Exploring Human Potential

Don’t Panic. This Is Democracy.

Posted on | January 18, 2024 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

Shock and dismay were once again in the air this week as Donald Trump did his best to be thrown out of the courtroom in New York City during his unrequested attendance at his second Jean Carroll libel trial.

But as an engaged citizen, I thank the former President for crash testing our form of government. Despite driving a majority of Americans to despair, he has driven the crazies, and their minority followers, out into the open, where they can be examined and confronted. 

He has also meticulously probed the nooks and crannies of the checks and balances of our constitutional government for weaknesses to exploit. And his “What a’ ya gonna du about it?” gangster style has helped foster a certain alertness among true democracy’s defenders

Join me for a moment in Court with Trump this week:

E. Jean Carroll (on the stand):   “I’m here because Donald Trump assaulted me, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened. He lied, and it shattered my reputation.”

Donald Trump (slumped over), slams hands on desk, and loudly whispers to his attorney.

Shawn Crowley (Carroll’s attorney) to the Judge:  “Mr Trump has been sitting at the back table and has been loudly saying things throughout Ms Carroll’s testimony. It’s loud enough for us to hear it. So I imagine it’s loud enough for the jury to hear it.”

Judge Lewis Kaplan to Trump’s attorney: “I’m just going to ask Mr Trump to take special care to keep his voice down when conferring with counsel, so that the jury does not overhear.”

Trump keeps at it.

Attorney Crowley  approaches the bench: “The defendant has been making statements again [that] we can hear at counsel table. He said it is a ‘witch-hunt’, it really is a con-job.”

Judge Kaplan replies: “Mr Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited, and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which is what has been reported to me, and if he disregards court orders. Mr Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial … I understand you are probably very eager for me to do that.”

Donald Trump: “I would love it, I would love it.”

Judge Kaplan: “I know you would, you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently.”

Last word Donald: “You can’t either.”

Now let’s just say it out loud. Trump’s a jerk, and a pain in democracy’s ass. As my mother frequently said to me, “You’re testing my patience.” But he know’s what he’s doing – playing to the court of public opinion, and making a few bucks along the way – while feeding his malignant and insatiable narcissism.

A century ago, there were only 15 democracies worldwide. There are now over 100 representing 2/3 of the global population. The ascendant nature of the basic model suggests progress not perfection.

Indiana University history professor John J. Patrick, in a brilliant little book, Understanding Democracy, dipped into democracy’s messiness, writing that “Differences in opinions and interests are tolerated and even encouraged in the public and private lives of citizens…Democracy in our world implies both collective and personal liberty.”

“Democracies are anchored by Constitutions which define the responsibilities of the various counter-balancing branches of government, and jury a system of laws or rules that apply to all citizens. The Constitution defines the limits on the power of government. It is a tricky balance. The democratic government must be powerful enough to maintain law and order. Yet it must be sufficiently restrained to avoid oppressing individual liberty.”

But maintaining an authentic democracy means keeping it real. Federalist #51, dealt with this delicate balance, stating: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Now say what you want about Trump, but he has inadvertently exposed a bunch of bad guys hiding in the cracks. I’m not just talking about the thousand or so January 6 militia insurrectionists sitting in jail cells now instead of instigating brawls in their local bars

 I’m also  talking about you, Leonard Leo, and your friends at the Federalist Society, who schemed for twenty years before successfully packing a Supreme Court willing to topple Roe v. Wade.

And you, Evangelical hypocrites, about who Marv Knox, who directs the Baptist Fellowship Southwest says: “Their theology runs the gamut, from neo-Calvinism to historic fundamentalism, with plenty of iterations in-between. Their attitude spans from aggressive preachers, politicians and internet posers to benign/benighted pew-sitters. But what they have in common is a dumbed down view of salvation, as well as a sold-out idolatry of political power.”

Point being, in the Donald Trump world of “me-me-me,” these characters can no longer hide. They have been forced out into the open by Trump’s constant need for public adulation, exposed, where their ideas and currency can be openly challenged.

We are already seeing the results of transparency. A very healthy democracy is throwing off the shackles of the Dobbs decision. By August, 2023, seven states had conducted abortion related ballot issues that protected abortion access. All seven ballots won easily. During this same period, poll after poll show large majorities of women see the Dobbs decision and regressive subsequent actions in Red States to be repugnant. 

Most women now believe the issue is reproductive freedom, medical autonomy, and much overdue casting aside the chains of patriarchy. In short, once the screen was down, Dobbs supporters faced an extremely rude awakening, which will likely undermine Trump’s hopes for a second term.

Does that mean we can take the eye off the Trump ball. Just the opposite. Why? Because as Professor Patrick reminds, “In an authentic democracy, the citizens or people choose representatives in government by means of free, fair, contested, and regularly scheduled elections in which all adults have the right to vote and otherwise participate in the electoral process.” And as we all know, Trump will cheat you out of a fair election victory if you give him half a chance.

This is exactly not the time to give up on democracy. Open the windows even if the air is frigid. Let freedom ring. And don’t let the door hit you on the way out of court, Mr. Trump.


2 Responses to “Don’t Panic. This Is Democracy.”

  1. Lawrence Williams
    January 19th, 2024 @ 12:28 pm

    Hi Dr. Magee!!
    As usual you are right on the money with your analysis. The “bad guys” are now right at the front of the MAGA parade. I think one of the real surprises is the number of these wannabe enforcers of the Trump dictatorship. They want severe laws but think that as Trump supporters they will be insulated from that severity and will be able to pretty much do whatever they want to do. They see their paradise on the shoulders of Donald Trump.
    Hopefully the “good guys” like us, will be motivated to make a record turn out at the polls and enforce restraint where necessary on the defeated MAGAs to prevent violent demonstrations wherever they might try to act up. So remember to vote early and often in November.
    My best to you my friend…..Larry

  2. Mike Magee
    January 22nd, 2024 @ 11:41 am

    Thanks, Larry. Absolutely right – it is all about the vote! Best, Mike

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