In this morning’s column (Nov. 23) Jonathan Kraut painted a beautiful portrait of the history of failed democracies going back to the early Greeks and the fragile and ill-fated democracy of Athens nearly 2,500 years ago. He even went so far as to acknowledge that democracy runs contrary to human nature. Bravo. What he failed to acknowledge is that the intellect of the average person has not advanced sufficiently to overcome its animal instincts, thus making democracy ultimately unsustainable.
I am certain Mr. Kraut is aware of the fact that the greatest thinkers of that time (i.e. Plato and Socrates) despised democracy and equated it to “mob rule,” a contention with which I happen to agree — but that’s beside the point. Mr. Kraut asked if we are seeing the death of U.S, democracy. I think the short answer is, “Yes…but…”
What is the “but” for, you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you.
I have written it many times that there is too much inordinate focus on Donald Trump as being the destroyer of American democracy, and that it is not only misleading, it is also outright false.
For example, people think if they went back in time and killed Adolph Hitler when he was a boy that Nazi Germany would never have come to exist. False. Hitler was just one of many who rode a wave of national shame and anger following the end of World War I. Hitler had a number of contemporary counterparts who were equally willing and able to lead post-World War I Germany into hell, and Germany was ready for it. He just got rid of his competition.
The U.S. is somewhat similarly in a state of national shame and anger (not to mention chaos), and believe me when I say that if it’s not Trump then it will be someone like him who will rise from the collective rage to somewhat similarly lead us into hell. Without Germans, Hitler would have amounted to nothing more than just another starving artist (or architect). Germany made Hitler. Likewise for Trump. Without enough Americans behind him, Trump would just be another loud-mouthed, egotistical real estate developer.
Just as I once told Lois Eisenberg, as her loathing of Trump defies measurement, I will now tell Mr. Kraut and anyone else who is reading this letter: Don’t blame Trump for any of this as he is merely a banner, a symbol of a growing sentiment in this country.
You need look no further than your next-door neighbor’s house for the real culprit.
But when you do that, please be mindful enough to ask your neighbor the reason for his rage and considerate enough to listen to the answer, but be well-prepared for the response as he might simply show you to the mirror.