democracy is at a crossroads and the problem is more than just the usual suspects—Donald Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, or MAGA Republicans passing suppressive voting laws in 18 states, or shameless gerrymandering all over the country, or the filibuster that allows the Republicans to paralyze the “Democrat-controlled” Senate even though their members represent about 15 million fewer constituents than do the Democrats, or the Electoral College skewing heavily in favor of small, mostly very Republican, states.
Polls show most Americans are in favor of just about everything the Democrats are trying to pass—legislation that would make life substantially better for average people—but right now it’s highly questionable what will ever see the light of day. Most of you know all this and don’t need to hear it from me, but the point is this: right now the Democrats aren’t just holding up President Biden’s agenda, they risk demonstrating that our democratically elected government doesn’t work, can’t get anything done, is an unmanageable mess—in sum, that American democracy is obsolete.
When government is dysfunctional, democracy looks like a farce, a complete waste of time; it’s one of the reasons so many countries around the world have turned to dictatorship or lean in that direction. We hear phrases like the “legislative process” and “how the sausage is made,” but at the end of the day the sausage better be good or you’re going to have a very unhappy electorate—and right now the sausage ain’t even making it to the pan. Too many people already question whether our democratic government is working and scoff at the idea that our Capitol is the “citadel of democracy” rather than simply a den of lobbyists. The Democrats must prove our democratically elected government still works, and right now they’re failing miserably.
The Republicans are No Longer Active Participants in Our Democracy.
The Republicans would like nothing more than to watch the Democrats fail. They have shown no interest in doing anything for the American people and seem to think government’s only purpose is to protect the business interests of the top 1%. Needless to say they are content to let the nation’s infrastructure disintegrate even further and allow the damage from climate change to continue unabated. Do they ever stop to consider the calamitous impacts of climate change, most especially the damage to the global food supply, will dramatically increase the immigration problem (that invasion of black and brown people they portray as a fate worse than death for white America), not only at our southern border but worldwide? Don’t they understand that our economic and social inequality is a ticking time bomb, only a small sample of which already went off at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?
While Donald Trump and his MAGAs make lots of obnoxious noise, the Republican Party has never been more in the pocket of people like Charles Koch (the other infamous “Koch brother,” David, died in 2019). The Koch family billions come primarily from the fossil fuel industry and they have been instrumental in slowing our nation’s conversion to renewable energy. The brothers’ right-wing propaganda organization, “Americans for Prosperity,” touts the benefits of “individualism” and “entrepreneurism” but really works on behalf of greed, the human race be damned. Koch and his ilk, if no longer his late brother, are as close as we come today to matching the lords of the “Cotton Kingdom,” men whose incalculable greed and evil led them to create a slaveholding nation in order to defend their wealth and power—something this humble spirit knows all too much about.