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Letter: Is our democracy endangered?

World democracies are under attack. Authoritarianism is on the rise in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, India and the Philippians. Italian dictator Mussolini once said the path to authoritarianism is like plucking a chicken one feather at a time. 

Republicans won the last election. We are a center right nation. Republicans gained seats in the House, will probably maintain control of the Senate, turned over a governorship and made gains in states’ legislatures. Republicans only lost the presidency. The election of Vice President Biden gives us pause to think and ask ourselves: Are we being plucked like Mussolini’s chicken, one feather at a time? 

The path to authoritarianism can be seen looking back in time. But can we see it in the present? Authoritarianism: 

1. Attacks freedom of the press (“enemy of the people,” fake news).

2. Creates fear of the “other” (migrants and Muslims).

3. Chips around reality with false statements (COVID-19 is a hoax) and/or conspiracy theories (Kellyanne Conway spoke of “alternative” facts” — think CloudStrike).

4. Hallows out institutions (federal agencies depicted as a “Deep State”).   

5. Eviscerates one’s political opponents, fails to fill vacancies with qualified personnel and surrounds one’s self with loyalists.

6. Appoints sympathetic judges to the courts. 

7. Exercises control over the military (as in the attempt to invoke the “Insurrection Act of 1807” to quell protests in the street).

“I have never felt that this president (Trump) has ever truly respected the Constitution, the rule of law and the freedoms embodied in our democratic process.” — Tom Ridge, former GOP governor of Pennsylvania and Homeland Security secretary.

Kenneth Jensen

Albert Lea

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