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Democracy at Risk

The Shadow of the Articles of Confederation: Democracy at Risk

Democracy at Risk

Democracy at risk is exposed in concise terms in The Thom Hartmann Report’s alarming scenario of a potential election takeover. Indeed, Hartman’s unsettling article raises echoes of the post-Revolutionary period when the United States struggled under the Articles of Confederation. This analysis looks at Hartmann’s article to express, briefly, the risks we face as a nation divided. Perhaps, we should rename the nation calling it The Disunited States of America?

In those turbulent years, the lack of a strong central government rendered the nation ineffective in addressing collective issues. The framers of the Constitution sought to rectify this by establishing a framework prioritizing a powerful federal government while balancing state interests. Significantly, the framers traded a strong central government rendering the states weaker partners. The framer’s idea of unity in the overall governing of the original 13 states won the day. The pressure from the southern states, however, secured some states’ rights as a compromise undermining Federal power. We are facing just that possibility in the politics of alternative facts that exist at this moment.

The Constitutional Framework: Democracy at Risk

The U.S. Constitution emerged from the failures of the Articles, emphasizing a strong federal government avoiding the pitfalls of a confederacy. The delicate balance between state autonomy and federal authority was intended to create a unified nation capable of addressing common challenges.

The Constitution’s drafting was a meticulous process that aimed to build a resilient, democratic government, accountable to the people. The framers recognized the dangers of unchecked state power. Therefore, they sought to create a system that would withstand the test of time.

Democracy at Risk: The Supreme Court’s Critical Role

Hartmann’s piece underscores the Supreme Court’s potential role in eroding the democratic fabric. He argues, that favoring state legislatures over the people’s collective will is destructive to democracy. The upcoming “Independent State Legislature Doctrine” decision could tip the scales, allowing states to wield disproportionate influence in presidential elections.

The Supreme Court’s responsibility is to interpret the Constitution in a manner that upholds its core principles. If it veers towards endorsing scenarios where state legislatures can manipulate election outcomes we are doomed. In this sense, SCOTUS threatens the very foundation of American democracy.

An Assault on the People’s Voice: Democracy at Risk

The scenario presented exposes a technical vulnerability. If the ability of state legislatures to override the popular vote where does that leave democracy? Overall, this possibility challenges the essence of “Government of the People, by the People, for the People.” This potential assault on the people’s voice echoes historical struggles against tyranny and reinforces the need for unwavering commitment to democratic ideals.

The democratic process must remain a reflection of the collective will, not a tool for partisan manipulation. Any deviation from this principle endangers the legitimacy of the electoral system. Likewise, it undermines the trust citizens place in their government. We may be entering a shift that Georgio Agamben calls the State of Exception. Overall, a better way to say it would be Dictatorship.

Democracy at Risk: Lessons from History

Reflecting on the post-Revolution era, we must learn from the flaws of the Articles of Confederation. The Articles failed to unify the states, leading to chaos and inefficiency. The lessons from that period should guide us in preserving the delicate balance between state and federal authority. If SCOTUS misreads the intent of the framers, that a strong union is unnecessary, we are condemned to authoritarianism.

The founders’ vision was clear: a united nation where the strength of the whole surpassed the sum of its parts. The potential unraveling of this vision demands a comprehensive understanding of the historical context that birthed the Constitution.

The Imperative of Unity

Unquestionably, Our nation must decide whether we stand united or risk devolving into a loose confederacy. Such a government where individual states prioritize self-interest over collective well-being should be unthinkable. The strength of the United States lies in its unity, a principle that should withstand the tests of time and political discord.

As we confront potential challenges to this unity, it is paramount to reaffirm our commitment to a nation bound by common principles, shared responsibilities, and a vision that transcends partisan interests.

Protecting Constitutional Integrity: Democracy at Risk

To prevent the nightmare scenario described by Hartmann, it is crucial to reinforce the sanctity of the Constitution and resist any interpretation that endangers democratic principles. To that end, Constitutional integrity must be safeguarded not only by the Supreme Court but by every citizen, lawmaker, and institution dedicated to preserving the essence of American democracy.

While respecting the autonomy of states, it is imperative to uphold the spirit of the Constitution! Clearly, this viewpoint ensures that no entity can manipulate its provisions to undermine the democratic will of the people.

Solutions: A Call for Congressional Action

As Hartmann suggests, amending the Electoral Count Act is a vital step. Congress must act decisively to ensure the people’s voice prevails over partisan manipulations. This may require bipartisan efforts to fortify the legislation, addressing any ambiguities that could be exploited for political gain.

To put it another way, the responsibility lies not only with lawmakers but with citizens who must advocate for legislative measures that reinforce the democratic process. Inaction risks leaving the door open for those who seek to subvert the foundational principles that guide our nation.

The Role of Civic Engagement

Citizens must actively engage in the democratic process, stay informed, and participate in elections at all levels. Vigilance is the bedrock of a robust democracy. By educating themselves on constitutional matters, citizens can contribute to a collective defense against potential erosions of democratic values.

Civic engagement extends beyond the ballot box; it involves holding elected officials accountable, demanding transparency, and actively participating in discussions that shape the future of the nation. Informed citizens are the guardians of democracy.

Looking Forward

In confronting the potential erosion of democratic values, we must draw inspiration from history, act with urgency, and unite to safeguard the principles upon which our nation was founded. The road ahead requires a collective commitment to preserving the essence of democracy, ensuring that the United States remains a beacon of democratic governance for generations to come.

Preserving the Essence of Democracy

The threat outlined by Hartmann is real. To that end, through a collective commitment to democratic values, constitutional integrity, and civic engagement, we can overcome the challenges that jeopardize the very essence of American democracy. By learning from history, upholding unity, and actively participating in the democratic process, we can protect and strengthen the democratic experiment that defines the United States. What is truly unfortunate is that the fate of the American experiment in democracy may rest in the hands of SCOTUS and its conservative majority.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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