The U.S. may be facing a period of ‘political violence’ and ‘protracted democratic instability’: journalist
J. Michael Luttig, a conservative attorney and former federal judge who was appointed by the late President George H.W. Bush in 1991, is among the witnesses who has been featured by the January 6 select committee during a series of public hearings that commenced on Thursday night, June 9. Luttig is right-wing in his views, but he isn’t MAGA — and liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, in his June 17 column, explains why he found Luttig’s testimony to be both compelling and disturbing.
Luttig was quite blunt when he testified for the select committee on June 16, warning that former President Donald Trump and his loyalists made a coup attempt in 2020 and pose a “clear and present danger to American democracy.” The former federal judge, now 68, fears that MAGA Republicans may “succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”
Luttig told the committee, “The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public.”
WATCH: Luttig says Trump and his allies are a ‘clear and present danger’ to democracy www.youtube.com
Sargent, in his column, stresses that he shares Luttig’s view that the United States is at a “perilous crossroads.”
“These hearings are about what kind of long-term democratic future lies ahead,” Sargent writes. “They represent an effort to minimize the possibility that we’re sliding headlong into a protracted era of chronic instability and rising political violence.”
Sargent, in addition to quoting Luttig, quotes an article that Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way, two professors of politics, wrote for Foreign Affairs. In their troubling article, published on January 20, Levitsky and Way didn’t predict that the U.S. is heading for a “civil war” but warned that it may very well be heading for a “coming age of instability” and “heightened political violence.” Sargent notes that what they fear is “a future of smoldering conflict akin to the Troubles in Ireland.”
“The January 6 committee will release a damning report this fall, and maybe we’ll see prosecutions,” Sargent writes. “But here’s another possibility: No one is prosecuted, Republicans take Congress, January 6 headlines fade, and after the noise dies down, many pro-coup Republicans are in positions of control over election machinery — and Trump or a designated successor is a favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination.”
\u201cNote this: Judge Luttig's foreboding is shared by scholars of democratic breakdown.\n\nI talked to Luttig and Steven Levitsky, co-author of "How Democracies Die." \n\nBoth agreed that what GOP leaders do now is critical. Remarkable stuff from both of them:\n\nhttps://t.co/KVUkiMIVLh\u201d— Greg Sargent (@Greg Sargent) 1655481529
Sargent interviewed both Luttig and Levitsky for his column, asking them how helpful it would be if more prominent Republicans stood up to the “pro-coup candidates in their midst” — and both of them replied that it would be beneficial if they did.
“If they don’t, Luttig told me, he agrees America may be headed for a period of ‘protracted democratic instability,’” Sargent writes. “Alternative futures are possible. Democrats might rebound and win decisively in 2024. Or maybe Trump will retire to Mar-a-Lago, Republicans will cleanly win in 2024, and President Ron DeSantis will turn out to be more authoritarian bark than bite. But one thing seems unavoidable: If GOP leaders were to treat these revelations with the urgency and seriousness they deserve, it would probably render the darker alternative a lot less likely.”
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