Undoing the Trump Autocracy and Unifying the Country: What are the first steps?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Morgan Carroll, Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, is asking  on Facebook: What are your ideas for how you would bring the country together in the post-Trump era?

Ideas from commenters repeat common themes: Fix or replace the ACA with Medicare for All. Form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Start a new Civilian Conservation Corps. Time and Wine.

My answer to Morgan’s question: 1. Beat COVID. That’s our country’s unifying moon shot. We need universal vaccinations and public health measures. 2. This requires funding, so –  Undo the Trump tax cuts and enforce existing tax law so that there is revenue to rebuild social infrastructure.

3. Then focus on creating equality of opportunity. End structural racism and obviously discriminatory laws: Muslim ban, DACA deportations, stop and frisk laws that target people of color, end qualified immunity for police, rescind the transgender ban, codify respect for tribal law and treaty rights for Native territories,and finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Restore the Voting Rights Act and implement  national fair voting standards.

4. And somewhere along the way, do what they did in the 1930s: Argue about what Democracy means, and why it is / isn’t worth saving.

1930s forum picture, Library of Congress

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress; flyers for the public forums of the 1930s

The Last Time Democracy Almost Died,” by Jill Lepore in the New Yorker, explores the decline of democracies and rise of authoritarian regimes in the 1930s. She argues for a return to the public forums of the New Deal era, which debated many controversies of the day.

 It’s a paradox of democracy that the best way to defend it is to attack it, to ask more of it, by way of criticism, protest, and dissent…

The meetings began at a quarter to eight, with a fifteen-minute news update, followed by a forty-five-minute lecture, and thirty minutes of debate. The idea was that “the people of the community of every political affiliation, creed, and economic view have an opportunity to participate freely.” When Senator Guy Gillette, a Democrat from Iowa, talked about “Why I Support the New Deal,” Senator Lester Dickinson, a Republican from Iowa, talked about “Why I Oppose the New Deal.” Speakers defended Fascism. They attacked capitalism. They attacked Fascism. They defended capitalism. Within the first nine months of the program, thirteen thousand of Des Moines’s seventy-six thousand adults had attended a forum.

WPA forums collection, Library of Congress

Let’s argue about Dmocracy freely, with ground rules for civil discourse. This will require  mutual agreement on standards of civil discourse,  truth and evidence that any high school debate team would accept, but that seem impossible in the toxic stew of  disinformation today.

We have many more forums now than the radio shows of the 1930s. , We have dozens of social media platforms, hundreds of broadcast channels. Some of these  are starting to develop and enforce ground rules, finally; harmful falsehoods and foreign propaganda are barely curbed now on Facebook and Twitter.

In the time of COVID, we’re not going to all be physically meeting to debate. But we don’t have to. Most Americans are used to attending virtual remote meetings now. If a moderated  “American Town meeting” were held, with ground rules, simultaneously on a variety of platforms and media, with a Question of the Week type format, I think it would be healthy for our democracy and unifying for our country.

What do you think? What, in your opinions, are the first steps for undoing the Trump Toxins and resetting democracy?

About kwtree

Retired teacher, aspiring writer, doting grandma. Nosy, curious, persistent.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. notaskinnycook says:

    Biden’s already said that he’s going to be signing a stack of E.O.s as soon as he’s sworn in to rescind as much of the Dumpster Fire as possible without Congress. From there, he’ll have to wrangle with them to do the rest, but unlike some people, he understands how Congress works and I think he’ll be successful.


    • kwtree says:

      You're right, cook, according to the Washington Post.

      Rejoin Paris Climate Accord? check. Also reverse 100  Trump exec orders stripping environmental  and health rules and regulations.

      Reverse Muslim Ban and DACA deportations? check.

      Listen to experts and get to work on containing COVID19? check

      Repeal liability protections for gun makers? check

      Repeal tax cuts? check (Georgia Senate election result pending)

      New ethics guidelines and limit to executive entanglement with Justice Department? check, but "guidelines" have no force in law; hence, a future corrupt administration can and will ignore them.

      I'm not seeing the commitments to universal health care, voting integrity, raising minimum wage and civil rights that I'd like to see, but then, that will depend on winning Senate power and ending Moscow Mitch's blockade, and after that, continued public pressure on our representatives.


  2. MichaelBowman says:

    Looks like his post-presidency may now include some time with the Scottish legal system: 

    There may or may not be Sean Connery karma involved 🙃

    Scots ministers told to seek ‘unexplained wealth order’ for Donald Trump resorts

    The mechanism, introduced in 2018, is an attempt to force the owners of assets to disclose their wealth. If a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot show a legitimate source for their riches, then authorities can apply to a court to seize the property.

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    First, . . .

    . . . Lock him up.

    Or, maybe that's second, right after — Drag him out?

    . . . But, those are "shoulds"; what I actually expect will happen is the naming of some "high-level bipartisan commissions" to study some stuff.

  4. JohnInDenver says:

    First (and perhaps most unpleasant) task:  people willing to make an effort need to go to where those who are NOT interested are, and be there.  Not to debate.  Not to lecture.  But be there to mildly object when there are absolute statements about the Democrats, or the Blacks, or the Immigrants, or whatever "OTHER" is being called out.

    Consistently breaking into the bubble with real people makes a difference.  Look at what happened with the electoral and judicial reaction to homosexuality when ordinary people started coming out, explaining who they were,  Or think of the societal change on marijuana when it became apparent who was partaking. 

    I'm getting a copy of  The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) tomorrow to re-read and see what has held up since the 2010 publication. 

    • kwtree says:

      “Being there” for respectful civic debate is what those forums in the 1930s were about. I like the idea of emulating and adapting them for a modern, socially distanced version. It would have to be a consistent format across platforms and media markets. 

      Foreign interference is more sophisticated and pervasive- trolling is a new art form. Our Soon- to-be ex-President got elected and grew a 40% hardcore base using very crude stereotypes (Mexicans are rapists, Muslims and Black Lives Matter activists are terrorists, suburban women are endangered by low-income housing). Not too different from the Nazi propagandists’ portrayal of predatory hook-nosed scary Jews. 

      But most people aren’t buying into it, as evidenced by the Biden/Harris victory. I think modern “civics forums” debating controversial issues could help heal the country. As a fellow high school debate coach and judge, you’ve seen the transformation as students develop the ability to step out of their political opinion bubble and argue the opposing side. What if adults had to do that to get their 15 minutes of glory?

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