Freedom breeds complacency. Ignorance breeds contempt for knowledge. Opinion shaped by slogan rather than critical thinking is no substitute for fact. And right around now facts are as malleable as carnival taffy. The ringmaster of the circus that has become American politics has stoked the flames of destruction and whipped his adoring sycophants into a frenzied pitch.
His attack on civility, derisively called political correctness, has made public discourse indistinguishable from the infamous locker room talk that heralded his ascendence. His appeal to the ugly side of America -- and there has always been an ugly side -- has made a mockery of those lofty sentiments that appear in the Constitution. He has rendered racial hatred, misogyny and xenophobia fashionable, reigniting the White Man's Burden to wipe out or subjugate as many people who fit the description of "other" as possible.
He has ignored the rule of law, collaborated with our enemies, and propagated so many lies that he can truly be considered the father of Fake News. He has instigated a distrust of any agency or institution not seen to do his bidding -- the intelligence agencies, the Attorney General, the Congress, no one and nothing is off limits. Not even the Constitutionally mandated separation of powers, or the oversight obligations of the legislative branch.
And he has been allowed to commit these atrocities unchecked by the very people entrusted to keep him in check. Never mind his fellow Republicans who tsk-tsk at his latest outrage, then quietly look away.
The fragility of democracy cannot endure such an onslaught for long. When a third of the population is under thrall of such a despot, and the other two-thirds fail to act, democracies fall and dictatorships rise.
Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney/ fixer/ bag man/ co-conspirator of 10 years, made an interesting comment a few months ago. He said that if Trump were removed from office, he wouldn't leave. Think about that for a moment. This man who has known Trump, probably as well as anyone, believes that if impeached or hell, perhaps even if he's ousted from office the old fashioned way and fails to win re-election, he won't go.
I can almost see the tweets flying fast and furious from the West Wing, exhorting his followers to challenge the rigged election system, or the witch-hunt aimed at taking down their rightful leader. And what will Congress do then? Probably the same thing they've been doing. Nothing.
Who would stop such a coup? The generals? The Joint Chiefs of Staff? I suspect they are as divided as the rest of the country when it comes to allegiance to or hatred of that Trump Chump.
The Supreme Court? All we have to do is look at what that august body did the last time the fate of the presidency was at stake to predict that outcome. Nothing. They punted, and why not? Who wants to test the limits of their power only to learn that in fact they have none?
If the Court issued an unpopular decree, who would enforce it? Only the National Guard (ala Alabama in the '60s) or the regular military (although until recent events at our southern border, it was frowned upon to deploy the military on U.S. soil). And I wouldn't count on either of them upholding an edict with which their leaders disagreed.
Would a small cadre of generals corner Trump in the Oval Office and "convince" him to vacate rather than suffer a Julius Caesar-type downfall? I wouldn't bet on it. I think a more likely scenario is that while we would have mass revolt in the streets, the machinery of our democracy would lie idle, waiting for Trump to see reason, which he apparently lacks the ability to do.
And if Trump steadfastly refused to leave the White House, the powers remaining would accommodate him, once again, while the people commenced to tear this country down from the bottom up. Of course, at some point the military would have to take over to restore the civil peace -- ordered into the streets by their commander in chief.
This is how a democracy dies. And while Trump may be the man to whom history will point as the instigator of that downfall, all those who shrugged their duty in the face of political expediency will be just as guilty.