This is how fascism comes to America

 Sen. Joseph McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with Roy Cohn, his chief counsel, during a committee hearing on April 26, 1954, in Washington. | AP Photo

Sen. Joseph McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with Roy Cohn, his chief counsel, during a committee hearing on April 26, 1954, in Washington. | AP Photo

Source: Washington Post

Author:Robert Kagan

Emphasis Mine

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post.

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as anyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death.

In such an environment, every political figure confronts a stark choice: Get right with the leader and his mass following or get run over. The human race in such circumstances breaks down into predictable categories — and democratic politicians are the most predictable. There are those whose ambition leads them to jump on the bandwagon. They praise the leader’s incoherent speeches as the beginning of wisdom, hoping he will reward them with a plum post in the new order. There are those who merely hope to survive. Their consciences won’t let them curry favor so shamelessly, so they mumble their pledges of support, like the victims in Stalin’s show trials, perhaps not realizing that the leader and his followers will get them in the end anyway.

A great number will simply kid themselves, refusing to admit that something very different from the usual politics is afoot. Let the storm pass, they insist, and then we can pick up the pieces, rebuild and get back to normal. Meanwhile, don’t alienate the leader’s mass following. After all, they are voters and will need to be brought back into the fold. As for Trump himself, let’s shape him, advise him, steer him in the right direction and, not incidentally, save our political skins.

What these people do not or will not see is that, once in power, Trump will owe them and their party nothing. He will have ridden to power despite the party, catapulted into the White House by a mass following devoted only to him. By then that following will have grown dramatically. Today, less than 5 percent of eligible voters have voted for Trump. But if he wins the election, his legions will likely comprise a majority of the nation. Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that lay down before him even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, aphony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.


Conservative David Frum Perfectly Explains How the Disintegration of the GOP Has Created Trump

David Frum unravels how rot within the GOP allowed Donald to break norms of behavior democracy needs to function.


Author: Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

The Trump phenomenon is presenting Republicans with one of those once in a lifetime gut checksdo you fall in line behind someone who is obviously unfit for the office of president or do you tell the truth as you see it and risk the disapprobation of your peers and the possible banishment to political Siberia? Even though the truth of the matter is obvious, I don’t think it’s fair to say that it would be easy for anyone. To lose your place in the political ecosystem can be emotionally painful and professional very risky. The path of least resistance is to go with the flow. If Trump loses you will have a lot of company. If he wins, well, you’ll have to live with your own conscience as to the consequences. But either way, the people who stood against him will always be resented for their courage by those who went along.

There are mainstream Republicans who are opting out, more than people may realize. The Stop Trump Movement boasts some major players in the GOP scene, people like Mitt Romney, George Will, Erick Erickson, David Brooks and Glenn Beck to name just a few. Some are attempting to salvage their futures by contending that Trump is unacceptable only because he is a traitor to conservatism, which he is in some ways although that is hardly the primary case against him. The more valiant among them take the threat of Trump seriously and are willing to admit the truth, such as Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal who told Fareed Zakaria over the weekend:

“I most certainly will not vote for Donald Trump. I will vote for the least left wing opponent to Donald Trump and I will want to make a vote that will make sure he is the biggest loser in presidential history since Alf Landon or going back further. It’s important that Donald Trump and what he represents, this ‘ethnic conservatism or populism’ be so decisively rebuked that the Republican party and Republican voters will forever learn their lesson that they cannot nominate a man so manifestly unqualified to be president in any way shape or form.”

Stephens is a traditional ideological conservative who could rail against Trump’s defense of Social Security or his anti-free trade tirades if he chose to. But except for a passing reference to “populism” Stephens indicts Trump on the right grounds: his manifest unfitness for the job. Finally, here’s something that

liberals and conservatives can agree upon.

There are a few conservatives who saw the disintegration of their party coming for quite a while, notably conservative writer and former Bush speechwriter David Frum who has been committing apostasy for several years now. He wrote a thought-provoking piece for The Atlantic this week in which he documents how Donald Trump has broken seven standards and norms of behavior that make it possible for democracy to function.

