Insurrection Against Democracy

Author: Gary Hart

The Capitol, both Senate and House, is the place where laws are made by people elected by their constituents to do just that.  For those of us given the privilege of passing laws the two Chambers were, in a secular sense, hallowed places.  They were hallowed not by religious tradition but by human history.

It is often said that the United States and American democracy are an experiment.  And it is still so.  But the experiment is now almost 240 years old and it is still ongoing.  In 1776 we inherited a Republic if we “could keep it”, if we performed our duties of civic virtue, protected the commonwealth, respected popular sovereignty, and perhaps most important, resisted corruption.

Despite our terrible Civil War, recessions and depressions, racial struggles, and a continuing effort to enlarge our democracy inclusively, then came a period of reversion.  Up to 2016, democracy triumphed over adversity and conflict.

But then, a sweeping tide of nationalist populism and authoritarianism spread across the democratic world, including the United States.  It often employed code words such as “make America great again” and “there are good people on both sides”.

But beneath the benign cover up, undemocratic undercurrents were at work.  Covert recruitment of religious groups, racially biased organizations, authoritarian worshipers, right wing militias, and a welcome for any and all who harbored a grievance of one kind or another were all brought under the banner of “good people” regardless of their rejection of the democratic nature of the United States Government.

Our inclusiveness, so central to democratic government, tolerates sometimes deep differences of opinion, except when some opinions threaten the very nature of democracy…government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  That is the definition of popular sovereignty.  But “the people” includes women, minorities, liberal and conservative, different religious faiths, and much else that defines each of us as decent human beings.

What arrived in our government in 2016 was an attempt to reverse the steps to widen democracy beginning with equality for women, then economic justice, then racial inclusiveness, then humane immigration efforts, and much else.  The effort to “make America great again” was reversing much of this inclusive democratic progress, hard fought and hard won over decades.

It was and is nothing more nor less than an abandonment of social justice and an effort to reverse the achievements that did represent a greater America.

Then, in the next quadrennial national election, the leader of the effort to turn back American history and democracy lost. He claimed fraud fraudulently.  He refused to accept the verdict of the American people and peacefully transfer power.  Instead, he rallied the most extreme forces of retrenchment and directed them to overthrow the Constitutional process for declaring the transfer of power as it was being carried out in the nation’s Capitol.

He knew exactly what he was doing and the insurrectionist mob he summoned and directed knew exactly what he wanted them to do.  And they did their best to do it and lives were lost in one of the most infamous days in America’s history.

Rather than end this insurrection, it remains alive and hiding in plain sight.  American greatness must now be defined by a nationwide rejection of the forces of anti-democratic darkness.

If not, then it is bound to happen again.  For, we must “keep our Republic” every day.

3 Responses to “Insurrection Against Democracy”

  1. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:

    What we are experiencing today is the Grand Old Party of Abe Lincoln held hostage by the whims of an aging former reality television self- declared celebrity. The party of Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole, George HW Bush and John McCain has seized to exist.

    No longer will you see the likes of a Senators William Cohen, Richard Lugar, Howard Baker, Lincoln Chafee, Nancy Kassebaum, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel and Mark Hatfield who acted on principle above political ideology roaming the Capitol Halls. Not one Republican Senator in the current Congress could hold a candle to those who preceded them.

    Let us speak plainly. Not one Republican Senator or Representative for that matter has come forth with a viable plan to deal with the health, economic and social crisis that faces the Working-Class Americans in this country. Not one! Their only plan is to oppose any plan offered by the Biden Administration which might have a chance of success in dealing with a virulent virus, a shattered economy perpetuated by the incompetence of a former President who refused to take responsibility for his inaction in confronting reality. What can these current Republican Senator’s say? They either supported and were a party to his incompetence or stood silent and said nothing!

    With maybe a few exceptions these Republican Senators and Representatives are now held hostage by the fear of being primaried or subjected to threats of violence by militant supporters of their former leader. They have no clear path to any form of anything remotely resembling bipartisanship. They have been trapped by their own actions or inactions. These are the same people who passed a two trillion dollar plus tax cut package for the wealthy without a blink of the eye. Are these wealthy folks now suffering any real financial hardship in the current economic environment. I think not! Maybe an inconvenience when their essential workers succumb to Covid-19.

    You see we can afford to make millionaires richer during this pandemic than to meet the needs of working-class folks who have suffered the most during this time.
    The same Republicans who are telling you the economy is in recovery and the virus is on the run are the same folks who told you the war in Iraq was over on May 1, 2003!

    The same Republicans telling you that the American Rescue Plan spending has little to do with Covid-19 are the same folks who allowed billions of dollars from the CARES ACT of March 2020 to be siphoned off to corporate interests of Trump supporters for dubious ventures!

    The truth is the devastation caused by the ineptitude and neglect by the Trump Administration and Republicans in general in managing this pandemic has wreaked havoc with our economy and our social well being and placed an unnecessary burden on our schools, state and local government resources beyond belief. Something Republican Senators and Representatives don’t want to talk about. Spare me your hypocrisy Senator Moran, Marshall and Representatives Estes, Tracey Mann, and Jake La Turner!

    Republican politicians nationwide are not capable of bipartisanship until they can denounce the BIG LIE about the 2020 Presidential election and swear allegiance to the well-being of their country and constituents ahead of political idolatry! There is bipartisanship support of the American Rescue Plan across this country but not in the Halls of Congress! All of us are being held hostage to this inability of this Congress to function constructively and as it was designed! For your information there is nothing in the Constitution to validate the concept of a filibuster!

  2. Stephen D. Pillow Says:


    Thank you for the wonderful commentary. Unfortunately there are also damned few shining stars among the Democratic Senators and Representatives, with the notable exceptions of the newer non-white members elected in 2018 and 2020.The leadership of both houses is mired in the old ways of operation and will not serve us well with the current Republican membership. They must do away with the filibuster and get to doing the people’s business, instead of business as usual.

  3. Lorenzo Cherin Says:

    The article tone and comments are understandable.

    In the UK I too, crave a better attitude and greater bipartisanship.

    But it is hard to agree about things few or not enough agree on!

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