Ripe for Tyranny

The current American election cycle is equal parts baffling, depressing, terrifying, and embarrassing. "What is wrong with the electorate?" and "Where are all the statesmen and women?" I've asked time and time again. This article from the NYTimes on Condorcet's Paradox and Arrow's Impossibility Theorem makes me feel better -- "maybe the Republican primary results say less about the desires of Republican voters than they do about the tensions inherent in groups of people deciding what to do" -- and this one from NYMag on "end democracy" makes me feel much, much worse. Sullivan says:

"To call this fascism doesn't do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. This is a Weimar aspect of our current moment."

And what's worse, it shouldn't be surprising to any of us. American "liberals" of various stripes have rallied around women's right, "black lives," gays, and the politically correct. We've seemingly forgotten about large swathes of the population, namely, the white working class:

"For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome... much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well... and so they wait, and they steam, and they lash out. This was part of the emotional force of the Tea Party: not just the advancement of racial minorities, gays, and women but the simultaneous demonization of the white working-class world, its culture and way of life."

Sullivan tells us that to protect democracy from its own destabilizing excesses, we need the elites to step up. I agree. He also reminds us that we had it coming: "An American elite that has presided over massive and increasing public debt, that failed to prevent 9/11, that chose a disastrous war in the Middle East, that allowed financial markets to nearly destroy the global economy, and that is now so bitterly divided the Congress is effectively moot in a constitutional democracy: 'We Respectables' deserve a comeuppance. The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force." And it's terrifying.