Letter to the Editor

 

America is in a dangerous condition and this November’s Congressional elections are critical to prevent further rise of authoritarianism in Washington.

Current SC Congressional representatives seem to lack the political fortitude to oppose presidential power out of fear of being attacked. Voters must exert themselves if we want a Congress with a broad vison of the role of government in protecting the public welfare and our institutions and laws. Attacks on our free press as an enemy of the people is just one example of the dangers we face.

Fortunately, SC does not require voters to register by Party affiliation. However, political party organizations are generally helpful to the candidate nominating process by making it less cumbersome. But when demagogues and extremists take over the process we get extremist general election candidates who when elected go on to achieve power and influence over government institutions and harm our democracy.

Detailed historical analysis of how failed democracies lost their way when their citizens and leaders failed to speak out against authoritarians is well documented by respected Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in their book, How Democracies Die. Their studies describe these four common characteristics of failed democracies:

  1. Rejection of or weak commitment to democratic rules of the game.
  2. Denial of the legitimacy of political opponents.
  3. Toleration or encouragement of violence.
  4. Readiness to curtail civil liberties of opponents, including media. This includes praising the repressive measures of other governments (Is Russia an example?). Major foundations of a sustainable democracy are the constitutional guarantees of a free press and the balance of powers between Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court.

Some of our congressmen are part of a group or faction that is failing us now. They are quietly complicit by not pointing out or speaking up about the attacks on a free press and concerned citizens who speak up. Does fear of attacks on themselves silence them? Are they afraid they may end up on a Presidential enemies list?

Availability of information and facts by studious citizens is unprecedented in our internet world. Yet, it is troubling there are so many citizens who rely on some specific media or social connection for information and don’t read or search out information that conflicts with their preconceived belief about an issue or politician, including our president. Social media and disinformation heavily influences them. They rarely verify what they have heard. It’s like a cancer that without treatment is spreading its roots and breaking down society and relationships. One possible cure is to choose new and effective treatments in this November’s election.

More people are independently seeking accurate information and not relying on partisan voices that are not objective. They can and will

make a difference if they vote in large numbers in the general election. I hope they will.

 

Chester Sansbury

Columbia