American Democracy on Life Support: 2020 as the Turning Point

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Before I get into this topic, look at the heading very carefully. American Democracy on Life Support.

Many of you are thinking I, as an American expatriate myself, would be crazy enough to say that. America: the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is about to become dead. But looking at what this year has brought is: the failed impeachment of Trump, the Corona Virus and Trump’s failure to respond properly, Trump’s headbutting with China and the United Nations- especially the World Health Organization- and last but not least, the death of George Floyd, a black man who was wrongfully arrested and assaulted, with a knee on his neck, and his last words „I can’t breathe.“ Trump has done nothing more but to mobilize the military, all poised to take over the country.

Our beloved country, the country whose democracy was praised by the likes of Tocqueville and Beaumont, written by the likes of Walt Whitman, Hermann Mellville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and looked up to as a role model by other countries, American Democracy is on life support.

I was asked by some students what I thought about the situation with the death of George Floyd, the subsequent ravaging of hundreds of cities throughout the country through protests, looting and arson- something we last saw in 1968- and the response of Trump to all of this, the first words that came to mind was:

Tiananmen Square

As this is being posted and circulated, we’re marking the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Peking, which happened on June 4-6, 1989. Hundreds of thousands of students and other protesters marched through the streets of the Chinese capital, only to be met with armed military soldiers and tanks, mowing down demonstrators with showers of bullets. This came after the Chinese security police forced international news reporters to go off the air and go home. While we may never know exactly how many people were killed in the slaughter, which was in the tens of thousands, we know that the Chinese government gained a stronghold on its population, strengthened its Communist system of government and for years, have quelled protesters who spoke out against the regime.

It took the pulling of the trigger and one bullet to kill off any hopes of reforming the country, period.

The United States is one bullet short of doing exactly what China did. As one writer from the German-based newspaper welt.de mentioned in an article on the George Floyd protests, „American Democracy cannot breathe because a knee is on its neck.“ The knee comes from not only Trump himself, but all of the people who either are silent about the protests, have praised him for standing in front of the church for a photo opp, or have insisted that it is ok to treat minorities like second class citizens. It is a long standing fact that racism has been a systemic and systematic issue that has become a growing cancer in America. In fact, American society has been a caste system for over a half century where whites with Cadillacs and mansions rule and the blacks in run-down flats are crude and to be treated as cruel. Even lower class whites are considered by many to be trailer trash. It’s no secret that the land that used to convert people from rags to riches has become a privileged society with money and power, material and religion, clothing and housing are the invisible barriers. The mentality of „keeping up with the Joneses“ has become a faded memory.

Yet still, people like Mike Pence, Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, Bill Cassady, Steve King and Steve Daines– all Republicans have turned a blind eye to the problems facing America and have for the most part supported Trump and his policies of dismantling the democratic system that had been in place since the ratification of the US Constitution in 1787. The clearing of peaceful protesters at Lafayette Park across from the White House just so Trump can pose with the Bible in front of the church, was an ambush on the founding fathers of Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, Jefferson and all of those who crafted an Amercian system that served the people and not the privileged. No matter how a person twists and turns it, that was an example of a dictator and not a president.

No one knows how the rest of the year will be like, but we do know this: it will be a long, hot and bloody summer between now and November 3rd, when we all go to the polls. Amercian democracy is on life support and there is no indication of Trump taking any interest in rebuilding the country and reforming a system that is infested with cancer cells and has brought America to a critical state. There is hope that another president, like Joe Biden, can cure the cancer and bring America back to its international status. It’s a matter of going to the polls and making a statement, regardless of Corona or other impediments. Trump must go but his departure must also include those who have either been his supporters or been ignorant of the current situation.

Yet this is easier said than done. Trump has vowed to end the protests and will stop at nothing to gain hold of the power that has since been trickling through his fingers. Already military soldiers are on stand-by, awaiting orders from the President to march and strike. Militias and far-right groups, those mostly responsible for looting and setting fires in cities, are hungry for a civil war. America hasn’t had a Civil War since 1865 but it’s a bullet away from it happening. The aftermath will not be anything American at all. It may end up in the following scenarios:

  1. Military power for the long term with Trump in charge- This was practiced in many countries in Latin America and Africa in the 1960s and 70s with a high rate of murder and destruction.
  2. Civil War- While the thematic of blacks versus whites are the same, the war would be on par with the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) which ended with a dictator in charge.
  3. World War III- If countries are involved in the American Civil War, the US would be the new battleground for World War III. With nuclear weapons and advanced technology, it would be the war that ended in Commander Riker’s infamous statement in Star Trek First Contact: „Very few governments left, 600 million dead, no resistance.“
  4. The break-up of the country- California has been mulling an exit. Minnesota an annexation with Canada, Alaska goes back to Russia. A Roman-style collapse has been a talk on the table among many political scholars who have watched the US and democracy fall into disarray.

What to do in the current situation will depend on the will of Americans to unite and reform the American system from the ground up. It’s a system that has been plagued by problems affecting all forms of society. It’s a system that is corrupt. It’s a system that has been looked down upon by global actors. It is a system where even though it was a symbol of democracy, it’s currently on life support. With patients on life support, we find many creative ways to revive them, bring them back to life and reshape them so they are much stronger than the incident. It can never be done with a bullet. There’s no such thing as the return to normalcy yet we can embrace the new norm and still have a stronger and more equal democratic system. We still have a chance if we bring in the right people who are experts and creative in reviving American Democracy.

Because American Democracy is on life support. All it takes is a bullet from Trump’s gun to end it all. When it happens, we may not have much of a democracy left in the world to tackle the problems that will destroy us all in the end.

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This article is in Memory of George Floyd, whose life was cut short by senseless violence way too early. He died of injuries sustained during a police arrest on May 25. He was 46.  The Files will be supporting the cause of promoting equality among all races and classes and re-establishing a democratic system where all can have a chance to live their dreams and help others. We are in full solidarity and will do everything possible to put an end to this maddness that has brought the world to a complete standstill. We stand as all and not for the few.

Fl Fi USA