'How democracy self-destructs': Why Kari Lake's candidacy may harbinger a future right-wing dystopia

'How democracy self-destructs': Why Kari Lake's candidacy may harbinger a future right-wing dystopia
Image via Gage Skidmore.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has fully aligned herself with former President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again movement and become an unapologetic proponent of Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Over the weekend, Lake upped the ante, pledging to CNN's Dana Bash that she would only accept the results of her state's contest in November if she wins.

According to an analysis in The New Republic on Monday, Lake's transformation from a supporter of President Barack Obama into a Trump political fractal, coupled with her deification of Trumpism, makes Lake a bellwether for the burgeoning existential perils facing American democracy.

"Lake goes around saying and doing outrageous and untrue things—the more outrageous and untrue the better," writes Editor Michael Tomasky. "Her positions, of course, are hard-core right-wing on every conceivable topic."

READ MORE: 'Where is the evidence?' CNN's Dana Bash forced to cut off GOPer Kari Lake's rant about election fraud

Tomasky assesses, however, that Lake's "lies" about her Democratic opponent Secretary of State Katie Hobbs – along with the GOP's full-fledged embrace of Lake – signal that a troubling set of circumstances is brewing in the Grand Canyon State and beyond.

"If we lived in a functioning democracy, in which citizens took citizenship seriously and deliberated in reasonably good faith and all that, which is what men who founded this country naively had in mind, a candidate like Lake would get 34 percent. Every responsible civic, religious, and business leader would come out against such a candidate, and the party that nominated her would be shunned until it demonstrated it had re-tethered itself to planet Earth," Tomasky states. "But we live in a dysfunctional democracy; or perhaps in certain ways a too functional democracy. What I mean is that for democracy to exist, it has to exist equally for everybody. That, unfortunately, includes Kari Lake and Herschel Walker and even Donald Trump. They’re all entitled to run for office. They don’t have to know the first thing about anything."

Tomasky thusly sees Lake as the foremost exploiter of a democracy's most fundamental flaw – the capacity for it to self-annihilate.

"It turns out that it’s actually democracy that contains the seeds of its own destruction. If the people who want a Christian nation with no secure voting rights and a weak independent press get 51 percent of the votes, they can impose that and more on the rest of us. That’s what we’re witnessing now, in Arizona and across the country. And there is little we can do about it. I can write a column like this, but Katie Hobbs can’t say all this to the swing voters of Arizona. Most of them wouldn’t understand what she was talking about, and Lake would find a way to turn such talk to her advantage, as demagogues always do," Tomasky concludes. "This is what we’re watching now, and have been since 2016: democracy’s lack of defense against destroying itself."

READ MORE: 'The party's over': GOP strategist warns that 'good Republicans' can’t defeat 'lunatics' in 2022’s GOP

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