This continues Politics Part 1 , On New Year’s Eve, Goodbye to the Future; Politics Part 3, and particularly, Politics Part2.
The Committee narrative comes as no surprise to me, with my anticipation given in Coup in the United States? In May of 1964, this almost happened… , Coup Still Possible from Inside Government. See also (CNN) New Trump revelations underscore his undimmed danger.
- Will the cogent story told by the Committee significantly influence the electorate?
- Will the knot-in-the-stomach fear described by John Dean, who considers the surrounding conspiracy much worse than Watergate, realize in the loss of democracy? (CNN) Opinion: The essential difference between Nixon and Trump, according to John Dean.
- Will democracy survive in attenuated form, as suggested by George F. Will?
- Why is the crisis now?
In the hard sciences, the approach to a problem tends to have a limited, exclusive structure, with the goal of resolving contradictions over time. In the social sciences, to which political science belongs, mutually contradictory ideas persist indefinitely. There is no monopoly on starting points or solutions, no proofs of truth or falsity.
So where do we start? With the surprising vulnerability of Republicans to a charismatic authoritarian figure? (The Hill) Sasse claims ‘the right wants a strongman daddy figure’. The appearance of such a figure explains the “now”, but it is not the beginning of the story. For that, we must look to our genes, and their manifestation in political culture from ancient times.
We might cast our eyes on Greek democracy, circa 500-300 B.C. Around 375 B.C., stimulated by the instability of the Greek city-states, Plato authored The Republic, which has captivated some with the promise of stable, just government. Although Plato’s solution has never been realized, Plato’s five regimes, 2400 years in the past, arguably anticipate every subsequent form of government. These definitions do not themselves spell doom; it’s the transition from democracy to tyranny, described by Plato, that dogs us like a family curse.
Political science draws broadly from the social sciences. In Western democracies, the assumption that the system will endure results in a media tactical focus. Statistical models and sophisticated punditry dominate. Complacency avoids recognition that our system is a consensual box, with consent in danger. From the inside, the consensual walls are not visible. The dynamics of how and why the electorate may (or may not!) consider the box a thing of value is visible only from an out-of-the-box viewpoint.
The problem facing American democracy is ancient. Although Plato anticipated the present, the solution he proposed is distant to Western thought and unpalatable to just about everybody. The hour is late, but it’s worth a try to create a new garden for democracy.
In the next article, we will turn the lens on the many dimensions that characterize a problem of the social sciences.
Think outside the box.