Freedom of the Press, the U.S. Democracy, and Donald Trump

I sat down at my desk just now to work on a book I’m writing. I started thinking about Donald Trump’s attacks on the free press in the United States and the relationship between our free press and our democracy and I found myself pulling up my blog to write this article because this is important. Once again, a disclaimer. Don’t read this if you are thin-skinned, if you can’t see both sides of an issue. Only read it if you are disturbed by the video that Trump tweeted today that shows violence toward one of the news networks, CNN. Only read this if you think that this was patently wrong and illustrated the President of the United States advocating violence. Thinking more about it, maybe you should read it anyway. Feel free to say whatever you wish in the comments.

The comment was made earlier in the week that Donald Trump denigrated the Office of the President of the United States by his low-blow attacks on the co-hosts of the show “Morning Joe” on the cable news network MSNBC. He didn’t just do it once, but a number of times. My questions about his attacks are two-fold: Doesn’t he have anything better to do with his time than watch Cable News, like work on U.S. policy or prepare for the G-20 summit and his meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin? and second, Is Donald Trump ignorant to the fact that the existence of a free press is necessary if a country is to have a democracy? I was under the impression he had advanced degrees from some pretty good schools. That begs the question of whether Trump has yet another agenda. We’ll get to that later.

A couple of days after he first trashed the Office of the President with his big, nasty mouth, Trump posted his video on Twitter that was particularly violent regarding CNN. This is where Congress should draw the line. Where is Congress? Having a nice Fourth of July weekend? Really? The anniversary of our Independence? One would think that the members of Congress would realize that our way of life and our form of government is at risk because of this man who is taking up space in the White House. I stated earlier that it is necessary to have a free press in order to have a democratic form of government? Perhaps Trump is interested in an authoritarian form of government where he is the “end-all, be-all” dictator? He is so insecure and has such a low sense of self-esteem that he keeps having to have even his Cabinet praise him and he constantly refers to the fact that “he won” the election (like we don’t know that).

He has set up his inner circle like a dictator (or a king) with his family at the core and a member of the disgusting publication, Breitbart, an alt-right, white supremacist publication as his right hand. That is extremely similar to what a dictator would do since he would be unwilling to trust others. Steve Bannon, of Breitbart, obviously has a great deal of influence over Trump.

Trump first trashed the judges who first stopped his travel ban. He ordered the Senate Majority Leader to use the nuclear option to get his Supreme Court nominee confirmed. Now, he has ordered the 50 states to turn over the voter records and confidential voter information to a commission he created. The last time I heard, 29 out of 50 states had refused. He doesn’t use Congress as a legislative body. He uses Executive Orders. All of these actions, and more, are hallmarks of an authoritarian President. Then there is the fact he has shut down White House daily briefings, for the most part.

Why does he fear the press? Because they expose these actions to the American people. He fears the press because he is afraid the American people will become wise to his actions. Without the press, there is no democracy. Look at Russia and other authoritarian governments. They have no free press.

Does Donald Trump have an agenda concerning the press besides whining about his image? I’ll let you be the judge. My answer to that question is an unqualified yes and it is to fundamentally change our form of government.

 

 

 

There is Support for Autocratic Government

This is a blog post I didn’t know I was going to write until I ran across some information today. The research completely baffled me. It boggled my mind so I thought I would share it with you, my readers. This won’t be a long post. It is more a journalistic post than anything else.

In politics, there is a phenomenon called “democratic deconsolidation.” Sounds like some term out of a political science textbook. It happens when a significant portion of the population thinks that democracy is a fairly poor way of running a country. It happened in Venezuela. Researchers named Yascha Mounk and Roberta Foa decided to study this phenomenon using a three-factor model. The first factor was public support for the democratic form of government. Something odd happened or it was odd to many of us who live under a democratic form of government. Public support for ¬†democracy in currrent democracies like the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and others was low and falling, especially among the younger people.

In the United States, 75% of those born in the 1930s believe that a democratic form of government is preferable. However, among those born in the 1980s, only about 27% believed the democratic form of government was preferable. To make all this even scarier to people like me, many of the younger people believe that army rule (autocratic rule) is preferable to democratic rule. I will have to admit that I don’t understand that at all. But, then again, I’m only reporting facts in this blog post. The same phenomenon was found in Europe.

This is all I have to say currently except one thing. If you are one who feels this way, please take a class in political science.

 

#SoCS – Jan. 28/17

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Two things are on my mind for this stream of consciousness post. First, I am away on a trip and the place where I am is where I would like to live. The unfortunate part is that it is likely to take a while, maybe a long while, to make that happen. I don’t want to go home. “Home” doesn’t feel like home anymore. This place, this magical place, feels like home. There is very little I can do to rush the process of making my dream “place” my home. I have to wait for property to become available and it seldom does. I will wait. I would wait a long time.

Second, I am worried about the state of our country, the U.S.A. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I feel so strongly that we have an incompetent in the White House. Not only an incompetent but an egomaniacal narcissistic man. A dangerous combination for someone with access to the nuclear codes. He has been there one week and has violated the Constitution multiple times. He has also violated at least one important campaign promise. I know people whose most important requirement of the President ¬†was that he was going to build a wall on the Southern border and have Mexico pay for it. Clearly, Mexico is not going to pay for it. Instead, he is going to tax us for it, the hard-working taxpayers. Not only that, but he has harmed the middle class by cutting the FHA mortgage insurance premiums. He doesn’t care about the middle class.

