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In divided America, anything goes in the name of “protecting democracy"

In divided America, anything goes in the name of “protecting democracy"
The fractured state of US democracy | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: A Quick Take to kick off your Monday morning. Let's talk for a moment about the state of US politics, US democracy. It's the one thing that almost all Americans today can agree on, and that is that their political opponents at home are fundamentally opposed to democracy.

Now, that is actually something I think that unites Americans in kind of a weird way. If you are a Biden supporter, you believe that Trump and MAGA supporters are fundamentally opposed to democracy. If you are a MAGA supporter, you believe that Biden and the establishment Democrats are fundamentally opposed to American democracy. It is incredibly dysfunctional. It is no way to operate a government.

It is no way to build a nation. And that means, you know, when you believe that your political opponents are opposed to democracy, you take away their value as people, you think that their political views are wrong and they need to be erased. They don't need to be engaged with sensibly. You also believe that anything that you might do to ensure that your opponents don't take power is justified because you're fighting over something very essential. And so it's kind of Machiavellian. It's the ends justify the means. Any means are justified if your opponents are fundamentally opposed to your system. And I mean, I certainly have political views of who I think is and is not appropriate. And I've said that historically, and I will continue to with this election. But this piece is not about this.

This piece is about the need not to jump into “the ends justify the means” in American politics, not believing that every slight or perceived slight is an 11 on a ten point scale. I think that Trump has committed real crimes, in my view. I look at his unwillingness, for example, to respond to the FBI and efforts to obscure, actively obscure where his classified documents were and weren’t and get his people to move them and lie about it. It's never the crime itself. It's the cover up of the crime that really gets you in trouble. That does, I think, make a real difference in the way that the classified documents case plays out for Trump as it did for Biden, who should not have had documents in many places but was completely forthcoming in responding to government requests.

I also think that for Trump, the Georgia case, in attempting to overturn to find votes in an election, a state election that was administered by, run by members of his own Republican Party, that's a serious issue. I think it would be impeachable. But impeachment no longer functions as a check on the executive in the United States. That part of the US political system is broken, has become politicized. It should be tried in a court of law, is being tried in a court of law. But there will be no conviction, in my view, certainly not before the election is over. And it's been mishandled by the prosecutor for her own ethical lapses. Now, that case does not make me feel that all cases against Trump are legitimate or should be pursued.

Some of them, in my view, are ridiculous. The fact that a bond was set for almost half a billion dollars and then a New York court said, no, actually 175 million implies that the original setting of that bond was politicized against Trump. A felony charge in New York would have been misdemeanor for any other citizen, politicized by a district attorney that was looking to make a name for himself politically in a state that is overwhelmingly anti-Trump. Take Trump off the ballot in Colorado or other states too. Ridiculous. Not in accordance with rule of law. And thankfully, a divided Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that that should not proceed. Nonetheless, there were lots of intelligent people in several states, in the United States in positions of authority that believed that they should take Trump off the ballot.

Because if someone is trying to destroy democracy, anything you do against that person is acceptable. We see these kinds of things being promoted in the political hit jobs that are being done across the board by cable news and in social media. The headlines you would think you were in two different countries. The people you follow, you'd think that they reflect two different worlds, never mind world views.

This happened yet again. This Easter weekend. Here I was minding my own business, candlepin bowling with the family on Easter Sunday, and turns out that it is proclaimed by Biden that Easter is the Transgender Day of Visibility. Easter Sunday. Can you believe that? What he or she is risen? Is that what we've come to as America? I mean, you can just imagine that the anti-Biden folks were apoplectic that he could do that. And of course, it turns out a little bit of research. That's not what happened at all. Actually turns out that the Transgender Day of Visibility is not new. It's been going on for over a decade. It's always on March 31st, which is only Easter Sunday. Every seven years, give or take a leap year. And there are literally hundreds and hundreds of days all throughout the year that get proclaimed as various days. And nobody really cares or pays attention except that we're in stupid season right now in a country where the most important thing politically is that you are able to score a point and take a piece off of your political opponent.

And the more we do that, the less we can talk to our fellow citizens. And it's not the country that any of us actually want to live in. It is being driven by political entrepreneurs that use that violent political sensibility to stay in power, to achieve power, to make money. It's being driven by media organizations that are having a hard time raising money to continue to feed their shareholders.

And so as a consequence, they are much more willing to drive anything, any headline for clicks. And of course, it's being driven by algorithms and social media that only give you the things that you agree with or that are going to make you very angry and to drive more and more engagement. And every one is very easily shaped by that.

Even if you spend only a little bit of time on politics. But that time is always being pushed in favor of you and your political tribe and opposed to the tribe that you want to defeat, then there is no common ground. There's no sensibility. Anything they say is wrong and should be used against them. Anything you and your team say is correct. And if you believe that and if you're following people who only engage in support in one side of the partisan divide, then you are part of a propaganda bubble. You are being misled politically, you're being spun up, you're being taken advantage of, you're being used. And increasingly that is the dominant theme in this very long, very expensive US election.

And I am going to continue to do everything I can to refuse to play ball in that easier, since I'm not a member of a political party and I've never been in a political position. Harder in the sense that everyone's going to whack you one time or another if you irritate their sensibilities. But at the end of the day, I'd be unhappy with myself if I did anything else, and that kind of matters, right? So anyway, that's my view for this election. I'm sure I'll come back to this theme again and again. But it seems to have been a lot in the headlines of late, so I thought I would make mention of it.


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