The stakes are high! The highest ever!
Will Democracy, American Traditional Democracy, and The Constitution and Bill of Rights be forever changed, deterriorated, and perhaps even lost!???
THIS is precisely the Goal of Achievement set by disrespectful, irreverent Trump and all his Associates, Allies and Cronies. ...Trump, the Autocrat and most costly Traitor America will ever have had.
But, to be better able to grasp these truths and Concepts, we first need to better acquaint ourselves with certain knowledge and fields of political thought and practices. Therefore, the compendium herein available to you for your timely reading and perusal.
John Zuniga Roberts
A New York Times Bestseller!
Bestselling author, former White House speechwriter, and Atlantic columnist and media commentator David Frum explains why President Trump has undermined our most important institutions in ways even the most critical media has missed, in this thoughtful and hard-hitting book that is a warning for democracy and America's future.
"From Russia to South Africa, from Turkey to the Philippines, from Venezuela to Hungary, authoritarian leaders have smashed restraints on their power. Media freedom and judicial independence have eroded. The right to vote remains, but the right to have one's vote counted fairly may not. Until the US presidential election of 2016, the global decline of democracy seemed a concern for other peoples in other lands. . . . That complacent optimism has been upended by the political rise of Donald Trump. The crisis is upon Americans, here and now."
Quietly, steadily, Trump and his administration are damaging the tenets and accepted practices of American democracy, perhaps irrevocably. As he and his family enrich themselves, the presidency itself falls into the hands of the generals and financiers who surround him.
While much of the country has been focused on Russia, David Frum has been collecting the lies, obfuscations, and flagrant disregard for the traditional limits placed on the office of the presidency. In Trumpocracy, he documents how Trump and his administration are steadily damaging the tenets and accepted practices of American democracy. During his own White House tenure as George W. Bush's speechwriter, Frum witnessed the ways the presidency is limited not by law but by tradition, propriety, and public outcry, all now weakened. Whether the Trump presidency lasts two, four, or eight more years, he has changed the nature of the office for the worse, and likely for decades.
In this powerful and eye-opening book, Frum makes clear that the hard work of recovery starts at home. Trumpocracy outlines how Trump could push America toward illiberalism, what the consequences could be for our nation and our everyday lives, and what we can do to prevent it.
An autocracy is a system of government in which [political] supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control... (Wikipedia)
The term illiberal democracy was used by Fareed Zakaria in a regularly cited 1997 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.
According to Zakaria, illiberal democracies are increasing around the world and are increasingly limiting the freedoms of the people they represent. Zakaria points out that in the West, electoral democracy and civil liberties (of speech, religion, etc.) go hand in hand. But around the world, the two concepts are coming apart. He argues that democracy without constitutional liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war. Recent scholarship has addressed why elections, institutions commonly associated with liberalism and freedom, have led to such negative outcomes in illiberal democracies.
Zakaria's definition was promoted by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban in 2014, who made the concept central to the creation of his own party, Fidesz. He claimed that the party's goal was to create "an illiberal state, a non-liberal state [that] does not reject the fundamental principles of liberalism such as freedom, and I could list a few more, but it does not make this ideology the central element of state organisation, but instead includes a different, special, national approach." He claimed that his form of "illiberal democracy" disdained toleration of minorities, believed in strong forms of majoritarianism, rejected checks and balances, and believed in nationalism and separatism. Indeed, he rewrote the Hungarian Constitution to reflect Fidesz's illiberal values, and has a authoritarian-like hold on Hungary, according to Freedom House.
Jennifer Gandhi argues that many autocrats allow elections in their governance to stabilize and reinforce their regimes. She first argues that elections help leaders resolve threats from elites and from the masses by appeasing those capable of usurping power with money and securing the cooperation of the general public with political concessions. Gandhi also claims that illiberal elections serve other useful purposes, such as providing autocrats with information about their citizens and establishing legitimacy both domestically and in the international community, and that these varied functions must be elucidated in future research. One example of the regime durability provided by illiberal democracy is illustrated in Mubarak's Egyptian regime. Lisa Blaydes shows that under Mubarak's lengthy rule, elections provided a mechanism through which elites bought votes to support the government (through distributing needed goods and resources to the public) to acquire regime-enforced parliamentary immunity. This enabled them to accumulate illicit wealth and draw from state resources without legal consequence. Such research suggests that, given the stability-providing function of illiberal elections, states governed under illiberal democracies may have low prospects for a transition to a democratic system protected by constitutional liberties.