Do we let him go on and violate our Constitution and do absolutely nothing about it? The result of that will be the death of our democracy. Donald Trump may be the last President of the United States. We may be looking at a different, and less desirable, form of government. An authoritarian dictatorship, for example. If we’re lucky, a parliamentary form of government. Surely not a democratic form of government.

Then we have his and his Secretary of State’s Russian ties. Thankfully, that is being investigated.

The very most disturbing thing is the President’s efforts to stop the flow of information out of many of the federal agencies. Shades of Nazi Germany.

I’ll stop here, though I have so much more I could say.

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Can our Democracy Last?

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John Adams, one of our founders feared that it could not when he said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Of course, that was a long time ago and they were just in the process of building America, our great shining city on the hill.

We are not a true democracy but a representational democracy. If we were a true or pure democracy, all laws would be made by direct, popular vote. Some of our laws are made like this. Most are not with a good example being the electoral college.

Our founders actually seemed to prefer a republic to a democracy. They are identical in every aspect except one. In a democracy, power is held by the group. In a republic, power is held by every individual. Most think the United States is a mixture of the two forms of government.

The ancient Greeks, in the 4th and 5th centuries BCE, formed an amazing democracy for a time. Ancient Athens gave its citizens equal political rights regardless of descent, social standing, wealth, and other factors, though women could not be involved. The democracy devolved into an oligarchy after a defeat in war. An oligarchy is a government ruled by a small group of people, sometimes private citizens, who exert an inordinate influence on the government. Sound familiar? Athens did influence forms of government for two millennia.

Athens is just one example of a democracy devolving into a more tyrannical type of government. The Roman Empire was a republic upon which the U.S. government was partially based. It, too, ended due to a number of factors. The Roman Empire found itself in a severe financial crisis. The causes were years of war and overspending and high taxes along with inflation caused a widening gap between the rich and poor. The economy started to decline. The Roman Empire lasted much longer than the average of 200 years.

Other examples of the failure of democracies and republics exist. The characteristics of the demise all seem to be similar. Greed, power, money, and a concentration of power at the top lead to the fall of such forms of government. What about the United States of America? Is it too late for us to reverse the course of history?

What do you think?

The Brexit Vote: Does it Foretell the American Election

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Great Britain’s Brexit vote refers to the decision by the populace of Great Britain this week to leave the European Union (EU). A decision with wide-reaching implications not only for Great Britain but for the rest of the 28-nation EU, the United States and perhaps the rest of the world. One of the most important issues of the Brexit referendum was immigration into Great Britain. The U.S., of course, has the same issue that is a hot button for the 2016 Presidential election.

At the risk of over-simplification, the EU stressed freedom of movement among its member states. When Tony Blair was Prime Minister, he embraced the British integration into the EU. When eastern European countries joined the EU, many other European countries put immigration limits in place. Great Britain did not. Since then, three-fourths of the immigrants into Great Britain have not been European at all but of other nationalities. The immigration wave has been massive with the new arrivals stressing Britain’s welfare system, environment, and almost every other resource available to the British people. It should not be lost, however, that not an inconsiderable amount of the hatred of new immigrants had more than a little to do with racism and bigotry.

This begs the question of why wasn’t, under Prime Minister David Cameron, some sort of immigration reform put into place? Was taking the step of withdrawing from the EU actually necessary? It seems like a case of closing the barn door after the horses got out.

Of course, many draw the parallel between the immigration problem in Great Britain and that in the United States. I see a real difference. The United States has immigration laws already on the books. Enforcing them would go a long way toward solving the problem of illegal immigrants in the U.S. just like enacting immigration reform would have done much to help Great Britain.

Along with immigration, Brexit was also a response to globalization. It can be argued that it is a step toward de-globalization or nationalism. Globalization has been a movement in countries like Great Britain and the U.S. since World War II. Globalization involves free trade of goods and services across borders. In the case of Great Britain, that means that trade is tariff-free within the EU. Will the EU still allow tariff-free trade when Great Britain withdraws? We will see. Perhaps not.

Many countries have literally stopped producing many items needed by their people due to globalization. They rely on trade agreements with other nations to provide what their population needs. The United States has such trade agreements with a number of nations. For example, the U.S. no longer has a manufacturing economy. If there is a nationalist President, like Donald Trump, elected that tears down the trade agreements in the U.S., one has to wonder where the manufacturing plants and skilled labor will suddenly come from to produce what the U.S. citizenry need. The same questions can be asked about Great Britain. Will they suddenly be importing everything they need and paying tariffs? One can sense economic disaster.

So what happens now due to Brexit? In the short-run, the world financial markets reacted drastically negative. Manufacturers and financial institutions are threatening to pull out of Great Britain. Scotland will probably have a referendum on freedom from Great Britain and succeed. Other short-term effects are bound to be felt. The world as Europe knows it will change. We have no way to know what the long-term effects will be yet. The same may happen in the United States if Donald Trump, the GOP presumptive nominee, wins the 2016 Presidential election. #Brexit #realDonaldTrump #writing #amwriting #blogging