Democracy is still ‘under attack’ in the US — and authoritarian extremists aren’t backing down: conservative

Democracy is still ‘under attack’ in the US — and authoritarian extremists aren’t backing down: conservative

The distinction between conservatism and far-right radicalism is an important one. For all their policy differences, progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and conservative GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Never Trumper, recognize the value of liberal democracy — which was viciously assaulted when far-right extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. Liberal democracy in the United States survived that assault, but Never Trump conservative Sarah Longwell — in an article published by The Bulwark on April 22 — warns that the American far right is as dangerous now as it was when the Capitol was viciously invaded.

Longwell looks back on U.S. history in her article, noting that American democracy survived everything from the Great Depression to 9/11.

"Presidents and statesmen have reminded the public that the preservation of democracy should always be our chief political aim — as the Constitution puts it, to 'secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,'" Longwell explains. "Rallying Americans 'round the flag of democracy has never not worked. And yet, this time feels different."

The extremists who attacked the Capitol on January 6 were hoping to prevent Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory over then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. It was more than a riot — it was an attempted coup d'état or golpe de estado. And Longwell finds it incredibly disturbing that there is so much sympathy for the insurrectionists within 2021's Republican Party.

Longwell nots, "Not quite four months ago, a mob of normal American citizens — driven by a lie concocted and spread by their elected leaders — succeeded in doing what neither Robert E. Lee nor Osama bin Laden ever could: sacking the Capitol and forcing the elected representatives of the American people in Congress into hiding…. Not quite four months ago, more than 140 members of Congress objected to counting the electoral votes of a free and fair election…. Some members of this group knew that there was no legitimate reason to object to counting the votes, but voted to overturn the election anyway."

Biden has been president for over three months, and many Republicans view him not as the loyal opposition, but as illegitimate — as someone who has no right to govern. That is the type of thinking that worries Longwell. And the Never Trumper concludes her article by stressing that the type of extremism that led to the January 6 attack is as toxic as ever.

"American democracy is under attack — and not in a metaphorical or a philosophical or a spiritual sense," Longwell writes. "Our democracy is under attack, for real, by a large portion of a major political party which seeks to utterly transform the relationship between the government and the governed. It's time we start acting like it."

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