Are we normalizing the 'death of democracy' by talking about it so much?

With Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election, his followers' insurrection at the Capitol and the ongoing attacks on voting rights in GOP-controlled states across the country, most people should now recognize that our democracy is in real peril. The undoing of the U.S. democracy is being carried out slowly, in stages, to wear down opponents and normalize what would otherwise be outrageous.

According to the detailed reporting of the late Village Voice journalist Wayne Barrett, this has been the modus operandi of Donald Trump from the beginning of his public career, after he was born on third base and then began whining that the public was not applauding his mighty triple — to obfuscate, obstruct, lie, manipulate, cajole, gaslight, demand loyalty, sue and repeat, ad nauseam, to wear down those trying to expose his misdeeds. He learned most of his underhanded tricks from his father, Fred, and his mentor, the lovely Roy Cohn.

We find ourselves living in a country where the traditions of political discourse were systematically destroyed, over a number of decades, by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who taught Republicans to always be aggressively aggrieved and to treat political opponents as enemies; where the norms of presidential behavior were turned on their head during Trump's years in the White House; where Republicans in Congress now compete with each other to see who can reach the next new low; and where a far-right media empire profits most when it spews out disinformation and trades in conspiracy theories.

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And all this despicable behavior — from demonizing political opponents to praising white supremacists to passing laws that hinder voting rights and even harm public health — is being done in the name of making America "great again."

In such a hostile environment, how can a democracy best defend itself? Benjamin Franklin famously remarked, when questioned by Elizabeth Willing Powel of Philadelphia about the form of government that had been devised, that we had "a republic, if you can keep it." (We can speculate as to whether Powel, a well-connected and politically astute upper-class woman, wondered at that remark, given that she didn't have the right to vote.)

Matters are, of course, more complicated now. We live in an extremely large republic with a diverse population, and our government has long faced serious issues with representation. Because every state, despite its population, gets two senators, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming (with a collective total population of about 2 million) have triple the clout of New York (20 million) or California (39 million). The 50 Democratic senators now represent 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republican senators. If population trends continue, by 2040 it is estimated that 70% of Americans will be represented by only 30 senators, while the other 30% will be represented by 70 senators.

Even in the House of Representatives, where population is supposed to count for fair representation, congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered to ensure one party has more representatives in the House and at the state level than they otherwise would. In the past couple of decades, the Electoral College has allowed Republicans to win the White House twice (Gore v. Bush in 2000 and Clinton v. Trump in 2016) when they've lost the popular vote.

RELATED: Will Arizona's relentless Republican gerrymander decide the 2024 presidential election?

Still, a broken democracy might be fixed. A slide into theocracy or autocracy would mark the end of the American experiment of freedom of speech — especially press freedom — separation of church and state and the rule of law. Grifters and oligarchs would have free play.

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We should all sound warnings about it, but this creates an apparent dilemma: Does it help that more people are speaking about it, or does having this issue in the news so often simply normalize the idea, giving sustenance to those who plan to subvert it? The warnings have been crystal clear:

  • Many warned about Trump's thuggish, autocratic tendencies from the beginning of his run for the Republican nomination in 2015, after he kicked off his campaign by saying of Mexican immigrants "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
  • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was concerned enough by anti-democratic movements she saw around the world, and growing signs of it at home, to publish "Fascism: A Warning" in 2018 and to speak both knowledgeably and passionately about it in interviews.
  • All 10 living former defense secretaries warned in an op-ed in January 2021 about the possibility of Trump using the military to overturn the fairly decided election. We have lately learned that military leaders' concerns about Trump's plans for the National Guard, which he allegedly wanted to use to protect Trump supporters from imaginary counter-protesters, may have caused them to be deployed so late on Jan. 6.
  • Retired generals have recently warned of the possibility of a civil war in 2024, with the military splitting along ideological lines.
  • Prominent political scientists and journalists have warned about the characteristics of autocratic and fascist movements (e.g., make your political opponents the enemy, denigrate the free press) for years now.
  • Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist and the former president's niece, wrote a book about his malignant narcissism and continues to warn the country about what he is capable of and what he represents.
  • I don't know what's happening in your town, but our favorite local radio guy here in St. Louis is counting down on his podcast the number of days remaining for democracy in America "as we have known it."

