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THOMPSON: In 9 months, America will give birth to a revitalized democracy, or a new fascist state

January 22, 2024 - 12:00 PM



Republicans have done much to undermine American democracy over the past decade. A lot of it - like attempting a coup to overthrow a duly elected president - was clearly visible…crimes supported by overwhelming evidence.

Sadly, Republicans are more focused on revenge than governing…not just an opinion but a verifiable fact. Easy enough to prove. Simply look at how Republicans have spent their time during the past three years of the Biden Administration…and what they have accomplished.

Republicans barely retained a majority in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections…running on crime and inflation…and then doing nothing about either for the past year. They did prevent funding the government for the full fiscal year that began last Oct. 1.

They threatened a default on the U.S. debt last Spring and two government shutdowns last Fall. In December, they threatened Ukraine’s very existence by blocking U.S. Republicans look and sound like the “Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight” most times.

They took four days and 15 ballots to elect a Speaker of the House last January, ousted him in October, then fought like children for weeks - paralyzingly Congress - before electing a new Speaker…whose longevity is likely less than a promise to eat healthier.

Bitter and vengeful to the end, Republicans passed on doing anything positive for those who elected them…preferring to vote to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Biden. They freely admit their is no evidence of the requisite “high crimes and misdemeanours”…but they promise to look for them this month.

Republicans have a long history of calling what Democrats do “scandals” - think Benghazi - all of them “worse than Watergate”…except the accusations almost never lead to anything more than wastes of time and taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, you can’t find a Republican who’ll admit the Jan. 6 Insurrection is even worthy of investigation…“witch hunt”, they say. U.S. Courts might confuse them by finding a host of Republicans guilty in 2024.

Republicans dismiss the whole Jan. 6 coup as boring and partisan. Their propaganda arms…Fox and NewsMax, among others…either ignore the undermining of democracy…or launch into frantic whataboutism. Any Republicans not toeing the Party line are traitors, Communists, Fascists…a considerable example of projection.

America is looking at a presidential election in just over nine months. It’s a little like a pregnancy…you’re hoping for a healthy outcome…but fear complications.

Last week, the Republican political season started officially with what is known as the Iowa Caucuses. There are perhaps two things wrong with it…it’s Iowa, which in no way reflects America demographically or virtually any other way…and it’s a caucus.

Those unfamiliar with a caucus…consider yourself fortunate. The Oxford Dictionary makes it seem harmless enough…even benign…“a meeting at which local members of a political party register their preference among candidates running for office.”

It is, in actuality, more of a pep rally that includes the most rabid fans who believe a narrative based on fiction. It would be difficult to choose a less democratic way of choosing a candidate…especially for president of the United States.

There were hundreds of caucus sites across Iowa…with almost every registered voter within a ten-minute drive of a location. Still, just 15 per cent of registered Republicans showed up to choose who they want for president.

How does it - sort of - work? A representative from each campaign gives a short speech in support of a candidate, and then ballots are handed out to those who show up, who then vote by secret ballot. The ballots are collected and counted in open view of the caucus…with a campaign representative observing the counting. Members of the press, however, are excluded…making it sound kinda less like a democracy than you might hope.

It becomes even more unnerving when you consider that Donald Trump - a man charged with 91 felony racketeering counts - captured just 7.5 per cent of the Republican voters’ support in Iowa…that equates to less than four per cent in a general election.

So, on the weakness of that logic, Trump Won 20 of the 1,215 delegates he needs to become the party’s candidate. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley won eight and seven delegates, respectively.

Only three other states use caucuses rather than primaries…North Dakota, Wyoming and Nevada. One would be challenged to find a more ridiculous way of choosing someone who might be president of the most powerful country in the world.

Perhaps tossing a live cow or pig with the candidate’s name painted on its side on an ice-covered lake with squares…think checkerboard. You then garner delegates based on where the animal comes to rest after sliding. Makes as much sense.

The next state up - New Hampshire - holds a primary…tomorrow…Jan. 23. New Hampshire is not much more reflective than Iowa of the demographics of America. Residents of both Iowa and New Hampshire are mostly white…about 87 percent…mostly older…about ten years older than most other states.

This so-called system of primaries and caucuses continues for months…no wonder Americans suffer from political fatigue long before the actual election. Then, of course, there’s something called the Electoral College…which quite frankly had to involve alcohol in designing. You can win millions more votes…and still lose with the Electoral College.

Unlike many Americans, I’ve spent years living elsewhere…looking at the culture and politics of the United States from afar. I believe that I’ve gained a more objective…honest…perspective of  America living other places.

The gap between the aspirational America - what most Americans accept as unquestionable truth - and reality has always been great. Most Americans believe they live in a flag-waving democracy…not the democratic republic that it is.

There’s much wrong with America…especially if you’re not white, male and older…and until most folks recognize the inequities things won’t change. In just over nine months…America will give birth to a revitalized democracy…or a new fascist state. The stakes couldn’t be higher for ever American…and every Canadian.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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