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Community Perspective

We don’t have a democracy in the U.S.

With only two weeks left of President Trump’s term in office, we witnessed just how far he is willing to go to hold onto presidential power. For weeks he has gathered his ragtag army of white supremacists, Proud Boys and QAnon radicals to assault the Capitol during a joint session of Congress. Several people died and lawmakers and staff were put in fear of their lives. And yet even after this unprecedented spectacle, eight Republican senators and 100 House Republicans continued to support the unfounded lies about voter fraud. A significant number of people are still taken in by their unfounded lies about the election.

The right-wing media and Republican Party have propagandized fear of democratic socialism and more liberal ideas. Rather than analyzing the choices available to resolve complex issues, they pick a spin that fulfills the desire to demonize any solution that requires majority rule government intervention. Fox and other right-wing media outlets feed the natural tendencies of their conservative audience to believe conspiracy theories because it supports the desires of their wealthy owners, the Republican Party, and their corporate sponsors’, anti-government agenda. That is not to say that some of the criticism is not justified, but to lay blame for all our problems on the more liberal minded Americans is ridiculous.

I am not optimistic about our country’s future, primarily because of our inability to face one overriding problem, democracy, or more to the point, the lack of democracy. But more about that later.

At the forefront of the conservative Republican agenda has been the denial of global warming and the economic inequality in America. But global warming is now accepted by most Americans as fact and because of recent weather-related catastrophes we are ready to act to curb it. To reduce our contribution to green-house gasses when we also require our consumption of goods and services, (GNP), to expand annually by 2% to 3% to meet corporate growth needs is not possible. That means extraction of resources, fossil fuels, metals, plastics, renewable resources, etc., must double every 20 to 40 years. New scientific breakthroughs like the lab growth of meat protein that will make obsolete much of our present farm operations will face strong Republican opposition but would reduce C02 emissions by over 30%. Scientific development of less-polluting forms of energy may become available but will also face a strong effort by corporations to hold onto fossil fuels. That is because change is the enemy of corporate profits.

Wealth inequality has fueled excess consumption. It hasn’t always been this way. After World War II, distribution of wealth was much less concentrated at the top. Since then, the share of the 90 % of Americans has diminished significantly. Almost 70% of all wealth in the USA is now concentrated in the top 10% of our population. Why has this happened? It has happened because the Republican Party has collaborated with corporations, the top 10%, Midwest agricultural interests, and the religious right to maintain minority rule in the United States. They buy influence in our government through their lobby effort and their political action committees to get favorable tax laws and to weaken regulation. Worst of all, they have used media propaganda to convince many people that their own government is the enemy and not a means to a solution.

Even when they lose an election as they did in November, some Republicans continue to suppress democracy in an attempt to hold onto power. This is the Republican Party today. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and many other Republicans are still trying to steal power back. It appears that the radical Republicans were defeated this time because some Republicans have said enough is enough of Donald Trump. But what about next time? Are we prepared for another Donald Trump?

And that brings us back to that main problem that I mentioned. Republicans and their collaborators have managed to control our government much of the last four decades because we do not have democracy in the USA. Almost all of the popular votes in presidential elections have been won by the Democrats, but our republic form of government and the Electoral College gives extra weight to the wealthier and more powerful interests, so we end up with Republican minority rule. Our divided society will not change and will continue to decline if we do not truly embrace one person, one vote and kick out the influence of the wealthy and corporations in our government. A truly democratic government of the people and by the people or illiberal democracy controlled by the wealthy and corporations — which would you choose?

Ed Linkous lives in Fairbanks. He served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly from 1987 to 1989.

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