The first broken norm is the most obvious. The idea that America’s presidents should behave with maturity and self-restraint is a standard that most of us take for granted. Sure, they have all had different personalities but basic respect for the office and basic civility has been a given. For instance, presidential candidates have not, up until now, called their rivals pussies on the stump. Frum refers to Mitt Romney’s righteous rant against Trump from several months ago in which he said, “think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics…” That’s Trump to a T. And until now that would not have been a constellation of personality characteristics that one would think of as presidential.

He next points out Trump’s unusual untrustworthiness making a very important point in the process. He notes that the GOP base holds establishment leaders in contempt for their alleged failure to fulfill the mandate they were given when they won a majority in the two midterm elections. Frum writes:

“As one unfriendly critic noted, the Republican rank-and-file weren’t exactly innocent victims of elite deception. Republican voters … wanted everything, and, after all, GOP leaders promised them that it was possible—even though those same leaders knew it was not.

Place the blame for that failure where you will, however, the results were glaring: radical Republican rejection of the trustworthiness of their leaders—all their leaders.What, then, was one liar more—especially if that liar were more exciting than the others, more willing to say at least some of the things that Republicans wanted said?”

They are responding to a man who says:

“Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing. I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”

The next norm that’s been broken is “the expectation that a potential president should possess deep—or at least adequate—knowledge of public affairs.” It goes without saying that Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination proves that this is no longer considered necessary by a majority of Republican voters. He is, as was pointed out above, manifestly unqualified and has absolutely no intention of learning anything because he doesn’t need to.

Frum next points out that the Republican ideological standard has completely evaporated which is of greater concern for conservatives than the rest of us but his analysis of how this happened is quite interesting:

“The ideology guardrail snapped because so much of the ideology itself had long since ceased to be relevant to the lives of so many Republican primary voters. Instead of a political program, conservatism had become an individual identity. What this meant, for politicians, was that the measure of your ‘conservatism’ stopped being the measures you passed in office—and became much more a matter of style, affect, and manner.”

No one exemplified this better than Frum’s old boss George W. Bush, the man everyone celebrated as presidential perfection because he was the kind of guy you wanted to have a beer with. But Trump has proved that ideology no longer matters at all to most Republicans, which does come as something of a surprise. Even the social conservatives seem to have completely given up the ghost.

Another shattered norm, and it’s a big one, is the blithe acceptance of Trump’s total lack of coherent national security worldview. The fact that he is not a familiar neocon or a practitioner of Real Politic would be disorienting for Republicans regardless, but calling his turn to belligerent nationalism “America First” is downright hallucinatory.

Frum believes Trump has broken the norm against intolerance and it’s true that his crusade against “political correctness” and the open racism and religious bigotry are at levels we haven’t seen in decades. After surveying all the data which shows that the white ethnic tribalism we’re seeing on the right at the moment is a result of backlash against changing demographics, he writes:

“Trump is running not to be president of all Americans, but to be the clan leader of white Americans. Those white Americans who respond to his message hear his abusive comments, not as evidence of his unfitness for office, but as proof of his commitment to their tribe.”

Finally, Frum bemoans the harsh partisanship that leads otherwise normal people like Marco Rubio, after having denounced Trump for months as a vulgar con man, cozy up to Trump using the ludicrous rationale that he’s “even more scared about her [Clinton] being in control of the U.S. government.” That’s ridiculous and on some level Rubio knows this. Clinton is fully in the mainstream of American politics along with Barack Obama, both Bushes and Bill Clinton. Trump is not. But as is their wont, the right wing is projecting their own extreme deviation from the norm on to their opposition and their leaders are dutifully following along.

Frum’s trying to figure all this out and he’s digging deeply to do it. In fact, he’s been doing this for some time as one of the few insiders who have been clear-eyed about the destruction of the conservative movement and the Republican Party over the past few years even before the appearance of Donald Trump. And he’s right about all of this. This disconcerting breaking of the norms that make democratic governance possible has reached a critical stage.

What started with the cynical propaganda projects of Newt Gingrich to the ’90s witchhunts and the dubious tactics of the long election of 2000 metastasized into the Tea Party which was born out of a belief that Barack Obama was an illegitimate president and anything he proposed was therefore invalid. Donald Trump was in the middle of that as the King of the Birthers, the man who mainstreamed the formerly fringe conspiracy theory that the president wasn’t born in America. And now that man is the Republican nominee for president.

