Don’t worry, ‘we have danced this dance before,’ contends Zachary Karabel, writer for the Washington Post in an article that drew my attention in the Sunday, November 20, 2016 Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch. Karabel denigrates the liberal hue and cry that this election portends the ‘end of our republic.’ (The Columbus Dispatch, Section H, Sunday, November 20, 2016)
He reminds us that the same liberal wail was heard following the elections of Nixon and Reagan. “And yet here we are, decades later, still enamored with the republic they were sure was doomed.” “If the past is at all prologue, we will find that the sum of all our fears amounts to far less than many of us now believe.”
Yes, we are still a republic after Nixon and Reagan. After Nixon, we are a republic profoundly changed by the ‘Southern Strategy’ of the Richard Nixon-Kevin Phillips campaign that reinforced the political South in its indelible racially biased stain. Apparently the normalization of racism is OK? I do not find such racism a norm by which I want my republic measured.
Yes, we are still a republic following Ronald Reagan’s role, playing a statesman and leader of the Free World. It was not however, an Oscar-worthy performance, and it left our republic a lesser institution. Are we a stronger republic for Reagan, as President-elect, actively undermining the foreign policy of his predecessor? Are we a better republic for Reagan’s having cooperated/approved supplying arms to Contras in the Nicaraguan war? Well, that is the normalization of our republic left in Reagan’s wake.
The Reagan Legacy is a republic with a norm that applauds/approves the invasion and destruction of a country and culture based upon lies and fabrications regarding weapons of mass destruction. That is not the normal that assures me that I have less to fear from a diminished republic.
Karabe says that Trump has ‘tapped into a dark anger to an exceptional degree,’ but doubts this will lead down the “ugly road’ of earlier times and other countries. As an assurance that such is a mere possibility but not a probability, Karabe ends on the cheery note that ‘we have danced this dance before.”
A danse macabre is hardly a reassuring image. It is a rite to drive home our fragile mortality, as individuals and republics.