Is our democracy crumbling? The best thing you can do is vote!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: James Leutze is Chancellor Emeritus of UNC-Wilmington and was a professor of history at UNC Chapel Hill, specializing in military history. He is the author of “Entering North Carolina: Turn the clocks back 100 years‘, a reflection on the historical connections between post-Civil War and present-day North Carolina politics.

Much has been written about the 2024 election being the last truly democratic election. I fully agree with the impending danger. Elections are always hyped as THE most important, but 2024 will be the most important in living memory.

Two critical notes:

First, the 2022 election could be more important than 2024. It will bring into office those who set the rules for what happens two years later.

Second, democracy has been seriously undermined by the actions of Donald Trump and his cronies. It is life support and may not recover.

Why am I saying this?

THE TRUTH ATTACKS: Most important is the damage Trump has done to the concept of objective truth. It has been the cornerstone of civilized society for at least 500 years. Science, our laws, our educational system, our understanding of the universe and our society are based on the search for truth. Trump has left the sanctity of truth in tatters through his contempt for truth, his lies, his conspiracy theories, and his advocacy of “alternative reality.” Democracy cannot exist without truth. It is his vital oxygen.

AFREE AND FAIR CHOICES ATTACKS: This attack is in full swing based on the lie of voter fraud. Ironically, those who speak out the loudest about voter fraud are those who are most actively subverting the process of free and fair elections. Tim Michels, the GOP nominee for Wisconsin governor, vowed if he wins, “Republicans will never lose another Wisconsin election” because he will restructure the state’s bipartisan election commission, which prevents manipulation. Such a move, as has been observed in North Carolina and other states, would allow for the establishment of a permanent one-party parliamentary majority, regardless of the composition of the electorate. Intimidation of voters, complicated electoral rules, placing voter deniers in supervisory positions in the administration of elections, candidates who openly say they may not accept election results if they don’t win, all of this attacks our most sacred democratic tradition.

ATTACK ON THE COURTS: There are Trump’s attacks on the judiciary, self-interested in flouting the laws we all depend on in order to rationally and peacefully decide matters critical to the functioning of a democracy. His pardons, his employment of family members, his salary violations are contemptible in scope and scale.

ATTACK ON CONGRESS: In order not to leave any cornerstone in our constitution’s system of checks and balances, the former president consistently denied the authority of Congress. He refused to produce properly requested documents, did not respond to legitimate subpoenas, and prevented his officers from being available to testify. The only branch of government he respected was the Executive – as long as he was the executor.

LAST, LISTEN TO THE PRESIDENT’S TRADITION: He consistently shrugged off precedents honored by previous presidents, to the delight of his toadlicks. When the press pointed out his “unprecedented” behavior or actions, he grinned. That was the point. If he eschewed rules or previous practices, he wanted to snub the fictional “deep state.” Whether it was post-WWII foreign policy or less important issues like decency, he was president — he made the rules.

The foundations of our democracy are already crumbling. Tragically, these next two elections are unlikely to restore the democracy we have enjoyed for over 230 years.

The barbarians are already behind the gates. The most you can vote for is – and you must vote as if it were your last time. It’s no understatement to say it may be the last time your vote counts.

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