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On Watching a Democracy Die


On Watching a Democracy Die

Joyce Marcel

“Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms,” wrote economist Paul Krugman, prophetically, in The New York Times on December 19, 2016.


This heartfelt essay had a bit of extra meaning to me since I just finished reading Malamud's The Fixer. We are on the cusp of a surreal moment in history where truth and facts seem to have so little meaning. Our "liberal" media outlet, MSNBC, has hired a couple of ex-Fox newsers. The few bits of interesting info we used to find there will now likely shrink to the tiniest of crumbs. Of course, we have RT, and some of Putin's offerings are quite good, but...


Purging the intelligence community.
Purging the diplomatic corps.
Keeping a private security detail.
His party reviving the Holman Rule, to target individuals and individual departments.
Sabre rattling at N. Korea.

All signs point to a consolidation of unaccountable power and nuclear war.


How can a democracy die if it never was one?


Beautifully written, Joyce! Please keep writing trurh to power.


The problem here is one of selective memory.

Does she remember the 4 million Vietnamese killed by the United States of America when those Russians were suppressing peoples wanting independence in Czechoslovakia? The Vietnamese deserved independence without the meddling of other States just as the Czechs did.

Does she remember the land reforms of Arbenz in Guatemala who was toppled in a US back coup in order to protect US Corporate interests in the region? This in 1954 some 2 years before the Hungarian uprising.

Does she remember the Carpet bombing of Cambodia in 1969 which helped lead to Pol Pot taking power?

Does she remember the US support of arms and intelligence to the Government of Suharto in Indonesia where millions killed including names provided to the same by the US Government on a kill list? This in 1965 and 1966 .

Does she remember the CIA helping Saddam Hussein take power in Iraq and that same US Government providing a list of union leaders and leftists that needed to be eliminated? This in 1979 just prior to the Soviets invading Afghanistan.

All of this occurred and more in spite of what is claimed to have been a free and independent media committed by a Country claiming to value Democracy and human rights. Through all those the various Presidents lied to the people that elected them.

From Chile to Iran, from Greece to the Honduras, a whole lot of Democracies died at the hand of the US Government.


"On Watching a Democracy Die." Watching it die? Hell, I've been laying flowers on it's grave for years.


"...better than anyone!" Ahh, the certainty of a fanatic...


This of course is an excellent description of what's happening and has been for some time.
But one factor is always missing and that is what this spoiled, armed, angry and democracy believing country will do about all this oppression.
I was in Chicago during the riots in the 60's. There was a curfew and tanks rolled down residential streets with soldiers sitting on four corners of it holding rifles. You could not expect much worse from this clown than this. What didn't appear obvious is what the people were doing about it and they weren't staying home shivering. What wasn't burning was about to be. It was war in an American city, my fear is it will be again only worse.


Thank you so much for reminding not only Joyce, the author of this article, about the United States Governments un-Democratic policies which stretch back many decades, but also the 120 million Americans who on this past November 8th voted to leave the same political parties responsible for the decimation of our Democracy, in power. Ignorance in this country is disheartening for those of us incapable of blind faith.


The interests of the ruling class has continually represented by elected officials, almost always at the expense of everyone else -- since September 17, 1787 (William Lloyd Garrison was absolutely right to burn copies of the Constitution). Sure, while suffrage has gradually expanded to include non-white, non-male, non-property owning citizens, political representation has not. Us lowly plebs keep up the pretense of "democracy," electing people who don't represent us, but the corporate lobbyists and all their other chummy billionaire buddies -- it's one big circle jerk in Washington.

Now what good are elections that don't result in actual representation? It may look like democracy, but it isn't -- and, read your history -- it never was. There a few thousand individuals who will make damn sure we plebs never get that representation. Until we recognize them as the very enemy, it will just be more of the same. Trump is hardly an anomaly or aberration.


Yes, this empire is collapsing as is the whole of the biosphere and yes, it is painful to be part of this.

Unfortunately I can't frame this in a way that some new agers can: "isn't it great that we are here at this time in history?" or . . "we have chosen to be here, on this planet during this sixth extinction . . . wow!"

That doesn't work for me. Wish it did, maybe it makes things better.

I personally/physically can't flee this empire that is in full self destruct mode.

