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July 5, 2016


On this day after July 4, and after watching the PBS celebration of our country’s birth along with spectacular fireworks afterwards last night, I thought I would feel a new burst of freedom and a new zest for where this great country is headed – or could be heading. Then the downside began.

True it is that this country had a great start with the erasure of British tyranny and especially its embrace of democracy, a series of events for which we latter day beneficiaries of such sacrifice and embrace should be both proud and grateful, as (I hope) we are, but the question for us today is what we are going to do with such gifts. Are we going to expand such gift of democracy to our progeny and theirs, or is it all going to come crashing down in a sea of voter antipathy and loss of our democracy to moneyed interests?  Does “the market” trump freedom?

I have just written on the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh and am about to finish Jane Mayer’s must-read book, Dark Money, both of which when combined with our ho-hum response to the mishmash of special interests’ chapters in the TPP lead me to consider that we are not going to honor our predecessors’ blood-soaked gifts to us but are rather going to acquiesce to the special interests whose money is buying our politics and our economy. I have reluctantly concluded from the available evidence that such special interests (who operate from within) are a greater danger to our democracy than those who operate from without.

Thus ISIS, bad as it is, does not present any real danger to our democracy, but the purchase of our politics and our economy from within by the special interests resulting in a libertarian takeover of our government represents a clear and present danger to continuation of our democracy. Are we, collectively, going to play the role of Benedict Arnold in ignoring such a threat to our democracy and fail to honor the gift of those who bled and died to deliver it to us, from Valley Forge to Afghanistan?

As noted, it seems to me in observing and evaluating the passing scene that those without (ISIS, China et al.) constitute a lesser present danger to our democracy than those within (Big Money, capitalism run amok, purchase of our legislators at both state and federal levels etc.). The Kochs and their ilk, of course, want us to concentrate on the dangers without so as to take our eyes off their democracy-destroying antics within, a well-known diversionary tactic of politicians. We, of course, should keep our eyes open for all threats to our democracy, wherever based, but not one to the exclusion of the other.

The view of the moneyed class (not a traditional Republican view but rather a libertarian one – which assumes that the present Republican Party has not been conquered by libertarians) is that government should be designed and run only for their enrichment, and to blazes with the rest of us. That is about as opposed to the precepts of Athenian democracy and the pronouncements of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as one can imagine, and one, if such a view succeeds, will destroy our democracy.

How important is such destruction of democracy to ordinary Americans on this day after July 4? Just this (and as I often write): there is no good reason to even have a country unless we have one steeped in democratic values. I hope we are not ready for a dictatorship or return to kings and princes where the voice of the people is ignored and which, the reader will note, are historically tied to within forces who acceded to political and economic power. Take Hitler and King George, for example. Is that our fate?

Democracy is our gift and well worth defending against those who would destroy it. It is more valuable than all the money the Kochs and their rich friends can ever muster. Let’s defend it against all who would destroy it.     GERALD      E


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