Sat 8 Jan 2022 06.09 EST
The lie that the election was ‘stolen’ from Trump is building its monuments in ludicrous stories, and codifying them in laws to make the next elections easier to pilfer
American democracy is in peril and nearly everyone paying attention is trying to find the best way to say so. Should we in the intellectual classes position our warnings in satire, in jeremiads, in social scientific data, in historical analogy, in philosophical wisdom we glean from so many who have instructed us about the violence and authoritarianism of the 20th century? Or should we just scream after our holiday naps?
Some of us pick up our pens and do what we can. We quote wise scribes such as George Orwell on how there may be a latent fascist waiting to emerge in all humans, or Hannah Arendt on how democracies are inherently unstable and susceptible to ruin by aggressive, skilled demagogues. We turn to Alexis de Tocqueville for his stunning insights into American individualism while we love to believe his claims that democracy would create greater equality. And oh! how we love Walt Whitman’s fabulously open, infinite democratic spirit. We inhale Whitman’s verses and are captured by the hypnotic power of democracy. “O Democracy, for you, for you I am trilling these songs,” wrote our most exuberant democrat.