In order to discourage this problem and promote the development of liberal democracies with "free and fair" elections, Zakaria proposes that the international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting[clarify] and promote gradual liberalization of societies. Zakaria advances institutions like the World Trade Organization, the Federal Reserve System, and a check on power in the form of the judiciary to promote democracy and limit the power of people which can be destructive. Illiberal democratic governments may believe they have a mandate to act in any way they see fit as long as they hold regular elections. Lack of liberties such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly make opposition extremely difficult. The rulers may centralize powers between branches of the central government and local government (exhibiting no separation of powers). Media are often controlled by the state and strongly support the regime. Non-governmental organizations may face onerous regulations or simply be prohibited. The regime may use red tape, economic pressure, imprisonment or violence against its critics. Zakaria believes that constitutional liberalism can bring democracy, but not vice versa.
PRINCETON - Nearly two decades ago, the political commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote a prophetic article called "The Rise of the Illiberal Democracy," in which he worried about the rise of popular autocrats with little regard for the rule of law and civil liberties. Governments may be elected in free and fair elections, he wrote, and yet routinely violate their citizens' basic rights.
Since Zakaria's piece, illiberal democracies have become more the norm than the exception. By Freedom House's count, more than 60% of the world's countries are electoral democracies - regimes in which political parties compete and come to power in regularly scheduled elections - up from around 40% in the late 1980s. But the majority of these democracies fail to provide equal protection under the law.
Typically, it is minority groups (ethnic, religious, linguistic, or regional) that bear the brunt of illiberal policies and practices.
"Of course, the elite prefer an autocracy in which they rule alone and protect their own rights but no one else's. Throughout most of human history, they had their way."
[Sounds like the USA today — right now — Doesn't it?]
Madeleine Albright [personally] knows from totalitarian regimes.
The future UN ambassador and secretary of state was only a toddler when Nazi storm troopers invaded her native Czechoslovakia, forcing her family to flee to London. Then, having resettled back home after the war, the family was forced to flee again when the Communists took control of the country.
So Albright's new book, Fascism: A Warning, is the work of a woman who knows authoritarianism when she sees it. And she sees the seeds of it not only in a slew of leaders hell bent on subverting democratic norms—Turkey's Erdogan, Venezuela's Maduro, Hungary's Orbán, and others—but also in Donald Trump, whom she calls in the book "the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S. history. On too many days, beginning at dawn, he exhibits his disdain for democratic institutions, the ideals of equality and social justice, civil discourse, civic virtues, and America itself."
Don't misunderstand Albright. "I do not call Trump a fascist," she said in an interview with The Daily Beast. But ever since she wrote the book, Albright says POTUS has gone "beyond what I thought was possible in terms of disrespect for the rule of law, that nobody is above the law."
Trump may be the reason Albright decided to write Fascism, but the book's subjects range far beyond the orange-haired one. Essentially a history of 20th century fascism and authoritarianism, the work opens by discussing the original goose-stepping bad boys, Hitler and Mussolini, and how they came to power, thanks to a combination of rising nationalism, technology driven angst and revulsion at governments that appeared corrupt.
Sound a bit familiar? Albright told The Daily Beast that when it comes to similarities between the '30s and today, "In the United States there are people who are feeling left out economically. Also, there's the sense that America is better off not being involved in international relations, that people around the world haven't appreciated America enough."
Fascism is particularly valuable for its analysis of how democratic regimes can slowly descend into authoritarianism and then fascism. "The tipping point is when there has been a systematic attempt to undermine the rule of law, to have the judiciary be a proponent of one point of view," she said in the interview. "Also, when freedom of the press is subverted, and there is a sense that all the vehicles of information are identified with the leader and his policies. The absolute tipping point [toward fascism] is violence, when the military is being used to control people."
Given these parameters, probably the only truly fascist regime in existence is Kim Jong Un's North Korea, although Albright identifies plenty of authoritarian governments—Turkey, Russia, Venezuela, Hungary—that are close to the tipping point, and other countries—Germany, France, Poland, Greece—where extreme right-wing parties are gaining increasing influence.
