Originally Published: February 7, 2018 5:52 a.m.
How does a democracy die these days?
Not by tanks and armies in the streets, but by those we elect making it more difficult to vote and changing the courts to carry out their own agendas and limiting public rights in state legislatures. By allowing the rich and powerful to buy Congress — to buy changes in laws that work for them, not for the ordinary people. By getting rid of the free press and the truth. By diminishing public education for those who can’t afford private schools and making sure the schools that are left are limited in what they teach.
It’s a slow and deliberate process, hardly noticeable in our day-to-day lives. We think our Constitution and our laws protect us from dictatorship, but much of what protects us is our idea, our perception of democracy and how we, as people, are willing to stand up for it.
The destruction of that idea comes about state-by-state. Take the weakest ones first and move outward. Punish the strongest ones for holding out on their democratic and humane ideals until people give in, and the whole system crumbles. That’s how a democracy dies these days, with an insidious, creeping cancer.
Can it happen in America? You betcha.