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How To Destroy Democracy in a Few Easy Steps

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By Michael Gold

We have poisoned our politics to such a degree that it is becoming extremely difficult to look at our current system of government as an ongoing conversation between competing interests who compromise to help advance the nation’s interests rather than a war in which the other side must be obliterated.

Yes, the midterm elections helped the electorate put a stake in the ground that said, “We stand proudly against extremism.” We now have a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. Many election deniers were defeated.

However, many elections were won with very tight margins. Saving our democracy this time was a nail-biter. Political commentators have pointed out that dozens of election-deniers still sit in Congress. Kari Lake, an election-denier who lost her race for governor of Arizona, is claiming, without any evidence whatsoever, that the vote was somehow manipulated against her. The biggest election-denier in American history, a former president, is once again running for the office, constantly complaining that he was cheated out of winning in 2020, again with no objective proof.

The damage this does to our political system cannot be exaggerated. It’s as corrosive as rust on iron, turning solid metal into flakes that can crumble in your hands. If you can’t trust the system and the people who run it, then you’ve put yourself on the road to chaos.

Politics is never going to turn into afternoon tea with the Queen of England, but it seems to have grown exponentially more vicious these last seven years.

In ancient myths humans created enemies who were horribly threatening to our lives, from one-eyed giants and monster sea snakes with razor-sharp teeth, to the minotaur, which had the body of a man and the head of a bull, who ate people.

We must question if we have advanced so much from these crude and fantastic tales, more than 2,000 years old, when a current member of the U.S. Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia, declared during the campaign season that Democrats are murdering Republicans right now. (Source: The Washington Examiner, Oct. 2, 2022. The Washington Examiner is a conservative newspaper and has no relationship to Examiner Media.) Where is the evidence for that? Wouldn’t Fox News feature such an awful event every night of the week if it really happened?

After the husband of the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was attacked with a hammer in her home in late October by a man looking for “Nancy,” the former and possibly future president said Pelosi was “an animal.” (Source: C-SPAN.org)


These disgusting lies are not spoken just for the sake of breaking new ground in some weird bad taste contest. They’re used to help turn the other party into an enemy, who must be attacked without mercy because they’ve transgressed the moral boundaries we have set as a society.

Our democratic system is set up as a constant negotiation. For this to work, it implies that you see the other side as having legitimate interests and you accept them as equals. It is in this space where the system is breaking down. If you see the other side as being irredeemably evil, you don’t negotiate with them; you try to see that they are suitably punished.

Rhetoric that claims the other side hates our country and is committing heinous crimes is designed to help create monsters in the minds of the listening audience, which justifies cutting them off at the knees. These politicians are saying you can’t talk to the other side – they are criminals without regard for human life and therefore, they must be eliminated. This type of language is laying the groundwork for destroying our democracy and establishing an authoritarian state.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I love my country. It’s the greatest country in the history of the world. What got us here started with these words, in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

The political system gets perverted beyond recognition, however, when extremist politicians use their rhetoric not to talk about how to improve the lives of our citizens, to attempt to win the consent of the governed and address our many problems, but to turn the other party into a low-budget movie monster out to destroy the listening audience.

Most people are just trying to get by, raise their children, and send them off to a good future. To deny that fact, and attribute to your political rivals every kind of malign intent, portray them as blood enemies and implicitly encourage violence against them is a great way to begin wrecking the carefully designed political system of the Founding Fathers.

Pleasantville-based writer Michael Gold has had articles published in the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union, The Virginian-Pilot, The Palm Beach Post, other newspapers and The Hardy Society Journal, a British literary journal.

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