Even if I could, I realize there is nowhere to flee.

It is not just about humans anymore.

Those such as Morris Berman will have a field day with this piece (and others) from his perch in Mexico.

"Look at all those stupid americans thinking there was ever such a thing as democracy in the usa!"

As if he is somehow safe from environmental collapse (which includes all the spheres) brought on by humans.

This collapse will not spare Mexico, Scandinavia, Italy, Spain Russia . . . or the good ole usa. It will affect the whole world and anthropocentric concepts like democracy will be silenced as the AMOC grinds to a halt, silencing the sea with anoxia that will silence all life on earth.


I don't know any person my age who thinks that. If anything millenials are outraged that this is happening in their lifetime and want to do their best to prevent. Sadly the oligarchs in power would rather leave us to live in a Mad Max-like world then to give away a little of their comforts and power.


We still have Democracy Now. But in this morning's show, it seems that Glen Greenwald is the most recent person to join the crypyo-Trumpist, Putin and Assad-loving, """"left""""" (multiple scare quotes intentional). Even Amy Goodman seems a bit taken aback.


Like the dems who voted to sustain illegal wars, drone killings, African unity destabilization, kissing ass to the oil industry at home while ignoring our greatest carbon fueled institution, our military out of control. Lies about depleted uranium use in Syria, lies about Libya, lies about voter supression and worse not giving a damn when it happened in the primary. Sick of both? Go build anything but the Dems and Repubs parties. Stick with them to have sustainabilty destroyed, greed advanced and more genocide.

I want my democratic republic back not a sham.


Yes, I'm sure she remembers all those things and was engaged in considerable protest against them, but including all of them in what is supposed to be a brief essay would be kind of awkward, don't you think?

I notice that your article is missing a detailed CV of all your ethnic cleansing crimes and/or discrimination against hundreds of the indigenous peoples , the Acadians, the Métis, and also Canada's full cooperation and support of many of your neighbor's foreign interventions.


What you are saying is that Trumpism has developed out of the corruption of the pre-existing republic. I do not think Joyce Marcel would deny that. This historical reality only supports Krugman's comparison of the American and Roman republics. Both began to lose their way when the republic authorized imperial adventures outside the borders of the homeland. For many generations Roman generals ruled as dictators outside of Italy and led countless slaughters of foreigners. It took a long time before the generals turns on each other and eventually on the republic. Before Julius Caesar there were the tyrannies of Sulla and Marius and after him his nephew Augustus finalized a new structure in which the forms of the old republic survived under the arbitrary rule of one man.

Similar foreign wars and atrocities by the US military leaders paved the way for our Emperor Trump, and once he sets the example of abitrary rule, the generals will be eager to do the same. If he proves so incompetent that he quickly the love of the mob, one of his beloved generals might seize power within a year or less, under the pretense of restoring the republic. And then another general or commander of mercenaries like the new Ed Secretary's brother will lunge for power, and so it will go unless millions upon millions of Americans call out soon for the removal of Trump and for new, honest elections not under Russian control.

The way to move toward such a seemingly impossible dream -and it may indeed be crazy or futile - is to identify Trump for what he is at any and all opportunities, from the family gathering to the office to the shop floor to the grocery store to the PTA meeting. His supporters will become angry but they must be challenged. Curses are already flying in my direction and I am losing friends by the dozen - I urge you all to join me right where you are. No need to go to Washington and yammer at politicians. Call up a Trump voter and convince him or her to repent and to join the fight. There are Trump voters everywhere, just waiting to be hear from you and me!


Glen Greenwald remains one of the very few objective, investigative journalists alive today. He refuses to demonize Russia like the rest of the "red baiting" MSM. Greenwald tells it like it is and phony, US patriots don't like it when the media fails to paint a picture with biased, pro US colors.


Fellow Green, I'm with you. How long will it take the political neanderthals, that insist on voting Democrat or Republican, to evolve enough to see that they must find a party that puts People, Planet, and Peace before Profit? Keep the faith!


You tell him Skippy. Mr. Greenwald is a true journalist, who believes in finding and reporting the truth, unlike the Judases in the MSM who report only what their pimp corporate masters want them to say. True journalism is almost completely dead in this country. Thank God for Amy Goodman and Glen Greenwald.