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Posted by on Jul 2, 2019 in 2020 Presidential Election, Democracy, Government, History, Politics, Theater, Writing | 0 comments


There are days when my mother’s observation about aging: “Every ten minutes it seems like it’s breakfast again” now reminds me less about aging and more about our own cultural amnesia.

In Shakespeare’s, Richard III, the King explains his villainous acts to seize the throne by saying: “…my kingdom stands on brittle glass…But I am in so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin”.

Donald Trump is our Richard III, and his presidency stands on brittle glass. He tried to shut down the Mueller Investigation repeatedly; he used Russian help to ascend to the presidency; he continues to attack and defame the press; and he contravenes the rule of law by challenging the constitutional rights of Congress to investigate his corruption. He is Richard III, and if he is not impeached now, politics in America will crumble. Democracy will crumble.

When John Adams wrote into the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780 that we are a nation of laws and not of men, it was at once both a novel idea in government and somewhat paradoxical in that men were assigned the task of actually writing those laws. Yes, Adams meant that, in America, no man is above the law, but its lived reality is that laws can be reversed, modified, or simply misapplied as political winds change.

One of the foundational ideas of the Enlightenment, the source code of our own founding documents, was the necessity of exercising reason over dogma, the necessity of developing critical thinking skills in order to counter the devious cunning of politics or the dicta of religion. But as our politics have surrendered to hyper-partisanship, our worldviews have strayed far from our founding principles, from our core national identity. Now, in today’s America, every 4 years it’s breakfast again.

Republicans have succumbed to the natural entropy of disordered thinking. They now live in an ever-expanding universe of self-destruction; they are intent on killing the goose that laid the golden egg. As Sir Thomas More wrote in 1516 in his book entitled, “Utopia”:

“(…) personal prejudice and financial greed are the two great evils that threaten courts of law, and once they get the upper hand, they immediately hamstring society, by destroying all justice.”

But if Democrats are to unseat this dangerous Republican regime, they appear to be fighting the wrong battle. It’s not that Republican policy is poor; it’s that Republican policy is intended to destroy democracy and replace it with their own plutocracy. This isn’t a battle for better government; it’s a battle against no government.

But in today’s Democratic Party, wisdom and grand ideas have been replaced with highly complex policy that absolutely nobody is willing to learn about – pipe dreams if we don’t win the election. Today, wonkery and purity tests substitute for clarity of vision and statesmanship. We’re debating the nuances of socialism versus democratic socialism; the definition of universal healthcare versus Medicare for all; jingoism versus coherent foreign policy. And, we’re plowing the sea as we debate the notion of reparations and historical positions on civil rights.

Democrats are hooked on the fantasy of waking up and having their superpowers back, when what we actually need is an America that remembers itself. We need to stop taking the bait.

Democrats seem to love being sucker-punched. But America will lose confidence in the Democratic Party if they don’t start to defend the nation against creeping autocracy, against the chest-beating idiocy of Donald Trump, against the Republican assault on the rule of law.

We’ve been producing these elections for hundreds of years, and sometimes the consequences have been Shakespearean, like they were with Lincoln and FDR. But most of the time our elections have been nothing but a series of third-rate Marvel Comics productions. Think: “MAGA”, “Axis of Evil”, and “Government IS the problem”.

Donald Trump is Richard Nixon’s “long national nightmare” redux. The Democrats are running against a master marketer – not a master politician with differing policy views. His objective is to retain the throne at any cost. His policy prescriptions are nothing but the marketing nonsense that galvanizes his willfully ignorant base of supporters and gets them to rant and foam at the mouth at his rallies. He uses age-old rhetorical devices, such as red herring arguments, to distract us from the race. If we dethrone him and oust his party from power in 2020, he will be nothing but Richard III begging for a horse.

This is not about policy; this is nothing less than a fight to preserve democracy. How America got to be the hegemon of the world is an epic story. It has never been “a tale told by an idiot”. Whether our democracy simply withers away into irrelevance – into plutocracy – is what this election must be about, if we are to survive in the coming century.


Image: Richard III – Tristan Jeanne-Valès, Wikimedia Commons

Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc.  and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations.  If you find her perspectives interesting, controversial, or provocative, follow her at: