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[Martin Schram] It’s time to make America’s democracy great again

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 6, 2023 - 05:25

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To tell you the truth, if I do just that, the polls all say that one out of three of you won’t want to hear or read it -- and that you damn well won’t believe it.

So let’s start today with the things just about all of us believe. Almost all of us believe that we are on the side of the Patriotic Americans. And way too many of us believe, these days, that those on the other side aren’t true patriots at all -- but fake patriots who are America’s true enemies.

We have fallen that far. We grew up proud to be celebrated by chroniclers of history as The Greatest Generation. USA! USA! America had led the way to victory in World War II, saved Europe and Asia from being conquered by our real enemies.

America’s democracy was being celebrated around the world as the epitome of enlightened governance, as we maturely heeded the electoral will of our people. Even when it meant maturely transferring power between our two major parties. I have chronicled that moment twice in our modern era, from the most symbolic and true place of power -- standing alone in the doorway when the Oval Office was between its masters at noon, Jan. 20, 1977 and 1981. Indeed, I wrote essays capturing two very different sorts of transfers of power I observed as I could hear the voice of its new masters, Jimmy Carter and then Ronald Reagan, taking their oaths of office.

In 1977, there was solitude as one lone secretary, Nell Yates, who had been working there since Eisenhower, observed the empty place of power, shook her head, and left. She returned just a minute later with five books that she placed between bookends on the empty desk. “At least now it makes you want to come in and do some work,” she told me.

In I981, the silence erupted into tumult as a phalanx of furniture movers entered swiftly and began executing their choreographed and rehearsed plan -- pivoting the furniture, replacing paintings. White House painter Joseph Morris began meticulously tending to last minute touch­-ups, eager to please his new bosses, but unaware that, in his rush, he had neglected to remove the green-and-white Carter-Mondale button that was still on his coveralls. Two different, but collegial as well as peaceful, transfers of power.

Sadly, there was nothing collegial about our Jan. 20, 2021 transfer of power. History will never call the end of Donald Trump’s presidency peaceful either. Fourteen days earlier, the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally crowd was whipped into a frenzy by Trump’s stop-the-steal speech. They bashed and smashed their way into the Capitol as senators and representatives fled. America’s 45th president bitterly refused to attend the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration of our 46th, President Joseph Biden.

We have come to this: A recent New York Times poll showed that 56 percent of Republicans believe America is “in danger of failing as a nation.” But perhaps even more frightening is that 37 percent -- that’s more than one-third -- of all registered voters think so too.

And it’s no wonder. Just think about what our fellow patriots have been hearing and reading about themselves in recent weeks. I’m not talking about TV’s talking heads or print’s pundits. I’m not even talking about mainstream media’s journalists that many of you are being told to disrespect and ignore. No, I’m talking about the facts that have been gathered by inquiries from the watchdogs from your side of today’s politics (whichever side you’re on).

Just read the direct quotes and explanations given by all those who have been indicted in states in which the Trump lawyers carefully planned fraudulent efforts and then dispatched their trusting true-believers in key swing states to sign documents stating that they were certified Trump presidential electors whose side had won the 2020 presidential election. The problem was that they had not been certified as victors -- because indeed the certified vote totals showed Biden won in their states.

These fake electors then attempted to deliver their faked certifications to their state capitals. They -- and those who planned their misrepresentation -- are now indicted and awaiting trial. No wonder 37 percent of us fear our USA is in danger of failing.

We are entrapped in an Electoral College system that made grand and innovative sense back when it was created by our Founding Fathers. But it no longer makes sense today. The Electoral College system invites fraud and fakery -- and makes no sense in the 21st century. Its usefulness and sensibleness is long past. It is time for us to begin a national conversation -- and create a far simpler, more sensible system that will empower Americans to make our democracy great again.

Martin Schram

Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. -- Ed.

(Tribune Content Agency)