Our democracy is on the line
Our nation and our democracy feel unsteady and wobbly these early winter days. With a sitting president who refuses to concede his office and honor the votes of over 80 million Americans, with embryonic fascists roaming the streets of the capitol and pummeling anyone who even looks like a “liberal,” and with a specious lawsuit of one state challenging the legitimacy of another state’s election, one would have to be entirely disconnected not to feel the tremors shaking our entire history and experiment as a country aspiring to be free and fair.
The state of our country reminds me of the words of the novelist James Salter writing about Ancient Rome when he said “this is imperial, this is lasting, this is gone.” In an irony almost too rich to be real, it is our Supreme Court, a third of whose justices were appointed by Donald Trump, that has coldly rebuked two lawsuits aimed at overturning what is widely considered to have been a fair election. With just a few bland words (like an object of desire rejecting a suitor) the court wrote, “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”
Not one of the justices appointed by Trump — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, or Amy Barrett — objected whatsoever to the denial by the court. Lower courts also have rejected at least 46 cases claiming illegitimate elections filed by Trump and his chamcha. Thirty-eight of those rejections have come from Republican-appointed judges in sometimes harsh opinions.
But to rely entirely on the third branch of government as a bulwark against the failure of the first two branches of government is inviting the quick fall of democracy. We have work ahead of us — all of us — if we have any hope of salvaging our nation. And the irony of quoting an historian of an empire now disappeared does not escape me, but the words of the Roman Tacitus remain true: “Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” Let’s be civil but not timid in rebuilding our democracy.