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American democracy’s last stand

American democracy’s last stand File photo

I was raised in a rural, conservative-leaning county with two working parents and six busy kids. My mother was a nurse and public heath educator and my father worked in insurance and real estate before serving three terms as our Republican State House representative and later as a lawyer and court judge.

I grew up with the notion that the government worked for the people, that it worked to represent the voices of everyone and that minimal intrusion into business working, private lives and personal freedoms was of utmost importance. I remember wearing a Barry Goldwater campaign button during his failed 1964 presidential run and telling the adults that I was going to vote for him, even though I was only 5 years old. 

But something happened around 1980 with Ronald Reagan’s rise to the White House and his embracing of the televangelists we then saw on TV, bringing them into the political conversation and spotlight. The respect for diverse voices and inclusive discussions began to fade as the Pat Robertsons and Jim Bakers blasted their brands of Christianity into the legislative chambers which echoed across the airwaves, shutting out the quiet voices of rational discussions and inclusion. The carefully balanced scales of “personal choice” and “public good” became tipped by their self-serving prophetic thumbs and empty promises.

Fast-forward 35 years to the rise of Trump-ism, and the once-proud Republican Party has been reduced to a mere shadow of what they once stood for, leaving the party, and the nation, severely diminished. It is now fueled largely by dark money from mysterious political action committees and represented by the House GOP clown-car antics and Donald Trump’s lunatic statements. By shouting out their grievances and creating chaos instead of working constructively to address the many challenges we face, we now find ourselves on the edge of a national political cliff.  

The GOP I once admired now has me plugging my ears, shaking my head and running away from the destructive madness and vitriol on display in our nation’s capital. Today’s Republican Party, now the Trump party, has shown that it no longer believes and honors the fundamental principles many of us once admired, with their new embrace of restricted rights of personal freedom and choice, women’s health care, voting access, education and science.

Joe Biden may not be the charismatic firebrand many of us would like to see running for the presidency, but he is a genuine American who truly believes in and works for the good of the nation with dignity and respect for the rule of law. He and several Democrats will get my votes in November because a vote for Trump and his supporters in Congress will be a vote to end democracy in America.  Our fragile democracy deserves better treatment than today’s GOP is offering, and the chaos, vengeance and belligerence Trump is serving up will only drive American democracy further over the edge.

(John Beckman lives in Cullowhee and is a builder and farmer. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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