And of course everyone in the country saw with their own eyes the "Stop the Steal" protest that was followed by the brutal, deadly, feces-smeared assault on the Capitol. Those people had just heard their president exhort them for more than an hour with clear directives: "We want to go back, and we want to get this right, because we're going to have somebody in there that should not be in there and our country will be destroyed, and we're not going to stand for that."

Trump told them to go to the Capitol to "fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell you won't have a country anymore." We all knew he was unwilling to call the attack off, and now the House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 wants records of his calls to allies at the so-called war room at the Willard Hotel the day before.

RELATED: Jan. 6 committee to investigate Trump's calls to allies at Willard Hotel before Capitol riot

The rest of us had already heard Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" him the 11,780 votes he needed to prevail in that state.

Citizens of good faith naturally wonder: How much does it take to get charged with tampering with an election? Are certain crimes no longer crimes if you are white and wealthy, and you commit them brazenly?

Sometimes it seems like the kid's game of Chutes and Ladders: People who stormed the Capitol are prosecuted, pulling us closer to a seeming level of justice and a discouragement of continued acts of insurrection, but then Kyle Rittenhouse gets a standing ovation at a right-wing conference, and we find ourselves sliding down again, back to where we began. In the meantime, the true instigators — those who planned and funded and exhorted the insurrection — slip off the hook, time and again, pointing a toddler's finger back at those who charge them with anti-democratic actions, stamping their feet and saying, "No, you are the insurrectionists."

In this the bully-is-really-the-one-getting-bullied world (which apparently now has a name), the coup took place on election day and the tyrant is Joe Biden. Oh, and Democrats are pedophiles who hate their country and are trying to destroy it, and they must be stopped—which is not only psychological projection, as we are all tired of pointing out, but also quite politically useful in creating the sub-human enemy one needs to justify the use of violence.

Thanks again, Rush. Thanks, Newt.

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So, what can one do with this? How does one warn people about the distinct possibility of the United States becoming a Putin-like dictatorship when Trump's fans seemingly adore Putin (remember "I'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat" T-shirts during the Obama years?), talk up autocrats like Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán and are themselves normalizing the idea of a violent insurrection on Trump's behalf?

As Salon columnist Amanda Marcotte noted in a recent piece about how Fox News hosts follow the Trumpian method of coupling shamelessness and belligerence to spew out disinformation, it is all about flooding the information zone, wearing opponents down, and further indoctrinating their cult-like following:

In a sense, it's not even really lying. Lying is an attempt to deceive. Gaslighting, however, does not try to convince anyone of anything, except their own powerlessness. Trump's incessant insistence that the election was "stolen" convinces no one. But, by grinding at it day and night, Trump has indoctrinated his followers into parroting the lie, not because they believe it, but as a means to demonstrate loyalty.

Trump's fans are now so tribal, and so deeply steeped in his demagoguery about Democrats and "elites" and experts in general being the enemy, that they even boo him if he strays from the message — in admitting that he got the vaccine and then the booster — in a belated attempt to promote public health or, more likely, try to seize personal glory from the vaccines.

With despotic leaders working together despite competing ideologies, as Anne Applebaum wrote recently in the Atlantic, and the far right apparently now collaborating to create a global think tank to push its oligarchic or autocratic ideology in Steve Bannon style, how should democracies respond?

In the first Summit for Democracy, held in early December 2021, President Biden laid out three key areas for action: strengthening democracy and defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption and promoting respect for human rights. Fighting corruption must of course begin at home, not only by stopping the money-laundering operations of oligarchs but by getting money out of our own politics.

To get back to my original question: Are our constant warnings about the rise of autocracy and fascism only serving to normalize it, in effect to talk it into being? I think the question hardly matters. More than 70% of Republicans already believe that democracy in this country is facing a "major threat" — not because of the Big Lie about the election and the insurrection, but because they've swallowed Trump's lies about the election. Only 35% of Democrats, on the other hand, feel democracy is facing such a threat. A Harvard poll of voters aged 18 to 29 shows that a majority (52%) feel our democracy is in trouble or failing.

