Folks, American democracy will likely not end with a Reichstag fire. It will not end with a military coup. It will end with a transformation of our political culture to transfer more and more power to the president and the ruling party at the expense of everyone else.
Our traditions, our laws, our processes, will be chipped away at. Court appointments will be politicized. Government will be shut down if the president doesn't get his way. Senate approval for appointees will no longer be sought as "acting" secretaries take power.
Obstruction of justice will be seen as the norm. Using the presidency as a personal piggy bank will be accepted. Ethics laws will be ignored. Nepotism will reign. Executive orders and the assertion of "emergency powers" will replace legislation.
Denying a state or territory aid to punish political adversaries will happen regularly. Attacking branches of government that fulfill their constitutional responsibilities rather than serving his personal whims will become the daily fare in social media and elsewhere.
Accepting lies as truth because the president or his party wills it, denying science or history because cliques of political supporters are made uncomfortable by reality, will be seen as our new political and social way of life.
That is how American democracy will die. Worse, more disturbing, is that is what is happening now. With each passing day, the acceptance of these perverse, political pathologies puts more of us and more of our system at risk.
It is easy to think that today's debate is about a wall. It is not. It is about something more dangerous: an attack on the foundations of our system. The threat is coming from within and distractions like the calculated debate over the wall only makes that threat graver.
We must be on alert. We must reject these changes. We must support those who fight these abuses in the courts. We have already made an important step in this regard with the election of the Democratic opposition to take the lead in the House of Representatives.
Our courts and pillars of our justice system like the special counsel and the FBI have helped. But we must not be complacent. The risk to our system is higher than it is have ever been, creeping in lie by lie, Tweet by Tweet, press event after press event.
Our president is a cancer on our democracy and that cancer has metastasized through the compliance of the GOP leadership and the sycophants who populate the White House. It must be excised. Not in the distant future...shifts in culture take root with every passing day.
We must stop them now. The situation is critical. The transformation is happening. Some elements of it did not even start within this administration. But we are in a new order of profound crisis now. It is time for action. It is time to defeat this attack on our system.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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