Minnich: Will we give up our special freedom now? 

Whatever your politics you must acknowledge that we are living in times that will have historic impact on the legacy of the United States of America. The daily chaos stirred by the press coverage and public reactions to the first president in history to keep on running for election even after the votes have been counted is tiresome but pay attention because it can no longer be taken for granted that your children and grandchildren will have the same rights of access to such information.

Ironically, if the essential freedom upon which all American history was built is lost, it will be those who consider themselves the most patriotic among us who allowed it to happen.


Democracy is predicated on the free exchange of information so that those who would lead us can be held accountable for their intentions and the consequences of their actions.

It’s a fairly simple notion. That pure and simple idea has been corrupted by those who believe it means that personal opinions are worth more than truths.

Free people are privileged to have personal interpretations of the priorities of values, but they are not entitled create their own truth. One of the most damaging concepts of recent history was born out of post modernism. When we began to accept the slogan that perception is truth, we began to ignore facts.

Another irony: Post modernism came from the left, and now the left is the target of those who embrace the idea that their opinions — perceptions — are the ultimate truths. Facts be damned.

Absolutists on the fringes, right and left, shout each other down, and simplicity is a weapon used to bludgeon rational discourse. We no longer talk to each other. We talk about the other, we talk past the other, we chant emotional slogans and empty platitudes to show solidarity with those who agree, but we learn nothing.

All of this creates the environment in which tyrants are created. To be a successful tyrant, all you need is someone or something to hate enough to stir up the emotions of a base. Not a majority, but enough numbers to create enough volume, obstructionist actions, and disarray to undermine the processes of democracy.

What the “new patriots” hate most are those whose ideas are perceived as a threat to traditions. If you convince a patriotic person that such disarray is part of a conspiracy to destroy democratic values, you can nudge them toward denying others the right to their own definitions of justice, fairness and the facts of their daily lives.

It comes down to whose definitions of justice and governance are most credible. The recipe for feeding the beast of dictatorship is to take advantage of distrust, fear, ignorance, anger and use that to discredit all information that does not justify a growing commitment to despair.

Old soldiers, patriots of past wars and upheaval both here and abroad, victims of social changes that may have been inevitable but inconvenient are easily enlisted in the defense of a status quo that has already disappeared.

A charismatic figure who can manipulate the emotions of the disaffected and dissemble facts that are not welcome can have a run at taking over a government — for a while.

But until now, American democracy, though tested mightily at the beginnings in squabbles between states rights advocates and federalists, and since between liberals and conservatives and all the other things that divide us has always worked things out, bringing the edges always toward the middle.

In the past, we as a population that valued our One Nationhood ultimately stood up to those whose greed for power and access to special privilege threatened the essential freedoms — the freedom to know, to read, to see, to speak, to vote not just for self interest but to ensure justice and the health of our country.

Are we ready to give that away?