You're not crying wolf if the wolves are all around you — and even roaming the floor of Congress.

Will our democracy become a pretend one, backsliding into "competitive authoritarianism"? As Christopher Sabatini and Ryan C. Berg wrote in Foreign Policy last February, the autocrats have a playbook; those who want to keep their democracies — as imperfect as they may currently be — need a playbook too. We need to learn from other countries where democracy has been challenged, and we need to let the wannabe dictators know that we see their slow-motion coup game and are ready to fight it — by exposing it to the light of day, by strengthening the rule of law and by insisting on the right to vote and then exercising it.

Are we talking about this too much? No; that's not possible.

From the left, we often hear that we really don't have a true democracy. That is undoubtedly true: It is a republic, and one that is dangerously unfair in terms of representation, for reasons noted above. How can the rights of citizens be protected by a Congress that continues to operate through bribery? Still, the underlying message of such analyses may be that such a "democracy" is not worth saving. Such arguments end up being uncomfortably akin to the "whataboutisms" perfected by dictators like Putin.

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As much as we may critique the democratic system in the United States for not living up to its name, or the Democratic Party for not getting enough done, what we now face is dire. Trump himself may not precisely fit the "classic" definition of a fascist leader — we can quibble about that around the edges — but he's close enough for many experts. More to the point, he is a nonstop liar, a conman and a sociopath. He doesn't care about his own followers, only about himself. No such person should be in a leadership position at any level.

Democrats are at least trying to save our democracy by proving it can works for the average person. Trumpists? To paraphrase the presidential candidate who went on to become the first twice-impeached president, in one White House term: They're bringing ultra-nationalism, they're bringing white supremacy, they're spreading COVID, but we assume some of them are good people. Those "good people," if they still exist, need to step back from the brink and help us save our democracy.

What exactly has gone wrong in America? Something made middle-aged white American men go desperately off the rails

Everyone has a pet theory or two about what has gone wrong in America. And by America I of course mean the United States of, discounting the other 34 countries of the Americas — which speaks to our exceptional self-centeredness, which might in fact be seen as one of the overarching reasons why the country has gone to pot. Not only do we harbor a fervent belief that we have nothing to learn from others, we barely comprehend that they exist.

With the Republican Party's platform morphing from obstruction to fascism (e.g., CPAC is planning a spring fling in authoritarian Hungary), citizens losing their minds over wearing masks and talking up anything but a safe and free vaccine in a deadly pandemic that has taken more American lives than were lost in our Civil War (in an era before doctors could do much more than use a saw), and school board members facing violent threats for supporting basic inclusion and diversity efforts in public schools — for many, the concept of American exceptionalism has been turned on its head.

One could easily contend, as was argued back in the day, that the country "went south" (literally) when it was first truly established because too much had to be given to the South to get the Constitution ratified. We are still suffering from those compromises, and still making them, to this day. America's hidden wound, as writer Wendell Berry termed it, our collective unwillingness to fully acknowledge our history of slavery, is now producing the bad-faith arguments about critical race theory being taught in public schools and the banning of books that address the history of slavery in this country. This wound may prove mortal.

In what I wish were a side note, I will mention the insightful — and unfortunately highly pertinent to our era — article entitled "Who Goes Nazi?" by Dorothy Thompson, published Harper's Magazine in 1941. If you've not read it, read it now, as if we were up against it. Because we are.

My few pet theories cannot compete with the increasingly bizarre QAnon-ish fantasies on the right, of which the less said the better. (I won't bother to link to anything. Anyway, as we know all too well now: Do your own research!)

While there is still time, while we enjoy what could be the final days of this little experiment in semi-representational democracy, let me put a few lesser theories forward, just for the record. Lesser theories, one might say, from my admittedly lesser mind.

Was it the frat boys?

