Weep not for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and others who stood up to the extremists in the current election cycles. History will celebrate them and condemn the totalitarians they confronted.
They attempt to take over local school boards with conservative slates of candidates professing love for flag, God and apple pie and state and federal government offices with candidates who allege, without proof, that the 2020 election was stolen. The true heroes of the great American ideal of free and fair elections are most maligned by the apologists for a criminal conspiracy working to take democracy off the table.
Already, Republican operatives are pointing out that this country never really was a democracy; it was and is a republic. A pure democracy is the ideal, insofar as it permits everyone to participate, but a republic selects representatives to hold power in local, state and federal posts. The committee work of a democratic election is transformed into the interpretations of smaller groups of executives, some elected and many appointed.
It is that operative model that former President Donald Trump and his operatives are trying to take over in totality. You don’t need to have the most votes if you control how and who counts them. That is from the manual on how to wrest power from the masses to start a totalitarian, single-party, factional government.
Not all Republicans have turned into totalitarians in recent years, but the ruthlessness of those whose only ethic is to destroy dissent and reward subjugation has intimidated many whose work has been deemed too tolerant of liberal and collaborative definitions of American values and goals.
Fiddling with elections is nothing new. As much as we like to hold romantic notions of the purity of past leaders, there is substantial evidence that Abraham Lincoln won the presidency thanks to the sleight of hand of a political boss who essentially printed counterfeit passes for delegates to the national convention in New York who cast votes for Lincoln’s nomination to represent the party. You can look it up.
Germany attempted to swing the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt at a time when many Americans were more sympathetic to Hitler’s style of leadership than Roosevelt’s. Just this past week, there was the story from an insider that then-President Trump whined about his generals not being as tough and loyal as those under Hitler. Dictators require loyalty – or surrender – to stay in power.
Remember the saying, “Those who ignore history are condemned to relive it”?
Wonder what the story of America would be today if the apologists for the strong leadership of Nazism had won the election in the growing shadows of World War Two.
But we had brave citizens then, too, who were willing to go against the national populism of such heroes as aviator Charles Lindberg and a radio celebrity who was beloved by the staunch white Christian fundamentalists of the South and Midwest.
Racism was a factor and that fact was denied by the racists then, as now.
The term, “Fear of white racial decline” was used in an interview this past week by a sociologist asked to define motivation that could make otherwise decent people deny and denounce facts and turn a deaf ear to truth. It’s what makes school board candidates stoke fears of learning our true history toward Native Americans and the Black ancestors of today’s neighbors, who were enslaved and sold here like cattle.
In Wyoming, two days before the primary Tuesday, a local Republican said the issue with Liz Cheney was less about her politics than something you will hear in capsules of identity from small towns to city neighborhoods – the identification with tribe. The Wyoming voter said, “She’s not from here. She’s from Virginia, and she came here to run for office.”
Guilt and fear are the tools of those who value control (order) more than true human potential. History is full of attempts to halt the discovery of human potential. So far, it has not been destroyed.
Dean Minnich has been a columnist, editor and reporter who grew up in Carroll County. He published two volumes of columns and two of his three novels centered on small town life.