Why am I so hung up on the democracy stuff?

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

Some of my social media friends wonder why I’m so focused and adamant in my advocacy for democracy and the rule of law. Why can’t you just post cute memes, memories, and family events like we do? I come by it honestly.

For three years my wife, Liz, and I lived in communist Czechoslovakia where I served as a U.S. diplomat. We experienced a country with no democracy and no rule of law. We saw the impact of communism on lives, society, and government. Then we witnessed the country’s liberation in the (thankfully bloodless) Velvet Revolution in the fall of 1989.

Liz likes to quote Václav Havel, the dissident playwright turned president of newly-democratic Czechoslovakia. He called communism the slow and insidious murder of the human spirit. He was right.

Republicans yell “communism” anytime a government does something they don’t like. Do they even know what communism is? FYI, “communism” is the Leninist political system overlaying the Marxist economic system of socialism during the Soviet era.

Soviet communism was characterized by:

  • no free and fair elections;
  • an absence of truth: lies, lies, and more lies;
  • law enforcement and courts that target political enemies and favor regime elites;
  • compliant politicians and elected officials;
  • misinformation and propaganda across all media;
  • violence to suppress dissent and intimidate enemies;
  • a constitution that is not enforced;
  • government employment based on loyalty to the regime instead of expertise, competence, and accountability;
  • cronyism and corruption enriching regime elites; and
  • indoctrination based on a party line, including book banning.

There’s nothing inherently left or right about that kind of political system. Communism shares much with fascism. The ends of the left-right political spectrum form a circle and join on the far side: red meets brown.

Voters need to understand that Donald Trump and MAGA are promising a similar system here beginning on January 20, 2025. They’ve already started.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Donald Trump and his cronies; read about the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, which lays out a blueprint for a second Trump term. Trump and MAGA are remarkably open about their plans. Ignore them at your peril.

Too many Americans take democracy and the rule of law for granted. It’s like when one fish swam up to another fish and asked, “How’s the water?” The other responded, “What water?”

Top photo of Donald Trump originally published on his political Facebook page in February 2024. Top photo of Václav Havel in 2006 is by Jiří Jiroutek, available via Wikimedia Commons.

About the Author(s)

Jim Chrisinger

  • Yes, and Democrats threaten democracy too

    Chrisinger makes a good case that the MAGA crowd threatens democracy, a trend that culminated with the refusal to concede the Presidential election of Biden.

    Read also Rod Dreher, Live not by Lies, to see how Democrats threaten freedom of speech and democracy. The book also starts by a reference to communist societies.

  • Excellent Piece

    Many of the characteristics of strongman rule that Jim summarized are already in play in the Trump Republican Party and are the future plan, as he notes, though Project 2025.

    The light is flashing red. Democracy is on the ballot. The first step for preserving our constitutional democracy and the rule of law is to vote Democratic up and down the ballot in 2024.

  • Thank you, Jim Chrisinger

    You said it well. I’ve done a little reading on Project 2025. From the erasure of climate change reduction to the erasure of reproductive choice, it’s scary.

  • Project 2025

    I didn’t read all of Project 2025, but I read the chapters on the EPA and Department of Interior, since those deal with environmental policy. They were so full of lies, misrepresentations, and spin that it was hard to even make sense of it. Any policy in a Trump administration based on Project 2025 would be not be based on reality.

  • Thanks Jim

    Drawing upon your own Eastern European experience –drew my attention.