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The Villages
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Democracy will be on the ballot in 2024

Marsha Shearer

The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system…is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. When a man unprincipled in private life,…despotic in his ordinary demeanor-is known to have scoffed…at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity…to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day, it may be justly suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”  –Alexander Hamilton, 1792

We are closing the book on 2023, but that’s really an illusion. Nothing is over; everything is a continuation. None of us begin anew. We take who we are, what we believe, all our foibles and attachments, prejudices and fears from one day to the next. Flipping a calendar page means little—unless we stop and seriously consider the import of 2024. What we’ll be looking back on, a year from now, depends on individual actions of voters during the coming eleven months.

Pundits have proclaimed every presidential election to be the most important and consequential in our history. But now we have a new understanding of those words. The 2024 election results could mean the end of the American experiment—the end of our constitutional democracy. It could mean that Americans want an authoritarian leader to tell them what to think, how to treat others, what to read, what to believe, what to teach, and how to behave. It would mean we’ve rejected our political system of checks and balances and lost our personal freedoms. For those contemplating what America would look like during another Trump term, here’s a preview.

There are no guardrails left at the White House. Trump learned his lesson. Better to have a General Flynn than a General Milley. Better to appoint flunkies as advisors who offer no resistance to his autocratic actions than people who actually believe in their oath of office. Think Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Kash Patel, and their replicas. They feed Trump’s insatiable ego and support his anti-democratic actions while suggesting a few of their own. Lack of guardrails is the prerequisite for all that follow. Trump assures no one is left to say ‘no.’

A free press that criticizes Trump is punished. Trump has called journalists who question his actions “the enemy of the people.” As barely a nod to current law, he said “I would never kill them but I do hate them.” And, “it is frankly disgusting the way the

Press is able to write whatever they want to write.” Trump’s Truth Social post on Nov. 29, 2023 said he will make MSNBC and other media pay for daring to attack his policies. The so-called liberal media is under attack and ceases to exist. Propaganda prevails. So much for the First Amendment.

Trump ends our commitment to NATO. Putin takes over Ukraine and continues to reestablish the Soviet Union. So much for our own security and leadership in the world.

Trump makes good on his threat to “terminate of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those in the Constitution.” This quote in Truth Social is a response to his continued claim of a fraudulent election in 2020. So much for the Constitution.

He makes the military a political arm of the White House and locks up political opponents ‘because they’re doing it to us (interview with Glenn Beck, Aug. 2023). He also wrote on Truth Social (Nov 22, 2023) that America’s top general, Mark Milley be put to death. So much for the rule of law.

Violence, threats of violence and intimidation increase. After all, what is one to do with “vermin” but destroy it. ‘Vermin’ is defined by Trump as “the radical left,” but basically it’s anyone who disagrees with him. And since immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country;” he keeps his promise about mass deportations. Since the Constitution is no longer our governing authority, Trump ends birthright citizenship. His last Veterans Day speech encouraged his followers to view their fellow citizens as “agents of evil” labeling those who disagree with him as “radical left lunatics who want to destroy our country.” And as he said, “I am your retribution.” Revenge is the order of the day. So much for democracy.

There’s more. His administration takes over curricula at all grade levels and dismantles the Department of Education and other government agencies. There are mass firings of civil service employees, attacks on the transgender and LGBTQ communities and other groups, and more book banning. Trump continues grifting to enrich himself and his family at taxpayers’ expense, attacks science that stands in the way of his agenda, and weaponizes those government agencies that remain. He supports white supremacy and makes Christianity the national religion. These are just a few items on his ‘to do’ list (The Atlantic, Jan-Feb issue, 2024).

Trump has told us what he will do. Believe him. The storm is coming. If democracy and the republic are to withstand the whirlwind, it’s up to us all to become informed citizens, to speak up and speak out, or we will sleep-walk into autocracy.

For the first time in modern history, democracy is on the ballot. MAGAs are saying out loud that democracy can’t withstand the storm. Americans need to yell back, “we the people are the storm.”

Marsha Shearer is a resident of The Villages and the author of “America in Crisis: Essays on the Failed Presidency of Donald J. Trump.”


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