Silence will not protect our democracy

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

By Jeff Justice

January 1933, the month and year of my birth, witnessed the inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man of privilege who brought us out of a depression through social programs and an understanding of the needs of the American people. At the same time, in Europe, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. There were many good people who remained silent during his rise to power as their neighbors were taken in by Hitler’s rhetoric and lies. Responding to a fire of questionable origin in the Reichstag, within four weeks he had instituted the Reich Fire Policies and later an Enabling Act, assuring that he would have the power to make and enforce laws without the involvement of the Reichstag, thus bypassing the system of checks and balances. This ultimately led to the loss of individual rights and since the German people were constantly bombarded with lies about the Jewish people, the superiority of Aryans and because too many remained silent, there was tacit acceptance of immoral policies: Kristallnacht, Eugenics and the Holocaust.

There are disturbing parallels in our current political environment. I think the persistent racial and religious rumors surrounding our first black president and echoed by Donald Trump (Obama is a Muslim and was born in Africa) have been accepted by a surprisingly large number of Americans whose judgment has been clouded and confused by politicians more interested in their personal agendas than in the well-being of our democracy.

Email newsletter signup

Why have so many Americans accepted Trump’s lie that his election was stolen despite physical evidence that proves otherwise? Through his rhetoric and actions, he has condoned and encouraged, violence to the end of saving the country from an “illegal presidency” and from an “invasion” of aliens and the scourge of “replacement” of the white race.

Just as German citizens remained silent in the 1930s, many Americans, nearly 100 years later, remain silent when neighbors, friends, and family seem to accept lies concerning the 2020 election and the insurrection of January 6. Unfortunately, silence will not protect our constitutional democracy and should no longer be an option in our Reichstag moment. There should be no shame assigned to the many people who voted for Trump in the 2016 or 2020 election and, as with Bush v Gore, no one should be blamed for demanding a recount, but once that had been accomplished and the result was in, the candidate and his supporters should have accepted the result and participated in the constitutionally mandated peaceful transfer of power. Otherwise, our democracy will be lost.

Jeff Justice