The serious lack of seriousness and misogyny inculcated by life in a typical fraternity during a young man's college career has bled into most of our institutions, including Congress. The problem with many former frat boys is that they are never really former frat boys. Then, they were young and strong and could chug a beer without so much as a thought. Not thinking about things was a badge of honor. They look back on those years as defining and suffer at least a certain level of arrested development. In their underdeveloped minds, they are still gleefully cheating on exams, bragging about their sexual prowess, regularly using words like "pussy" and making the pledges' lives a living terror. If you want to comprehend how dangerous they can be if they stumble into public service roles later in life, in the previous sentence just swap out pledges and swap in citizens. You're done, pledge. Fetch me a beer.

I'm rather unhappily compelled to note that the current Congress has many members, both Democrat and Republican, a number of whom I admire, who went Greek in their college days. All I can say is that when I was pledge-class president in a fraternity, trying to get a group of a dozen pledges through a mind-bendingly idiotic and semi-dangerous Hell Week (only one guy had to be taken to the hospital), I determined that I would not be returning the next year and quietly let that be known to the active members. The upperclassmen brought down four or five of the more sober, sensible members to try to talk me out of it. So I'm assuming there are some sensible members who have not engaged in "the stupidification of the Right" as even Bret Stephens, a conservative voice at the New York Times, calls it. But for the most part, I think the frat-boy theory must stand, much as the endless influx of so-called Oxbridge graduates apparently leads to group dope-think within the Westminster Parliament. So, yes, go on and get me that beer. Speaking of which …

Perhaps it was light beer

I contend that the remarkable success of light beer around the era of Ronald Reagan has led to further gaslighting, a continual drift away from reality and an unremarked-upon underlying roiling dissatisfaction among U.S. males. They've been hammered their entire lives by the message that these weak froths "taste great and are less filling," which is utter nonsense. Being of a certain age, these men first felt bamboozled and then likely hoodwinked, but they kept buying the stuff because, you know, sports.

Maybe there was another message being conveyed: We don't need any darker brews around here, no swarthy beers, my fellow good European-descended sirs! Light is right! Someone on the right must have figured out that if you could get men to believe that these watery brews were beer, you could get them to believe anything. Even younger men began falling for the light beer marketing onslaught (see above: Frat Boy Theory). Again, the lack of flavor created an unrecognized deep, underlying dissatisfaction with life's prospects, like that "incel" thing, but with beer. Light beer is to beer what viewing porn is to having sex — you're definitely going to end up feeling disappointed. The advent of an unending panoply of delicious (and, yes, sexy) craft beers, enjoyed by younger Americans (the 18-40 demographic accounts now for 31% of voters), sometimes brought away from "microbreweries" in "growlers," no doubt overwhelms and enrages the ever-aging cohort of light-beer quaffers, whose lives were stolen from them, so they irrationally demand, you know, MAGA. Don't forget where Hitler and his swell pals worked up their grievances into an incoherent conspiracy theory–fueled rationale for ruthlessly murdering, plundering and conquering the world — in beer halls. Beer matters.

The athlete-pay breakthrough theory

When St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball, in 1970, for his independence from the reserve clause, which left all decision-making about his career to team ownership, he never personally enjoyed the fruits of his labor. But other players did, kicking off the free agent era and elevating salaries for professional athletes. Interestingly, in that same era corporate heads looked around and muttered to themselves they should be paid more, and we saw the relative pay of CEOs and other corporate executives grow exponentially, leaving their workers far behind.

When Flood was pleading his case for freedom as an independent contractor, a top executive's salary was roughly 30 times the pay of their lowest-paid worker; now it is nearly 400 times higher. Corporate America's most devoted lackeys in Congress would later come to call these men "job creators," as if they were demigods. (I didn't mention that many of these liberated athletes were people of color because, you know, that might sound like some CRT tangent and be upsetting for some folks. I just want a little credit for not bringing it up. Now, get me one of those craft beers, will you? If it's going to cost $10 for a beer at the ballgame, it might as well taste like something.)

