American Democracy –– Will It Live or Die?

Democracies typically morph into a dictatorship when the most powerful general in the country seizes power. For a civilian to succeed in attaining dictatorial rule, complicity on the part of the military is essential. The Founding Fathers, drafters of the U.S. Constitution, sought to establish a system of government that was protected as much as possible against a military takeover. To that end, they provided that the president, rather than a military leader, would be the commander and chief of our country’s armed forces.

What happens when a civilian who is a demagogue and aspiring despot is allowed to stay in power by a phalanx of corrupt and dishonorable senators who ignore his commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, refuse to remove him from office upon justly deserved impeachment, and allow him to place in office a fascistic minded attorney general, secretary of defense, and other powerful officials?

Then, ironically, the military becomes democracy’s last line of defense. The question becomes “Will the top military commanders block the autocratic takeover of our government or will they be complicit in extinguishing our democracy?”

It was a bad sign that General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put on his combat fatigues and traipsed around outside the White House grounds the other night with Trump and the secretary of defense while military forces tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators.

If Trump loses the election November 3rd (unless it’s by an overwhelming landslide), it is virtually certain that he will refuse to concede defeat, initiate a barrage of false claims of voting fraud, direct his autocratically minded attorney general to bring lawsuits in an effort to invalidate election results, and insist that he has a right to remain in office rather than acquiesce in a peaceful transition of power as is required under the Constitution and in keeping with the sacred traditions of our country.

In this event, protests and demonstrations will ensue that dwarf all previous instances by a wide margin, and our top military commanders will face a fateful moment of truth. We have no idea where their highest loyalties would prove to lie.