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Greatest threat to US democracy is not Trump, it's us: Nichols

6 371 403
19.08.2021

I’ve written about a lot of unpleasant, even frightening, subjects. For most of my career, I have been a specialist in national security affairs, a cheerless area of study. I’ve written about war, terrorism, and even about the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, a project that required staring at maps and charts of how entire cities would be turned into ash and left for eternity as desolated mass graveyards.

And yet nothing was more difficult than writing about democracy in my own country. In the past, I brought – I hope – a scholarly and dispassionate eye to unpleasant subjects. Now, I was anguished. I was no longer writing about notional future wars or the faraway Russians. Now I was writing about my own people: my fellow citizens, my friends, my neighbors, my family.

And I did not like what I saw.

The people I have always counted on to be patriotic, sensible, and steady – like our ancestors had been under far more trying circumstances than our own – were now sirens of drama and complaint. Everything, they said, is as bad as it’s ever been. These, they were sure, are the worst times ever. We are all victims. Someone must pay.

This is not the America in which I was raised. Something was wrong, and I wanted to know why millions of the citizens of my own nation – some of them near and dear to me – were now, astonishingly, embracing illiberalism and authoritarianism.

And so I wrote "Our Own Worst Enemy," in which I identify what I see as the greatest threat to democracy in the United States: We, the people.

This is hard to say and it was hard to write. It would have been easier to find other culprits and unite with my fellow Americans in a tribal and bracing hatred of globalization, or China, or........

© USA TODAY


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