Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.
(From The First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861)
Is that what differentiated Lincoln from his fellows, a patient confidence even in the worst of times, that things would get better? How many of us now have the “patient confidence” of which President Lincoln speaks? I don’t. Donald Trump and his army of toadies are threatening to destroy our democracy, and my confidence in the process. There are even those on both sides of the aisle (if one can even mention “both sides”) in our Capitol having only just survived a murderous insurrection.
Here’s what a very few of very many are saying:
The point is that neither megalomania at the top nor rage at the bottom explains why American democracy is hanging by a thread. Cowardice, not craziness, is the reason government by the people may soon perish from the earth.
The Keough School of Global Affairs,
President Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to guarantee a peaceful power transfer have created a climate of uncertainty about the election and its aftermath, with worrisome implications for the long-term health of American democracy.
Anne Berg in Penn Today: I think American democracy is already under siege. In my view, the developments that we’ve seen over the last several years, and particularly over the course of this year, represent a full-on descent into what you could call quiet authoritarianism.
And in the words of Marianne Williamson:
Our democracy is under assault by combined forces of corporatism and autocracy. This organized, well-funded assault seeks the destruction of our bedrock democratic foundations in order to secure its own economic primacy.
To serve its purposes, it aims to:
1) influence elections at local, state and federal levels using the unlimited financial power to do so granted by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision;
2) place corporatist judges on all levels of the judiciary; and
3) attack voting rights through such means as the 2013 Supreme Court chipping away of the Voting Rights Act
Justice Louis Brandeis“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
The Hill: Over the past four years, Americans have been told repeatedly that our democracy is at risk. Many factors are said to be at play. Voter ID requirements, limits on absentee voting, registration in advance of election day, polling place arrangements, opposition to statehood for the District of Columbia, along with concerns about voting by mail are said to constitute voter suppression.
But if these indictments do not persuade, there was the reality of Donald Trump’s 2016 election. Even had he not been the second president since 2000 to be inaugurated after losing the popular vote, Trump in the White House had to be proof certain that our democracy is at risk.
The New York Times: “The Republican Party is Attacking Democracy.”
Thomas Friedman’s column was headlined: “Only Truth Can Save Our Democracy.” It seems Republican successes in the House, Senate and state legislatures have got to mean that our democracy remains at risk.
Eddie S.Glaude Jr. at Princeton:” We’re on a knife’s edge,, The Republic is in serious jeopardy.”
Conclusion: In today’s United States there is little left of Abraham Lincoln’s “patient confidence.”