Next Tuesday, it's Extremism vs. Democracy
Which will you choose?
Phew, it’s Monday already!
Well, it’s back to the keyboard after last week, beginning with three podcasts and ending with a four-day trip to Dallas, for the wedding of our dear friends’, eldest son. Of course, besides football, there has been plenty of national security news as well. I’ll do my best this week to put as much into context as possible over the coming week. This week I will lead off with the significant threat to the very foundation of our democracy, the extremist assault on all things electoral.
As many of you already know, I’ve spent a lot of time in combat zones the past couple of decades. I was raised to be a true believer in the founding principles of our nation and have, so-called, “put my money where my mouth was” in defending those principles. My dad (lifelong Democrat) mom (lifelong Republican) and other key figures in my life, were well informed regarding US/ world history. Dad’s other two main interests were government and comparative religion. He taught all three. Mom, also well-educated applied her farm girl common-sense to these issues. I gratefully absorbed all of this from my parents, who were both Veterans. Service, based on our stated national values and the full truth about candidates and issues, is baked into my DNA.
This doesn’t make me a “do-gooder.” It makes me what our founders expected from a citizen. In my profession, it’s imperative to understand the true nature of our most serious national security threats. I never, consciously apply bias in my analysis. It distorts the truth. I look for all known facts, by credible sources to analyze. I look to inform my fellow citizens, when we require attention to a threat and if the threat is imminent. The extremist threat to our democracy is not past and its next phase of assault comes next Tuesday. That is pretty much the definition of “imminent.”
In 2022 America, the single biggest threat is, the attempted and continuing threats to our democracy by extremists, masquerading as today’s “right.” Now before everyone loses their mind that I’m accurately describing today’s Republican party as extremist, first let me add a bit of clarification. There are countless millions of principled conservatives in the party. The problem is that they have no voice, because the controlling faction of the party is 100% extremist in nature. Their talking points are culture wars. There isn’t a single bit of it that involves a values-based approach to governing. Most so-called red states have a party platform fully or partially based on election denial, a conspiracy theory so vile and anti-American, as to prevent me from describing it publicly as I’d like to.
If the current GOP was harmless, I would leave them to their lunacy. This isn’t the case. With only a week to go before our next election, the controlling extremist faction of the GOP is running an all-out assault against the very foundation of our democracy, free and fair elections, as ensconced in constitutional law. Let me take a moment to list a few examples to give everyone a frighteningly clear picture.
· Dept of Justice Task Force on election threats released a statement in August that prioritized such threats as a national, public safety issue
· The US Election Assistance Commission has posted a website titled, Security resources for election Officials
o Here’s the lead quote:
“No one should have to face violent threats at work, but unfortunately, this is the reality for many election officials. There are proactive steps election officials can take to improve their personal security, and it is critically important to document and report every threat and develop a working relationship with federal and local law enforcement. This website provides a quick reference for election officials who may be facing personal threats while at work.
· The organization, The Brennan Center for Justice, founded by former CIA director, William Brennan has laid out their analysis that articulates, that the primary concern of election workers is their security. Some of their primary findings were:
o Election officials are facing threats, and safety concerns are in part because some have left their jobs.
o Election officials fear that conspiracy theories will infect administration and are worried about political interference.
o Social media is seen as a major contributor to problems.
· Also, from the Brennan Center comes a roundup of the changes to election laws in red states that imperil democracy by suppressing voters, especially in minority communities. If it sounds like the early 60s or “Jim Crow, 2.0” it’s because that is precisely what it is.
· The Brookings Institute, one of the top think tanks in the world laid out analysis on threats to our democracy as well. Their assertion is that it’s not just about Trump. His extremist faction has spawned an entire system of undermining US democracy by the right. A couple examples from their analysis are:
o COPYCAT CANDIDATES
o LEGAL COUPS
o A TOXIC INFORMATION ECOSYSTEM
o THE DECLINE OF AUTHORITATIVE INSTITUTION
o For the record, here in Texas, all of this and more is not only present but dominates our access to free and fair elections
· Finally, Reuters, a top tier, least biased news site published the following investigative effort into a report titled, “Campaign of Fear.” It’s a must read for principled Americans. It will terrify you more than any number of Halloween movies.
I’ll wrap up today’s post with a streamlined accounting of why I am even talking about this topic. Family tradition says to “stay out of public politics.” This isn’t politics though. This is about an extensive and radically dangerous insider threat to our democracy. The handful of points that I’ve made above speak directly to the threat. These same threats still emanate from and have grown within the Republican party, who is directly complicit in the attempted coup on January 6th of last year. Sixty-three percent of American voters will have election deniers on the ballot next Tuesday. It’s tough to be more extreme than that in a semi-functioning democracy.
Only a handful of Republicans have had the moral courage to speak up for our democracy, leaving the extremists free rein, to attack and destroy it as a faux political party. All but a couple of them have either been “primaried” like Rep. Liz Cheney or have quit, like Rep. Adam Kinzinger. The rest have cowardly hidden or endorsed the extremism. Either way, they are complicit as well. So- called, “principled conservatives” still voting Republican are also enabling the extremism, hell-bent on destroying what our founders bequeathed us and so many have died protecting, including friends of mine.
If and when, principled conservatives find their courage to join in protecting democracy, rather than enabling extremism, our nation will be far safer, and I will gratefully bow out of these topics. The way things look now, I will sadly be engaged protecting the nation, whose form of government, I’ve sworn to protect, for a very long time. It’s sad state of affairs when the Republican party is more frightening than a war with Russia or China, but here we are.
This Halloween, the current version of the Republican party is the scariest costume anyone could wear. Tragically, it’s not a costume, but the reality the right is forcing to deal with.