Where we stand, June 30, 2022
Your article presents frightening thoughts to a nation without the tools to think rationally. I would have hoped you might have had a word about the rotting effects of late-stage Capitalism. It's greasing the skids of Republican decline (pun intended).
Thank you for pointing out Phil Klay's new book in "Undemocratic Wars," NYTBR 3 July '22. With reference to your review, you might be interested in this, as well, written 10 years ago. Check the comments of Sec Def Gates: https://psmag.com/social-justice/america-in-the-hands-of-a-professional-military-30240
Presidential Speeches, Woodrow Wilson
...I earnestly believe in the democracy not only of America but of every awakened people that wishes and intends to govern and control its own affairs.
It is very inspiring, my friends, to come to this that may be called the original fountain of independence and liberty in American and here drink draughts of patriotic feeling which seem to renew the very blood in one's veins. Down in Washington sometimes when the days are hot and the business presses intolerably and there are so many things to do that it does not seem possible to do anything in the way it ought to be done, it is always possible to lift one's thought above the task of the moment and, as it were, to realize that great thing of which we are all parts, the great body of American feeling and American principle. No man could do the work that has to be done in Washington if he allowed himself to be separated from that body of principle. He must make himself feel that he is a part of the people of the United States, that he is trying to think not only for them, but with them, and then he cannot feel lonely. He not only cannot feel lonely but he cannot feel afraid of anything.
My dream is that as the years go on and the world knows more and more of America it will also drink at these fountains of youth and renewal; that it also will turn to America for those moral inspirations which lie at the basis of all freedom; that the world will never fear America unless it feels that it is engaged in some enterprise which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity; and that America will come into the full light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above all other rights and that her flag is the flag not only of America but of humanity.
What other great people has devoted itself to this exalted ideal? To what other nation in the world can all eyes look for an instant sympathy that thrills the whole body politic when men anywhere are fighting for their rights? I do not know that there will ever be a declaration of independence and of grievances for mankind, but I believe that if any such document is ever drawn it will be drawn in the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence, and that America has lifted high the light which will shine unto all generations and guide the feet of mankind to the goal of justice and liberty and peace.
Thanks for the great, insightful article!
Corrupt gop leaders are our fate. As Jim Fallows knows so well, the nixon era was a literal nightmare. Our country was breaking down.
The courage of Liz Cheney and everyone is outstanding, now, at the precipice.
The committee hearings are as riveting as the hearings were back then, the quiet courage of John Dean in the hushed packed hearing room.
To get a corrupt president to resign and to send many associates to jail, that took courage as well.
In every era, we find those willing to go far to help our democracy. That selflessness needs to be recognized. From the Capitol Police who diverted the mob long enough for Members and the Vice-President to survive death, to the families of the officers killed and wounded on Jan 6, we are a selfless people.
Let's recognize the daily courage of every person around the planet that does the simple daily thing of just getting up in the morning and just doing their job.
Millions around the planet work tirelessly to help others, let's honor them.
The grifters have always been with us; and grifters, thy name is gop, not the gop we know, but some awful twisted version.
Susan Collins from my home state of Maine can be blamed for Brett Kavanaugh but she is unrecognized for her alliance with Maine Dem Senator Angus King, to bring about recent gun control legislation. We are a small state, and these Senators are our neighbors. We need to thank them when it is the right thing to do.
From Professor Tribe's site: “We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.” — Anand Giridharadas
Richard Nixon, failed US president, resigned in disgrace :
“I would have made a good pope.”
“If I had feelings, I probably wouldn’t have even survived.”
“I really believe life is simple. It's all the other people that make things complicated.”
“I know you think you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is exactly what I meant.”
“When the President does it , that means that it is not illegal.”
“I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue.”
“I am not a crook.”
― Richard Nixon
Rings completely true.
Our rules of government may be antiquated. But our system of government is still, broadly speaking, responsive to the will of the people. The problem is that a significant percentage of Americans now embrace a party that rejects the rule of law. Fine-tuning the framework of democracy solves little if nearly half of the electorate is comfortable with authoritarian rule.
To take only one example: On January 6, 2021, when over 100 Republicans in the House challenged the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania based on a lie, those members of Congress were, by and large, representing their voters' wishes.
The Founding Fathers gave us so many ways to renew and revamp the democratic system. In my view, we could fix the representational imbalances of the Senate, the flaws in the Electoral College, and so on -- if a decisive majority of the population wanted to. We don't have that decisive majority.
I hope that Mr. Fallows, whose work I've enjoyed reading for many years, will address this factor in a future post.
I've been a giddy optimist all of my life. I thought when we elected Obama in 2008 that we might have turned a corner, that maybe the light of that shining city on the hill was what I was seeing at the end of the tunnel. Now I know it was only an oncoming freight train full of ignorance, fear and rage fueled by racism inspired and encouraged from the top down. I feel flattened, and discouraged, and, yes, fearful. Because of Dobbs 50 percent of Americans have lost authority over their own bodies and because of Bruen we're all packing now. What happens when the first Texas Ranger stops a car full of women at the New Mexico border? We're already teetering on the precipice of a second civil war and one incident like that could shove us right over the edge.
It turns out that the overturning of Roe is probably the best thing to happen to America’s democracy in years. People in red states are about to learn what it’s like to live under the Taliban and they will hold that lesson for the rest of their lives.
I'm another Michael in the history business, but (deservedly) less prominent than Beschloss. This has been coming since the 1930s. Really. At that time, republicans fought over whether to try to destroy the New Deal or accept it and try to limit it, as Ike believed. But there hasn't been a republican elected president since Eisenhower who got into office legitimately--Nixon with Vietnam peace talk shenanigans in 1968 and Watergate in 1972, Reagan with the hostage crisis in 1980, Bush I with the slandering of Dukakis--not simply criticism, but actionable slander--and then his son and now Orange Hitler conducting coups (2000 was a coup--if in another country the candidate's brother was in charge of the province deciding the election, we would go ballistic). Since the 1960s, republicans have been committed to destroying the government because the government protected people other than white males. And Democrats have not understood--and too many still don't--that there are no policy wonks in the republican party. You're either a traitor or not a republican. That's it.
Probability is an exact science, but predictions are hubris. Same with luck - it's a convenient label we apply to a fictional narrative that aids our attempts at making sense of the frequently unpleasant, illogical, and cruel facts that surround us each day.
All any of us can do is strive for sensibility, responsibility and compassion in our words & actions and then rely on whatever Force we believe may be managing our universe to provide us with an outcome that will cause the least amount of suffering. This requires a degree of humility that human nature typically abhors, which is why we're so uncomfortable with the notion.
Nevertheless, there is enormous value in cataloguing the players and their behaviors - productive or counterproductive - in order to guide us in our efforts to do the best we can. The above synopsis aids us in that regard, and for that I'm grateful.
My brother is more optimistic than me on the prospects for American decency to prevail. I hope Jim is right.
Thank you, James Fallows, for describing these horrors so clearly.
I am eager to hear your assessments and recommendations for A Plan to get us through the all-important midterms. Thank you.
Thank you for that superb essay. I'm a pessimist by nature; yet the Select Committee in general, and in particular, Cassidy Hutchinson's contribution, have left me feeling somewhat optimistic.
In some quarters, the difference betwixt an optimist and a pessimist is that latter avows matters have reached a nadir, and the former avers they haven’t. A most excellent essay by the way. Kudos.