Service with a smile

The culture and traditions of the American workplace have always been linked with the slave economy, and our expectations as consumers of endless "service with a smile" fit right in with that owner's mentality. Think of Brad in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," berated by a smirking customer who demands his money back, and not being backed up at all by his manager. Or think of me, as a young man working in a New York City restaurant and taking over for a female colleague who was in tears after being harassed by a four-top of coked-up Wall Street characters. One of them thought it would be fun to grab me by the shirt and pull me down close to his face to express his unhappiness that I was not the waitress he wanted to continue to harass. Now think of store clerks and line cooks and flight attendants and nurses getting screamed at by endless streams of toddlers posing as adults. This is the attitude — on steroids, if not cocaine — that essential workers around the country have faced during the pandemic. As journalist and author Sarah Jaffe notes in an excellent interview with Ezra Klein, during the COVID crisis many workers learned that their bosses literally didn't care if they died.

The "Prosperity Gospel"

The Republican Party managed to make people think they cared about religion, grabbing their votes while they transformed God into a CEO who's suitably impressed by your numbers and Jesus into a caddie waiting to serve your needs at the country club. (Much as I loved playing golf, what are country clubs but a somewhat more presentable version of the Old South plantation?)

Talk radio

You hear them whenever you drive across the country, especially outside metropolitan areas: Endless tirades from religious and political lunatics, for hours and hours. Just try to find an NPR station out there. It's unbelievable.

The "Freebird" theory

Gosh, I really don't mean to keep talking about the South. I loved that double lead guitar sound — I mean, back when I was a frat boy). But, really, it's hard not to put at least some of the blame on Lynyrd Skynyrd, isn't it? I know that statement will likely send some of their fans into a blind. So, listen, just give me three steps, mister.

IN OTHER NEWS: 'Flat-out wrong' Lauren Boebert doesn't understand the meaning of Christianity

'Flat-out wrong' Lauren Boebert doesn't understand the meaning of Christianity www.youtube.com

Formation of a black hole: On the spectacular implosion of the Republican Party

Lately I've been reading about space and time and quarks and protons and neutrons — all things I never learned about in physics, because I never took that course in high school or college. I was a biology major for a couple of years, vaguely pre-med, until I saw physics and organic chemistry looming ahead and changed my major to journalism. While studying the hard sciences, I had also fallen hard for theater, so the shift away from the study of science was partly due to the time-suck of memorizing lines and rehearsals. The gravitational pull exerted by one excellent lecture course on Shakespeare and some superb theater professors set me on a new course.

I never lost interest in the things I walked away from then. I have numerous science books around the house that I thumb through and still hope to read. On my desk right now are two stacks of books which contain (along with novels and poetry and a book about running) "The Mathematics Devotional" and "30-Second Biology." For some years I had a cool retro "Calculus for the Practical Man" that I kept thinking I might be able to comprehend.

Reading about how black holes form, I can't stop thinking about the implosion of the Republican Party. The metaphor is perfect, even when extended.

Astrophysicists tell us a black hole is created when a star of a certain size begins to cool and thus loses the heat that keeps the force of gravity at bay. In his "A Brief History of Time," Stephen Hawking compares the steady state of a star with a balloon, the air inside (representing the star's heat caused by nuclear fusion) pushing against the skin, which pushes back (the star's internal gravity). Once the heat dissipates, the star begins to collapse inward until it becomes so dense that light can no longer escape the gravitational pull. The boundary where light reaches, but can go no further, is called the event horizon.

Sound familiar? Swap in "truth" for "light" (light being a standard metaphor for truth) and you have the current condition of the former Grand Old Party.

Nothing can go faster than the speed of light, but in human terms we know that falsehoods travel much faster than the truth. One thinks of the quip, often attributed to Mark Twain, which runs something like, A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on. (Apparently, the concept goes back to Jonathan Swift, who wrote in 1710: "Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.") So lies have a higher velocity than the truth — especially in the age of social media — and continue to be emitted daily from the Republican black hole.

You cannot see a black hole, but it still exerts a gravitational pull on nearby objects. Astronomers can see this by watching other stars orbit around seemingly nothing. (Speaking of "seemingly nothing," a comparison is inescapable, which would be pretty funny if it weren't so scary.)

One wonders whether Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney and others who are now trying to distance themselves from the black hole centered on Mar-a-Lago can garner enough velocity to pull away from the singular density of all the lies, mendacity, grifting, gaslighting, bad-faith dealing, authoritarian praising, anti-democratic espousing, white supremacist messaging and conspiracy-theory reeling.