In order for democracy to function you cannot depend entirely on the laws to enforce it. It requires a common understanding and acceptance of the rules and norms developed over a long period that guarantee a certain level of civilized interaction. We’re losing them and the consequences could be very serious. Trump may lose this election and there will be some kind of reset. But even if he does, these rules and norms are very difficult to put back in place once they’ve been tossed aside. It may not happen, which raises the rather chilling question of what will be left in his wake.”

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.




Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican Party Is a Threat to Human Survival

Sanders has the best policies; GOP must be stopped at all costs.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Susan Lazare

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: Democracy itself is at risk in the 2016 US Election.)

Renowned scholar and activist Noam Chomsky declared this week that the GOP and its far-right front-runners are “literally a serious danger to decent human survival.”

Speaking with The Huffington Post on Monday, Chomsky cited the Republican Party’s refusal to tackle—or even acknowledge—the “looming environmental catastrophe” of climate change, thereby “dooming our grandchildren.”

He went to rebuke the Republican party for its “abject service to private wealth and power” and dispossession of the poor.

But Chomsky made it clear that his conviction that “the Republican Party has drifted off the rails” and must be stopped by no means amounts to an endorsement of Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton—who he has previously criticized as hawkish and opportunistic.

In fact, he told The Huffington Post that the United States has what amounts to a one-party system—with both Democrats and Republicans united by business interests. Yet, within those parameters, he argued, small differences do matter, given the immense power of the American political system.

And Senator Bernie Sanders, Chomsky recently told Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera’s UpFront show, “would–of the current candidates–be the one who would have, from my point of view, the best policies.”

“I agree with him in a lot of things, not in other things,” Chomsky said, calling him “basically a new dealer.”

“I frankly think that in our system of mainly bought elections, he doesn’t have much of a chance,” he continued. However, recent polling in early primary states bodes well for Sanders, and one survey found him more electable than Clinton when matched against Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.

Whatever happens, Chomsky told Hasan, he plans to strategically vote against the GOP, which he says wants to “destroy the world.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, Sarah co-edited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.



Why America’s Inequality Problem Is About a Lot More Than Money

We have chosen our extreme inequality and all of its awful consequences.

Source: AlterNet

Author: David Kay Johnson

Emphasis Mine 

Inequality is about much more than the growing chasm of income and wealth between those at the very top and everyone else in America. It’s also about education, environmental hazards, health and health care, incarceration, law enforcement, wage theft and policies that interfere with family life over multiple generations.

In its full dimensions, inequality shapes, distorts and destroys lives in ways that get little attention from politicians and major news organizations. How many of us know that every day 47 American babies die, who would live if only our nation had the much better infant mortality rates of Sweden?

“Poverty is not natural,” Nelson Mandela once said. “It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

The man-made disparities between the rich and the poor are a threat to the liberties of the people. Plutarch, the Greco-Roman historian, observed more than 2000 years ago that, “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

For more than two decades I have been documenting the widening gaps in income and wealth in America in articles, books and essays. My first few years of reports in the New York Times drew complaints from some readers who asserted I had no idea what I was doing and skepticism from more than a few editors. But I felt confident because the trends I distilled from the official data were clear and because the fine print in government rules — which few journalists ever read — revealed that Congress was creating a system that takes from the many to give to the already rich few.

While the passage of time has shown that I was right, I must confess I paid scant attention to something else very important: disparities in wealth and income are primarily symptoms of a insidious social disease. This is a national ailment we can cure, but only if we first understand the broad dimensions of the problem. With knowledge comes insight, focus and the power to effect change.

To make up for my own shortcoming I spent a very useful, if unprofitable year putting together a collection of essays on the broad dimensions of inequality and the terrible toll it takes on human lives. From stacks of books, academic papers and blogs I created an anthology for a little nonprofit publisher called The New Press, founded by the late André Schiffrin, one of the most important book publishers ever.

DIVIDED: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality comes out in paperback this week. My hope is that college professors and even high school teachers will use it to introduce young people to the full nature of inequality and what we can do to reduce it.

“American inequality didn’t just happen – it was created,” wrote Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is among the 44 contributors. Their brief essays are intended to reduce a complex problem to easily digested pieces, all written in plain English.

Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Barbara Ehrenreich, Paul Krugman, Steelworkers leader Leo Gerard, journalists Gary Rivlin and Neil deMause and scholars who are highly regarded in their fields like epidemiologist Ernest Drucker, education theorists Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford and Mike Rose of UCLA, as well as physicians Olveen Carrasquillo, Mary E. O’Brien and Stephen Bezruchka are among the deeply informed who contributed chapters. Insights also come from the past: Plato, Adam Smith, Studs Terkel, the 19th-century reformer Henry George and the American president who called out “malefactors of great wealth,” Teddy Roosevelt.

Part of the problem with inequality is that our culture and our intellectual constructs obscure simple, verifiable facts. And those who benefit from inequality pay others to confuse us.

Biased to the Rich

Moshe Adler, who teaches economics at Columbia University, provided a chapter called “How Economics Is Biased Toward the Rich.”

Even people who have never taken an economics course can learn from Adler how neo-classical economics favors the haves over the have-not-enoughs.

What Adler shows certainly is not what I was taught between 1967 and 1975 when I studied economics and public policy at seven colleges including our most influential center for manufacturing economic policy, the University of Chicago. At best, suggestions of bias in economic theory got lip service.

The ways in which race impedes access to health care in America and the price of our “medical apartheid” are explained by Dr. Carrasquillo and by Jaime Torres, who founded Latinos for National Health Insurance, which advocates for a single-payer health care system.

Education is equally infected with discrimination, as Stanford University professor sean f. reardon (who does not use capital letters in his name) explains in a chapter called “No Rich Child Left Behind.”

In the last few decades, reardon shows, “differences in educational success between high-and lower-income students have grown substantially,” a disparity that those who are willfully blind to inequality try to explain away with clever arguments and by abusing the data.

Unable to find what I wanted about two issues, I wrote the chapters.

One asks why married men are not in the forefront of demanding equal pay for women, since most of them have working wives. Nonprofit tax filings show that gender discrimination in pay in the same position is not only verifiable, but gets progressively worse as organizations grow in size.

The other chapter puts in simple language the painful cost of our inefficient non-system of sick care versus a modern health care system.

America could have eliminated the federal income tax in 2010 if we had spent the same and much smaller share of our economy on health care as France and Germany. Those countries provide very different systems, but both provide universal care and are among the best in the world.

The next time you look at your paycheck, think about what could be if we had a universal, single-payer health care system providing top-quality care with little or no out-of-pocket expense. You could have kept all the income taxes you paid in 2012. Today we could end the income tax for all except the top 2 percent just from reducing health care costs.

Let’s Face the Music

The awful truth is this: Americans have chosen our extreme inequality and all of its awful consequences in the politicians we elected in the last 35 years. We can make better choices, not that it will be easy, but then nothing that really matters ever is.

Presidents John Adams and James Madison (the primary author of our Constitution) warned us that what would doom our experiment in democracy was not a foreign invader, but economic inequality and its consequences.

Adams, living in an agrarian age, feared that “monopolies of land” would destroy the nation. He foresaw a business aristocracy born of inequality and legions of workers with no assets who just lived on their wages. The business aristocrats, he predicted, would manipulate voters, creating “a system of subordination to all… [by] the capricious will of one or a very few.”

Adams also warned that “the rich and the proud” would wield such economic and political power that it “will destroy all the equality and liberty, with the consent and acclamations of the people themselves.”

Madison thought extreme inequality evil, saying government should prevent “an immoderate, and especially unmerited, accumulation of riches.” He favored “the silent operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigents towards a state of comfort.”

Even Alexander Hamilton, who championed business while serving as the first Treasury secretary, said in 1782 that widespread ownership of assets was crucial because “whenever a discretionary power is lodged in any set of men over the property of their neighbors, they will abuse it.”

We live in the second American Republic under a Constitution adopted to ensure the power to tax and regulate commerce. It is based on six noble principles listed in the preamble including the duty of government to “promote the general Welfare.” (That capital W is in the original.)

We can choose better. Indeed, we can solve any problem we have if we choose to and do the work. We got rid of slavery (at a cost of at least 638,000 lives). Women got the right to vote after eight decades of struggle. More than a century ago we got child labor laws despite the clergymen who fought against them. We won, but are now losing, worker protection laws, a woman’s right to control her body and reliable pensions.

Understanding is the first step toward change, toward moving closer to our ideals of liberty, equality and happiness. I created Divided so we could understand where we are and how we got here. That knowledge can then empower us to make a better America.


V I C T O R Y !

