USA: The debate on Democracy, Oligarchy and Reaction

Burn the Constitution

By Seth Ackerman
March 26, 2011
The worldwide revolutionary turmoil of the years just after World War I witnessed the single biggest leap in labor’s long forward march.
At least, it did in most places.
But while general strikes were panicking European elites into making sweeping concessions to their working classes, here in America the Wilson Administration was swiftly re-privatizing the economy and dismantling the progressive wartime labor codes — prompting Felix Frankfurter to render a despairing judgment: the United States, he wrote, appeared to be “the most reactionary country in the world.” When the unimpeded rule of the plutocrats was confirmed by Calvin Coolidge’s election six years later, William Howard Taft concluded with satisfaction that Frankfurter had been right: “This country is no country for radicalism. I think it is really the most conservative country in the world.”

The United States is not a democracy — and it wasn’t meant to be one

In Americans’ popular imagination, Abraham Lincoln stands not only as a historic national leader, but also as the great exponent of the virtues of democracy. In describing the U.S. government as being “of the people, by the people and for the people,” he articulated one of our nation’s most cherished ideals.
To be an American is to embrace and believe in the superiority of democracy as the ideal form of government. With the contentious midterm elections happening next week, the advocates for democratic action are again out in force, with the familiar rallying cries: “Get out and vote!” “Make sure to register!” “Power to the people!”
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The Struggle for Democracy in America Has Been One Unending Battle

By Rafael Khachaturian
Oct. 15, 2020
Last week, Utah senator Mike Lee set off a small controversy with a series of tweets. One simply stated: “We’re not a democracy.” A second added: “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” The final one “clarified” that “[i]t’s a big deal, because in many ways, the whole idea of having a constitution itself, particularly a constitution that establishes a constitutional republic like ours, is materially different and distinct from a democracy.”
Observers rightly saw Lee’s tweets as emblematic of the antidemocratic animus of today’s GOP and conservative movement, whose frequent refrain is that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. Responses to this claim have tended to make two points.

The Oligarchs’ Revenge

By Manisha Sinha
October 6, 2020
The average person may be forgiven for thinking that the South actually won the Civil War. Despite a brief experiment in interracial democracy during the Reconstruction years, for much of its history the region has upheld a regime of brutal racial subordination. In the late 19th century, after the overthrow of Reconstruction, many of its state governments disenfranchised Black men, instituted racial segregation, condoned racial terrorism and violence, and kept a majority of Black and white Southerners economically bound through sharecropping, debt peonage, convict lease labor, and tenancy. By the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt called the South the nation’s No. 1 economic problem, resistant to unionization and social policies. Even today it leads in indices for poverty and weak educational systems. The Jim Crow South was upended by the civil rights revolution. Yet even in defeat, its language of oligarchy and its opposition to progressive political and economic policies through an appeal to racism has been adopted by the modern Republican Party.

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Pompeo and Trump are staging a coup d’état. (Can 2020 become 1933 and then 1941?)

Astounding and Tyrannical’: Mike Pompeo Denounced for Vowing Smooth Transition… for Trump’s Second Term

“This is a war against America’s democracy and against 75 million American voters.”
by November 10, 2020
Trump administration officials made clear Tuesday that the White House is still not willing to recognize President-elect Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is preparing for a peaceful transition, but only to President Donald Trump’s second term—a comment that ignited a fresh storm of disgust, condemnation, and warnings.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said in a news briefing Tuesday, in what Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law called an “astounding and tyrannical statement.”

Trump Is Staging A Coup — Why Are Dems Not Sounding The Alarm?

Republicans are following a clear plan to try to overturn the election results, just like they did in 2000. And once again, Democrats are not sounding a loud enough alarm.
By David Sirota
Nov. 11, 2020
The recent HBO film 537 Votes about the Florida 2000 election mess offers one overarching message: Democrats’ refusal to sound a clear alarm about the slow-motion heist in process ultimately let the election be stolen.
In that debacle, Democrats seemed to think things would break their way with well-honed arguments inside the cloistered confines of the legal system — they never understood how public-facing politics can play a role in what ultimately ended up being a pivotal political brawl outside the courtroom.

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