By Stan Levin
Among the myriad of political systems societies flirt with, the most fragile revolutionary experiment — and possibly least likely to endure — might be democracy.
An ideal that people of different persuasions would willfully and collectively empower one another for the well-being of all defies odds. Democracy requires adherents to accept that all people have value, and are entitled to safe and satisfying lives, eschewing exploitation of any kind.
Dictatorship — the antithesis of democracy — once entrenched, may endure for generations before being dislodged, which not a simple process. Differences between styles of government are generally understood. Fidel Castro’s reign illustrates totalitarianism, as does the current, cruel regime of Kim Jong Un. There have been many tyrannical overlords in history visiting chaos and misery upon vast numbers of hapless humans.
How could a functioning democracy, lofty in idealism and benefits, morph into a regressive Dictatorship, foreclosing millions from a decent life, so as to nurture a small number of privileged individuals?
The answer brings this narrative to Donald Trump, whose maddening shenanigans are staged to deliver, by force or subterfuge, the assets and subservience of Americans into the hands of a favored few at the expense of everyone else. No holds barred.
Nothing is too immoral, illegal or insidious when seeking a democracy/dictatorship conversion. The fix is in for the Trump clan to emerge as the “winners take all.” Strategies spawning dictatorship are textbook, reflecting a recipe masterfully constructed by Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527).
In his treatise, “The Prince,” a bible for tyrants, he famously established a set of rules for dictators. Machiavelli’s prescriptions have since been applied to deceive inattentive, ill-informed masses who were unaware of or apathetic about who was running the show, instead being immersed in satisfying their own priorities. The Prince’s the priorities are simply to acquire and hold power, with an emphasis on self-gratification, ruthlessness and unbridled cruelty in the acquisition process.
We can observe Trump behaving daily in the Machiavellian tradition. He demonstrates a singular lack of compassion for all of those outside his circle. Voters have enthusiastically invited a bit-by-bit takeover of their lives by The Prince, gradually increasing their powerlessness. It has become imperative that Americans not acquiesce to the benefit of the rich and powerful.
We are witnessing fear-engendering historical events that are loudly clanging the death knell of the Grand American Experiment, and its descent into the hell of The Great Dictatorship. Control of the affairs of our nation have been gifted to a madman, whose narcissism and purposes are transparent. His subordinates are, in large measure, compliant with his nefarious anti-democratic, self-serving antics.
Greedy, cowardly, complicit politicians are striving vigorously to salvage their own skins and bank accounts, showing little concern for dignity, honor or dedication to their constituencies, who have entrusted them with enviable careers. Those shameful politicians are, like Trump, Machiavellian.
The president’s blatant purging of persons he perceives as threats to his ambition, his rejection of persons of competence and experience, his inclusion of incompetents in their stead, the vesting of authority in lock-step followers, and disregard for the Constitution are all perilous assaults on democracy.
Loyalty, above all else, is paramount, and Trump’s sole criterion for his hopeful underlings who value their own lives. His reckless destruction of governmental norms are steps to tyrannical domination. And apparently many proponents, who ought to know better, failing to satisfy whims of The Prince could at any moment become grist for his mill.
Appointments to the power pyramid, including family, are charged with making decisions bearing on the lives of millions subject to Trump’s blessing. Those lackeys, as well, should they be so audacious as to attempt to constrain The Prince, will be risking their own skins.
Trump’s, despite the glaring deficiencies of basic qualities required of a leader of a free society, has played his cards cleverly and cynically to a sufficiently compliant public, crushing resistance in the mold of Adolf Hitler (who, lest we forget, deceived the German people and turned the world upside down).
In the event Trump manages to install adoring, boot-licking yes-people by executing a massive purge of qualified leaders, then he will have achieved carte blanche to govern, absent dissent and constraints, with absolute power.
And that, my fellow citizens, will define the demise of democracy in America.
Stan Levin is a Korean War veteran and active member of San Diego chapter Veterans for Peace.