Is Democracy Dying?

A few additional thoughts on a second reading of Bret Stephens’ How Trump Wins Next Year

In what he writes Bret Stephens implies that Trump will win in 2020. And his main argument for saying so is the growing number of authoritarian states springing up everywhere, and, even more troubling, the fact that we see this happening to our own allies, and most troubling of all to our own land and country in the person of Donald Trump.

It almost seems that people don’t want to be free. Stephens is not talking about the much older dictatorships in China and Russia, in Cuba and Egypt. He’s talking about the democracies in Italy, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, and the what used to be democracies in Turkey and Israel, lands that are being seriously threatened if not undone by authoritarian heads of state.

Now you may believe as Bret does that the world, and in particular the Western world of which we are a part, is hell bent on establishing authoritarian governments, and that our own authoritarian president, Donald Trump, is hell bent on getting on board this ship of a new state,  and that his reelection in 2020 is now likely, in spite of the fact that he himself is less and less liked.

Why is that? What is the origin of the new authoritarianism? And why is America sticking with Trump, allowing his autocratic tendencies and impulses, if indeed it is as Bret says? For aren’t we all, or most of us, in this country underneath it all real democrats?

In any case we ought to remember that democracy doesn’t have much of a history in the West, nor in the East. Authoritarian governments everywhere have been the rule for most of recorded history, thousands, tens of thousands of years.

What’s the expression, we’re falling back into line, returning to an ancestral type, we’re reverting to the mean. The mean being a dictatorship. Reverting to the mean meaning to go back, as to a former condition, period, or subject, to monarchy, empire or other dictatorship. This perhaps is the real meaning of Trump’s MEGA hat, making America great again, making our president a sovereign.

It’s not that all these good people in all these lands are giving up on democratic governance, it’s rather that true democracies have not yet been established anywhere, and in the process of trying to get there people find themselves in chaotic and insecure circumstances. Authoritarians do bring a kind of security, as in Hitler’s Germany of the 1930s.

Democracies have always been works in progress, admirable at times, as in Philadelphia in 1787, as in the passage of the 14th. amendment to the Constitution, the Rights of Citizenship in 1868. And at other times, the works of democracies have been man made disasters, as in Andrew Jackson’s enforced relocation of tribes of native Americans from their ancestral homes in the South to the West, … as in the Confederate states response to the emancipation of the Blacks, by its Jim Crow laws, a kind of second enslavement of the “colored,” laws not taken off the books until 1965, and still influential and widespread in regard to the myriad racists and white supremacists still with us in the country today.

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