“But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step…” American Pie lyrics
They say a country doesn’t know the day a democracy dies. But I think in this case we do. Because this week democracy died in our country. Its death began patiently decades ago but we didn’t notice. Its final unraveling though came in with the roar, “Lock her up,” and left with barely a whisper while tens of thousands witnessed the deaths of loved ones.
When an authoritarian regime comes in and causes the death of a democracy, many expect a loud appearance. But that’s not how this one happened. It came in incrementally, step by designed step. It wasn’t just the lack of oversight and accountability by the House and Senate, although that certainly didn’t help. We’ve seen that before, although not to the level it is today. It wasn’t even the realization that we had lost the integrity of the Supreme Court and the Justice Department, although that certainly didn’t help. And it wasn’t the fact that all three branches of government had fallen in line with trump and his desire to be in total control, although that didn’t help either. Witnessing the well crafted checks and balances fall apart and become impotent to hold up as they were intended didn’t leave me totally without hope either (although it should have). No, it was something unexpected and to be honest I don’t think many Republicans even fully realized the depth of what was happening. But maybe I’m letting them off too easy.
For me, the death of our democracy was evident when masks and life saving supplies were taken by the federal government and not distributed to the states. It was when nurses needed to stand up against our own citizens who, as armed terrorists, threatened the health and well being of every citizen in our country as well as our health care system. That, to me, were the days democracy finally took its last breath and died in the United States of America. We ask ourselves, “What democratic government, which claims to be by the people and for the people would do that?” None. Absolutely none.
So while we argue over opening up our states when we don’t even allow testing kits to be distributed in the numbers needed to prevent deaths and despair, and we argue over who constitutes a life worth saving, we will come to realize that we have truly lost something quite special and worth saving.
And we will grieve this loss for a long long time.
PS – Will we do what is needed to resuscitate it and bring it back? I surely hope so.