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Peter Jensen: Want to save democracy? There ought to be an app for that. | COMMENTARY

Members of the Oath Keepers on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. The District of Columbia has filed a civil lawsuit seeking harsh financial penalties against far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Members of the Oath Keepers on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. The District of Columbia has filed a civil lawsuit seeking harsh financial penalties against far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Now is the winter of my discontent.

Actually, no, that’s a bit over-the-top, but quoting William Shakespeare always gives a thought heft, doesn’t it? It’s really the winter of my persistent anxiety. And Richard III never had to deal with QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Donald Trump really won the 2020 presidential election. Even the London plague of the Shakespeare era (15,000 dead!) seems downright quaint compared to the more robust and fast-spreading COVID-19 omicron variant. Egads, hast thou been thrice bled by the leeches to discharge thy bad humours? So it hath been mandated by the crown and ye olde Globe Theatre.

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Anyway, here’s my problem. First, I can’t figure out my new smartphone. It’s obviously much smarter than I am. Second, my annual end-of-year financial review has drawn me to the inescapable conclusion that I don’t have much in the way of finances. Third, and I’ll admit this is somewhat less me-oriented, our democracy seems to be headed straight to hell. And not in a good way. One year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe democracy “in crisis and at risk of failing,” according to a recent Ipsos/NPR poll. Apparently, any attempt to seize power by attacking the center of the nation’s legislative branch at the direction of the White House to reverse a reelection loss is seen as troubling by a lot of folks. Go figure.

So how can I save the republic while simultaneously making money and upgrading my cell service? Could there be a challenge more third decade of the 21st century than that combination? Fortunately, there’s an app for that. At least there should be.

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Here’s what I’m proposing. The following five suggestions are potential cellphones applications that could address the crisis in democracy and enhance my life. The only thing I’m missing are the skills to write the code (to paraphrase the bard: The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, is mine in great revenue), and then to market the apps and let the revenue pour in. I’m not looking to get Elizabeth Holmes-level rich (or convicted of fraud) but I would settle for a piece of the digital action. So here, in no particular order, are my ideas:

1. Fox Insider Call. Sure, you can watch Fox News and get the usual diatribes against the evil liberals, but if you really want to know what the network’s most influential hosts honestly think when not on camera, you either have to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff or download this app. Want to get the same kind of frantic (but sincere) texts that Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade dispatched to the White House on Jan. 6 urging an end to the Capitol attack (”This is hurting all of us … he is destroying his legacy,” Ms. Ingraham texted)? Or do you prefer the less genuine stuff they shovel when the cameras are rolling?

2. Warning: Vigilante Ahead. One thing the Capitol prosecutions have produced is a long list of what Shakespeare might describe as “idiots” (Hey, that’s a Macbeth reference), who belong to Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys and other extremist groups that might generously be described as domestic terrorists. After they serve their community service or all-too-brief jail time, how can we avoid them? Those not dressed as a shaman, that is. Aha, the app uses their cellphones like transponders and warns you when you are nearing a former Jan. 6 defendant. Confederate flag bumper stickers are also useful in this regard.

3. Election Fact Check. One of the challenges of dealing with insurrectionists is that they keep making stuff up. One day the election results are the result of an elaborate international communist plot, the next it’s George Soros’ meddling. Who can keep track of such lunacy? At the press of a button, the app would clearly and unequivocally explain how Joe Biden won in 2020 and there was no widespread fraud. The trick will be to get Trump supporters to actually listen.

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4. Dad, Stop This Nonsense. This should be fairly straightforward. Based on the recent revelation that Ivanka Trump was among those who sought to have her father intervene on Jan. 6, the app would feature a calm, rational woman’s voice simply telling the listener to cut the crap. It doesn’t even have to be about the insurrection. You don’t have to be King Lear or even a Republican to appreciate a daughter’s plea for sanity. You think Chelsea Clinton wouldn’t have found this useful back in the day?

5. Social Media Meltdown. Who did not rejoice at news that Twitter has permanently suspended the vile Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal account for spreading COVID-19 misinformation? But Twitter and other social media platforms are too slow to pull the plug (Facebook blocked her for a measly 24 hours for lying about coronavirus). Let’s make cellphones immediately fry to a crisp when the users persist with especially blatant and destructive falsehoods. It gives a whole new meaning to the term, “burner phone,” and is a Trump branding opportunity for asbestos-lined pockets.

Peter Jensen is an editorial writer at The Sun; he can be reached at pejensen@baltsun.com.

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