"The interesting regimes to watch are those who have just had their elections," said Albright, who pointed to Russia and Hungary as countries where re-elected autocrats might take steps to further subvert democracy.
Here in the U.S., Albright, who describes herself in the book as "an optimist who worries a lot," describes a whole checklist of Trumpian horrors. He likes strongmen. He speaks with scorn about U.S. institutions. His analysis of events is full of exaggerations unsupported by facts, which are designed to exploit insecurities and stir up resentment (Think: Mexicans as rapists). He threatens to lock up political rivals, denigrates the press, nurtures bigotry toward Islam.
"Albright admitted that like many people, she is dumbfounded that given his failures, GOP leaders have not denounced Trump."
Even more frightening, the book draws distinct parallels between Trump and Hitler (the powers-that-be underestimated both men initially, thought they were in over their heads), Trump and Mussolini (a belief in their own infallibility, a poor judge of individuals) and Trump and Sen. Joseph McCarthy (political leaders uncomfortable with their bullying tactics but afraid to call their bluff).
Not that there hasn't been a little bit of a learning curve since Trump was elected. "As far as North Korea is concerned, he has begun to understand the importance of diplomacy," said Albright. But with the hollowing out of the State Department under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, "we don't have a lot of diplomats," she said, "and any meeting like this involves a lot of preparation."
Plus, when it comes to brand new national security adviser and super hawk John Bolton, Albright isn't really all that sanguine about the foreign relations situation. "I am very nervous about Bolton," she said. "If you look at what he has said in the past, it makes me very nervous. He is a hard-liner and doctrinaire in a job that requires collegiality."
Albright admitted that like many people, she is dumbfounded that given his failures, GOP leaders have not denounced Trump. "I don't know why," she said, "I've been surprised they haven't. When they look at the cliff they are about to go over in the midterms, well, I am fascinated by the number of retirements taking place."
She also seems perplexed by the total commitment of the president's supporters. "I try very hard to be careful about not denigrating those who voted for Trump," she said. "Is it that they are enamored of reality TV? It's entertaining, it's something outrageous."
But she does see some slight movement away from total support, and it all has to do with the pocketbook. "What I find interesting is the Chinese trade aspect," she said. "You are now seeing these ads by farmers who see they are going to be hurt by the tariffs. When they see a policy that has unintended consequences, it becomes a matter to what extent they are being hurt."
This slight bit of optimism comes when American democracy is definitely at a crossroads. For the first time ever, the Democracy Index published by The Economist lists the U.S. as a "flawed democracy," and nearly one in five Americans (and 23 percent of Republicans) believe military rule would be good for the country. Albright's book discusses how lies spread on phony websites and Facebook, conspiracy theories, false science, and the coarsening of political discourse all play a role in a lack of faith in our most basic institutions.
"When social media began, I thought it was democratizing," said Albright, "it would give people access to information. But what has happened is we now see some of the problems, everyone gets their information in their own way, and it becomes an echo chamber. It kind of works against creating functional political parties."
Still, she remains that worrier who is optimistic. On a scale of one to ten, she said she is "in the ten point optimist category, but I am worried in the seven to eight point category, because of the coming together of a whole set of issues. Clearly what's going on internationally is worrying, and the fact that every hour we are getting some kind of information that President Trump thinks he is above the law.
"But I do believe in the resiliency of democracy."
A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth, and twenty-first, century and how its legacy shapes today's world, written by one of America's most admired public servants, awarded the highest civilian honor (Presidential Medal for Freeodom) for her work as tireless champion of democracy, and the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.
A Fascist, observes Madeleine Albright, "is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have."
The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. In Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.
Fascism, as she shows [in her book], not only endured through the twentieth century but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II. The momentum toward democracy that swept the world when the Berlin Wall fell has gone into reverse. The United States, which historically championed the free world, is led by a president who exacerbates division and heaps scorn on democratic institutions. In many countries, economic, technological, and cultural factors are weakening the political center and empowering the extremes of right and left. Contemporary leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are employing many of the tactics used by Fascists in the 1920s and 30s. [Donald Trump is equally doing the same.]
Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times. Written by someone who has not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.Amazon books