Are We Witnessing The Death Of America’s Democratic Republic?
Although this journal is called the American Thinker it can be useful to hear the observations of a non-American thinker on what appear to be bewildering and growing problems in America.
Public safety is perhaps the pre-eminent responsibility of government. If a government cannot protect its citizens against criminal members of its society, or even against the unlawful behavior of government itself, that nation no longer deserves to call itself a functioning democracy.
Has the United States reached that point?
The Constitution, which is the primary document of the United States government, begins, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare....”
These provisions are the basic tenets of the need to maintain civil order and public safety in a nation in harmony with itself. It means providing law and order, protection, and safety for each lawful individual citizen.
The Founders wrote the Constitution that way because it was known that there will be people, or even tyrants, who do not respect their fellow citizens and who are willing to take the law into their own hands. This is especially true if the government fails to provide mechanisms to police against crime and punish it when it occurs.
The outcome of defunding or dismantling law enforcement must, inevitably, lead to a sharp increase in lawlessness and violence. In those parts of America that have aggressively defunded or dismantled their law enforcement, areas that are almost exclusively Democrat-governed states and cities, the social fabric has indeed broken down.
Public safety is too important to be used as a political tool; or as a political excuse to change society with one political party imposing biased policies over its citizens; or as a weapon for the ruling political party to enforce oppressive policies over a population. This is true even if that breakdown in safety is delivered under the guise of benefiting some or all of the population.
If the government’s general misrule, deliberate acts, or incompetence, puts citizens at risk and puts beyond their reach the freedoms and liberty necessary for them to thrive, the inevitable outcome will be that some segment of society becomes lawless. Democrats try to deflect by pointing to “root causes.” Currently, they say that police and guns are the “root causes” of violence. Yet those states with active police forces and readily available access to legal guns are not the states in which street violence is rampant.
Democrat mayors have allowed the mob to occupy sections of their cities in what the media call autonomous zones. We have seen mayors order their police to stand down and vacate areas leaving lawful citizens abandoned, held hostage at the mercy of lawless gangs.
Chicago mayor, Lori Lightfoot, is perhaps the most incompetent mayor in the country, although she gets vigorous competition from New York’s De Blasio, Los Angeles’s Garcetti, Seattle’s Durkan, or Portland’s Wheeler. Rather than examining her own conduct, Lightfoot has blamed everything and everyone for her utter failure to counter the horrendous rise in murders in her city.
Following a brutal weekend of murders and shootings in June 2021, Lightfoot called for the court system to act. This is the same system she used COVID to justify closing. That closure meant dangerous criminals were not brought to court to face charges and, as the prisons were deemed COVID traps, were not even kept locked up pending trial. Lightfoot also demonized law enforcement, even calling police racist.
Of course, the problem extends beyond mayors who are incompetent ideologues. Democrats in Chicago and other Democrat-run cities also make the vacuous argument that social workers and psychologists should replace the police. This ignores the obvious point that violent crimes happen in an instant. Who do you call as criminals are breaking down your door to rob or rape you, or as a violent crime or terror attack is occurring? In my country, it is certainly not a social worker or a shrink.
The real root cause of violent crime in America is that local and national governments are unable to manage their communities correctly. The root cause is talentless people and deliberate policies.
In America, in Democrat states and cities, progressive prosecutors actively protect and encourage violent criminals when they refuse to prosecute offenders, forcing a catch and release policy. People arrested for brutal violence and destruction against both private and federal property are being freed from jail without bail, and often proceed to commit the same or worse crimes. These liberal prosecutors act more like defenders of criminals than defenders of public safety. In such an environment, lawful citizens find no protection from the law.
These are examples of an outlaw public policy that fails the basic tenet of proving public safety for lawful citizens. It is an abject, or deliberate, breakdown of society – and the architects seem to be doing it deliberately.
It’s deliberate when TV pundits say, “Show me where it says that protests are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” as they Chris Cuomo did (and others echoed) as BLM and Antifa tore cities apart in 2020 – only to reverse themselves on January 6 when protesters entered Congress, the People’s Building, to protest. The media instantly called them “armed insurrectionists.”
You know there is a double game at play when the only fatality was an unarmed female shot in the neck whom an official assailant, whose identity the authorities are protecting and who faces no charges for murder. Imagine if the authorities had done this with the officer responsible for the death of George Floyd. The blatant hypocrisy points to something very troubling.
And, going back to events on January 6 and after, since when is it just in a constitutional, free society to perform dawn raids on hundreds of political opponents and keep them locked in solitary confinement without trial for six months and counting?
The law books should be reopened and the criminal code reread. It tells that you cannot injure or kill someone without the case being brought to a public court for impartial justice. It tells the authorities that they cannot grab people from their homes and keep them in jail for prolonged periods without justifying their arrest. Public accountability is an integral part of public safety and security.
The true test of a free nation is this: Can a nation survive that encourages lawlessness? Can a constitutional democratic republic survive if the forces of law act malevolently against political opponents but not against those who murder political opponents?
It shouldn’t only be Ashli Babbitt’s family or the hundreds of people incarcerated for six months without trial or charge who ask these questions. Instead, every American should ask them.
Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
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