“This Was A Big Win

By Tom Hayden

Progressives For Obama March 24, 2010

This is not the time for progressives to mourn the defeat of single-payer or the public option, it is the time to cheer the health care victory as an important victory and prepare to stop the right-wing in their tracks and discredit their religion of market

fundamentalism. It’s the time to push further against that same fundamentalism by demanding such reforms as regulation of Wall Street and a rollback of the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance – all before the November election.

We did not achieve what was politically-impossible, Medicare for All. Insurance companies and Big Pharma will benefit from the health care legislation, but the Machiavellians always get their pound of flesh in exchange for conceding reform. We added new health protections for millions of Americans, opened possibilities for further health reforms, and avoided the beginning of the end of the Obama era, which frankly is what the unified right-wing is still trying to bring about.

It is the nature of social movements to fragment and decline when they achieve victories which fall short of their hopes and dreams. It is the nature of counter-movements to become more dangerous and unified when they feel threatened with decline.

There is plenty of analysis of how the public came out ahead in this final package despite all its flaws and chicanery. Let me add one fundamental point no one has mentioned:

Passage of a trillion-dollar health care package means a trillion dollars not available to the Pentagon for their long war.

In his book making the case for the US as a modern Goliath, the conservative political philosopher Michael Mandelbaum wrote of his fear that Sixties social programs will undermine the appetite and resources for empire, which he described as an American “world government.” [MM, The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government for the 21st Century, Public Affairs, 2005]”Democracy [will] favor butter over guns”, Mandelbaum worried. As programs like health care expand and social security cutbacks are fought, “it will become increasingly difficult for the foreign policy elite to persuade the wider public to support the kinds of policies that, collectively, make up the American role as the world’s government. Foreign policy will be relegated to the back burner”, he groused.  We have no moral right or even competence to be “the world’s government”, of course. The more we invest in our domestic needs – health care, schools and universities, environmental restoration, green jobs – the more unsustainable become trillion-dollar wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond. The seeds of an alternative foreign policy lie in building an alternative domestic one. #

[Tom Hayden, a former California state senator, is the author, most recently, of The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama (Paradigm).

Senator Tom Hayden, the Nation Institute’s Carey McWilliams Fellow, has played an active role in American politics and history for over three decades, beginning with the student, civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s.  Hayden was elected to the California State Legislature in 1982, where he served for ten years in the Assembly before being elected to the State Senate in 1992, where he served eight years.]


emphasis mine


What does ‘democracy ‘mean’?  One hears the word tossed around in many contexts, with the implicit assumption that ‘everyone understands’ what it means.  Not!  In my major of  mathematics – a subject of much rigor – it was necessary that definitions be clear, concise, and consistent.  While we don’t need as much rigor in most disciplines, clear definitions are still the foundations on which knowledge must be built.  (N.B.: “It depends on what the definition of  ‘is’   is…” )  Are there standard definitions of democracy?  If there are, they are unclear in everyday usage.

As an example, when the neocons said that a nation was a ‘democracy’, that meant it: had some kind of elections; had a free market economy; and agreed with US policies.  Moving on, I propose that there are four types of democracy: pure democracy; economic democracy; social democracy; and political democracy.

Pure democracy is what existed in Athens: every free male had an equal vote; every issue was majoritarian; and the majority ruled.  (N.B.: Since Socrates was tried for being an atheist, I’ll steer clear of pure democracies.)

Economic democracy is what has existed in the United States, from the era of Carnegie and Rockefeller to the Internet boom:  one was not restricted in matters of birth or class from success in the business world.  This gave us an advantage over countries where one had to have the ‘right school tie’ to succeed.

Social democracy is an environment where anyone who qualifies – irregardless  of religious, racial, and ethnic background – can participate in most aspects of society, including access to public facilities, to education,  and to social,  charitable, and civic organizations.  While this has not universally been true throughout US history, we have been making progress in this matter since the late sixties.

Political democracy describes the situation where all citizens are eligible to vote, there is wide voting participation, and each vote is fairly and accurately counted: perhaps the US will be there some day…

Summary: etymologically,  ‘democracy’ means rule by the people.  Having said all of the above, to give a concise defininition: “democracy is government by the consent of the governed”.

Proverb: “As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined”  &, “If the twig is not secured, the tree  will point in no specific direction”