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Richard Bammer: Rumor has it our democracy is in peril. Is it? – Vacaville Reporter

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Is our democracy in peril?
Yes and no. But there are signs that events and people conspired and have long conspired to put our form of government — of, by and for the people, with majority rule but rights for the minority, rule of law, and checks and balances for our three branches of government — in jeopardy.
Besides freedoms of speech, the press, assembly and religion, free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our representative democracy and in any true democracy — an idea brought to reality in California’s own September gubernatorial recall election in which Gov. Gavin Newsom prevailed handily.
The people spoke. And loudly. That is democracy.
So it was distressing to read a news story this past week about the new details in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee, an account about ol’
45’s efforts to put his thumb on the Justice Department to do his bidding in the topsy-turvy final days of his presidency, including pressuring officials to aggressively investigate baseless claims of election fraud.
Released on Thursday, the interim report describes how Justice Department officials worked furiously to tamp down the pressure when the reality TV star-turned-U.S. chief executive was getting skewed advice from a lawyer he had first seen on television.
The actions of the outgoing leader of the free world (in the eyes of his MAGA supporters certainly) and the ensuing chaos he created so unsettled Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who worried behind the scenes that China might choose to do “a Pearl Harbor,” a first strike, that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the nuclear chain of command.
The committee’s account is also detailed in the recently released book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, “Peril” — which I’m beginning to read, and finding fascinating.
In recent weeks, the 2020 presidential campaign loser has flirted with the idea of a possible 2024 comeback and a second term in the Oval Office.
On June 26, in Wellington, Ohio, he was back doing what he truly loves, holding another humongous rally for the enthralled and somewhat gullible. He said, “We will not break. We will not yield. We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never back down. We will never, ever surrender.” Basically a call to war, it sounds a little like a famous Winston Churchill speech, doesn’t it?
Are these the statements of someone who accepts what U.S. history shows, that our elections have been free and fair and still are a sacred linchpin of American democracy? Is this someone whose real intention is to provoke a serious constitutional crisis when there is none to actually provoke, but will do it anyway for dubious reasons? One of them is his ego, of course, nurtured while he was growing up by a strict and demanding father.
Our democracy is in peril by what is happening in our nation’s second-largest state by population: Texas, where the good ol’ boys who are all Stetson hat and no cattle have long reigned and want to continue to do so, even as the Lone Star State is gradually turning more progressive because of increasing Latinx and other minority voting communities.
Republican state lawmakers in Austin have taken an already 2010 gerrymandered map and aim to lock in their advantage in Washington, D.C.
No surprise, I suppose. The newly proposed district lines, which create 38 districts when there were 36 just a decade ago, will delineate districts once considered toss-ups to have significant double-digit margins — for both parties. For instance, by redrawing a district in the Houston area, the 7th, it will advance from an 8.5 percent margin for the Dems to a 30-point margin.
But in another Houston area, a largely Democratic one, the state lawmakers were able to draw a new, safely Republican district, where a large part of the booming county’s white population lives. If that district were in play in 2020, ol’ 45 would have carried it by 18 percentage points.
And let’s not forget that bills that restrict voting access have been passed in nearly 20 states (most coming after the failed Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol), an obvious threat of voter suppression and a chipping away at what a true democracy is. On the other hand — it’s good news — more than 25 states have passed bills expanding access to the ballot. Clearly, federal voting rights legislation, currently languishing in Congress, needs to be passed.
In the epilogue to his 2020 book, “First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned From the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country,” Thomas E. Ricks, suggested 10 steps that “might help put us more on the course intended by the Revolutionary generation …” Chief among them was “Don’t panic,” followed by, to cite several others, “Curtail campaign finance,” “Re-focus on the public good,” “Wake up Congress” and “Know your history.”
In his famous 1953 book “The Story of Philosophy,” Will Durant wrote that if a government itself “is a chaos and an absurdity, if it rules without helping, and commands without leading — how can we persuade the individual, in such a state, to obey the laws and confine his self-seeking with the circle of the total good?”
— Richard Bammer is a Reporter staff writer
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