Twilight of Democracy

Along with my list of books on my reading ladder I’ve added another category, casual reading. By that I mean books I just need to start in on. One of those is Stuart Steven’s It Was All A Lie. That one lays bare the workings of the GOP the last 40+ years as being based on race. It confirms all the suspicions we had of the GOP all these years, but the Republicans would never admit to it except when Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern Strategy.
This book, Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum, lays bare the step by step procedure of the modern autocrat abetted by authoritarians in his society. The parallels to what Trump is doing send chills down the spine. The terror that awaits us if Trump wins in the fall will call upon us for the kind of courage shown by the Dietrich  Bonhoeffers and Andrei Sakharovs of the world. Will we have the courage to face what those terrified young protesters in Belarus face even as I write this?

Applebaum chronicles the step by step movement toward totalitarianism, starting with the courts, then the media, the academics, then the unions, and on down to the meanest, smallest little street and home in the land. No one must be allowed to escape. That is why it is called TOTALitarianism. But she does it at the most personal level, citing people she knows, was even friends with, long-time friends, close friends, even the godmother of her child – all turned into zombies. All I could think of was Lindsey Graham. 

Aug. 28, one day before my 79th birthday. The day after the Nuremberg Rally labeled a national party convention. We must always keep in the cloud, the blessed cloud, Trump’s performance, and performance is the word because that is how he understands it. The total cynics who enable him understand it that way, but for Trump it is a performance for himself, to yank him back out of the abyss that his fragile ego is on the lip of falling into constantly. The enablers know it is for The Base aka Deplorables, those who can talk about violence in the streets and devastated buildings without ever one word for dead Black people. The shade of Leni Riefenstahl hovered over that performance. The fireworks were stunning. All in the service of He-Alone-Can-Do-It.

Applebaum states that today’s debates have at their core the questions that lie at the center of this book: How is a nation defined? Who gets to define it? Who are we? My own blog post on this is titled We the Who? When The Base ignores Black corpses  we are thrown back to the 1700s, and earlier, and later, on into the 1900s (see book Slavery By Another Name) as the bodies piled up, buried only to avoid the stink. When The Base applauds keeping people out of the country based on their religion, we are thrown back to the 1600s. When we deliberately snatch children away from their parents and throw them into cages with other frightened children, we are thrown back to the slave auction block. This is why I insist on a historical approach to understanding contemporary life: we have become what we were. Our modern police force can be traced back in an unbroken line of transition to the slave patrols. Is it any wonder then that Black communities are more heavily policed than others?

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