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Only following orders

By Daniel Freedman

Section: Opinions

March 10, 2017

The party in power has taken no interest in protecting democracy, not that this is remotely surprising given the context of the partisan status quo. Republicans have backed their own interests in the race and stacked the deck further in their favor precisely because they can, just as a majority of Democrats would. All they have ever known is a two-party system, and in Washington, they run their petty rat race of red versus blue with disregard for the pawns on the table.

This is business as usual. Voter disenfranchisement and suppression? Sure, all day. Gerrymandering? You betcha. And while these tend to be bipartisan endeavors, there is a preponderance of stories and boastful quotes that link at least intentional voter suppression with Republicans. But that is not the point of this article. I am not making a strawman argument of the Republican Party and picking them apart by their shortcomings—who are liberals to stand on a moral high ground and deny their culpability in this flawed system?

Unfortunately, the congressional milieu has been interrupted by an outside voice who claims to speak for a party. Sure, Donald Trump ran as a Republican, but his entrance to the race was dismissed by the heart of the party. The Republican centrists gave him attention only to condemn his words, until he was their presumptive nominee. Support slowly grew as Republicans decided they would rather sell their souls than lose the presidential race.

Now as their leader, the Republicans have closed ranks and toe the Trump line. Even the voting records of his harshest Republican critics, such as John McCain, have given way to a field of “yeas” in the wake of party pressure. Trump’s cabinet, stocked with anachronisms and ineptitude, would bring us back to the 1950s on environmental protection and social equality, with a war machine ready to conquer some unsuspecting Middle Eastern country with oil. Many of his harshest former critics now do not dissent—it seems either scruples or spines went out the window.

The whole of the party is held hostage. Many must feel that speaking out is political suicide, and without a coordinated effort, resistance would surely fail. Without the option of a coup, the Republicans in Congress continue supporting horrid acts. There is no telling where this will end; it is hard to draw the line on a slippery slope once you have already started sliding.

It is not only the politicians who have been swept along on this terrible ride, though. The polarization and divide in this nation are manifest in the media as well. Everyone is forced to take a side. Even a staunch Trump opponent such as Rupert Murdoch has seen his media empire turn Trump apologist, while left-leaning media has in some cases been prevented from even covering White House events. Trump has named the media the enemy of the people, which has the ring of an eerily despotic statement one might have expected from Stalin.

This is only the beginning, and many contend that calling Trump a fascist is a false equivalency, but fascism is not born of democracy in a day. Slowly, legal and legislative precedents are pushed back and control is accumulated. At the end, I wonder if the party of the elephant will remember and adopt the famous defense of the Nuremberg Trials: “only following orders.”

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