≡ Menu

Commentary: American democracy on the brink

By Wes Mader Community Columnist

The debate about who won and who lost is over, but events over the past four years and highlighted by the past two months, make it clear that Americans are losing.

The world has witnessed a spectacle created by parties on both sides that demonstrates the fragility of democracy. Raw ugly politics have pushed America’s democracy to the brink of disaster. Self-appointed cheerleaders from both sides will point across the political aisle, and many in the national news media will pick and choose the facts or rumors that amplify their often-biased narratives.

As our nation teeters, are there enough adults in government to lead our nation back to where it belongs?

Possibly it was an act of God (in response to prayers from millions of Americans asking that our democracy be preserved) that gave Joe Biden an adequate margin of victory to confirm his win. If he had won the electoral vote by a small margin in a single state, I don’t doubt the extremist’s assault on the Capitol would have been full-blown insurrection.

If Trump had won, does anyone doubt that nationwide rioting and destruction by anti-Trump extremists would have made the chaos following George Floyd’s death look like child’s play? Mob protest followed by riot and destruction have replaced peaceful dialog. While disaster for our nation may be temporarily on hold, leadership from both sides of the political aisle is not reassuring.

President Trump’s response was predictable. His ego could not accept defeat and his arrogance pushed him to unashamedly claim he won by a landslide. His wrath toward Democrat leaders and the national news media who both rejected the legitimacy of his 2016 election was understandable. While they undermined his presidency from day one, so did he by his caustic public attacks on anyone whose opinions differed from his own.

The rush by House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer to impeach a president whose term is over was also predictable. While impeachment is no more than an accusation by the House of Representatives’ political majority, conviction and removal from office requires two-thirds majority in the Senate. Given that Trump is gone, is there any doubt that the real purpose of the Pelosi/Schumer move is to continue to stir the pot for political gain and control?

President Biden is also predictable. He could have asked party leaders to stop the impeachment charade so national healing could begin. Instead, he has proposed that the Senate allocate half-days to impeachment proceedings and the other half-days to policy considerations. Imagine the likelihood of a divided Congress having constructive bipartisan deliberation each morning, knowing that it would be followed by rancorous partisan impeachment debate each afternoon.

How did we get here? The 2016 election campaign pitted two unlikely and highly flawed candidates against each other. Hillary Clinton was in the driver’s seat with support of the Obama Administration and the national news media in her pocket. Of the 100 largest newspapers (by circulation), only two had endorsed Trump.

When Hillary unexpectedly lost, political hatred of Trump boiled over. The phony Steele dossier funded with Hillary campaign funds to discredit candidate Trump, now got waved as evidence that the Russians had stolen the election. Cries for impeachment were being heard in the halls of Congress before Trump could settle into the Oval Office.

Unfortunately, hatred begets more hatred. With Biden now defeating Trump, hatred on the Trump side boiled over with claims that Biden had stolen the election. It made little difference that the claims lacked evidence to show there had been enough shenanigans to overturn election results.

Trump’s public allegation that Democrats stole the election from him were painfully similar to Hillary’s allegation that Russia stole the election from her. Uncontrolled hatred is hatred out-of-control.

In final analysis, Hillary’s campaign assertion in 2016, that Trump didn’t have the temperament to serve as president was accurate. Trump’s theme that it was time to drain the swamp that Hillary was content in, was also justified. In my humble opinion, Hillary’s loss in 2016 and Trump’s in 2020 were of their own making.

Trump is gone, but most swamp inhabitants remain! It’s worth noting that Democrat Senator Joe Manchin stood tall as he often does, by opposing the hurry-up Pelosi/Schumer plan for another impeachment spectacle, and Vice-President Pence eloquently rejected his own president’s pressure to overturn election results. Will too many others continue to behave as political puppets, serving their party instead of their nation?

It’s hard to be optimistic when Congress’s approval rating is in the teens and almost half the country distrusts the current election process. Setting term limits, reportedly supported by 80% of Americans, would help restore faith in Congress. A return to voting procedures of the past, voting at the polls on election day instead of having a 4-to-8-week election season with mass distribution of ballots, would increase trust in the election process. It can only happen if/when the political hypocrisy in government disappears.

Please read more at the Prior Lake American: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-american-democracy-on-the-brink/article_bd7b8059-7879-5a2b-bdc5-fd1dd256e825.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.