As Hawking writes: "Stars in the galaxy that come too near this black hole will be torn apart by the differences in the gravitational forces on their near and far sides."

Cheney and Romney are certainly feeling those effects.

Only stars beyond a certain size can become a stellar black hole, something Indian-American astrophysicist and mathematician Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who spent his career at the University of Chicago, noted in a series of papers in the 1930s. He received the Nobel Prize (with British physicist Ralph Fowler) for his work in 1983 — about the time Donald Trump opened his namesake tower on Fifth Avenue.

Although I'm referencing stellar black holes here, it should be noted that Donald Trump was never truly a star. From the first moments he came into public view, he ceaselessly tried to create a name for himself, even stooping to pretend to be a press agent for himself (remember how "John Barron" and "John Miller" sounded exactly like Donald?).

Trump was eventually puffed up into a reality-show star by decades of falsehoods about his prowess as a businessman and one biographer, Tony Schwartz, the true author of "The Art of the Deal," who very much regrets the work he did. Trump was a phony president for the same reasons he was a phony businessman: He couldn't be bothered by work and details; he just bullied and pushed and threatened to get his way. The late Wayne Barrett, the longtime Village Voice reporter who had Trump's number from the beginning, put it best, while introducing his two-part series of articles on Trump published in January 1979:

Each history — the Brooklyn empire, the Manhattan purchases, and the government contracts — is a tale of overreaching and abuse of power. Like his father, Donald Trump has pushed each deal to the limit, taking from it whatever he can get, turning political connections into private profits at public expense.

At best, then, in this extended metaphor he was an odd star, a white dwarf or a neutron. But then his size was bloated immensely by the false premises of "The Apprentice" and his notoriety then began to reach — let's say, for the purposes of the metaphor — the "Chandrasekhar limit," the point at which a cold star can no longer support itself. What took him over the top was the endless coverage he was gifted by cable news during the 2016 campaign. (I nearly wrote "inexplicably gifted" but of course it's all too easy to understand. Even real news programs are corporate owned and profit-minded, and on the air far too long every day. They have to fill that time with something, and showman Trump knew very well how to take advantage of the hungry maw of 24/7 news coverage.)

Some 70 percent of Republicans still believe in Trump's falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen. If you don't fight against the lies, as Liz Cheney — who knows a thing or two herself about offering up the Big Lie — recently noted, you only make them stronger: "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar." It's like a law of physics.

Speaking of lies, the longer version of Jonathan Swift's concept is illuminating, in this context:

Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ'd only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv'd, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect …

No astrophysicist has seen a black hole form, but we have. As with the celestial phenomenon, it has taken a long time; the Republican Party has been gaining unhealthy mass (e.g., Newt Gingrich) at least since the days of Ronald Reagan and his Big Lies about welfare queens and trickle-down economics and small government. Think back, if you can stomach it, to the months leading up to the 2016 election, when all the major media outlets, including CNN and MSNBC, breathlessly ticked down the time to every single Trump campaign lie-fest, where they also rocked out to music that made no sense at all ("Funeral for a Friend," "YMCA"?) that the artists asked them not to use.

Do you remember? As my friend Joel is wont to say, "Sure you do." The GOP black hole was forming right there on television; like a pack of amateur astronomers, we could all observe it happening — Trump's bullied opponents capitulating, journalists and their corporate leaders allowing themselves to be pushed around, party members refusing to comment about the endless stream of disinformation — with the naked eye, in broad daylight.

Trump's cabinet members have one last chance to redeem themselves -- but of course they won't

The president of the United States is relentlessly threatening the right of citizens to exercise their right to vote. He is also saying that he might not leave office if he loses the election, and that the election is "rigged" — unless he wins. He also spends most of his days watching television, raging, fulminating, lying, demanding loyalty of those around him, demeaning his political opponents and trading in conspiracy theories, while creating chaos instead of a plan to address a pandemic that could take 300,000 American lives by the end of the year.

Is such a person fit for this office? Any office?

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