Open Forum: Do not let America morph into a dictatorship | Winchester Star | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

The Russian invasion of the independent and democratic country of Ukraine is tragic.

A million Ukrainians have fled to the neighboring countries of Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. Cities are in ruins.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is to be lauded for his resolve to save his country from tyranny. He is truly a brave leader and strong advocate for democratic principles. I admire his and the Ukrainian people’s resolve to maintain their freedom against dictator Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s invasion has the support of like-minded authoritarian leaders, in Belarus, India, North Korea, Syria, Pakistan, Eritrea, Cuba, and including twice impeached Donald Trump, who is the GOP’s front runner for President in 2024.

Trump called dictator Putin a “genius” for attacking Ukraine. His admiration for dictators, himself wishing to be one, is in keeping with his slavish subservience to autocrat Putin, to whom he is likely compromised.

Recall, Trump publicly implored Putin to find his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails. The Trump family met with Russians during the 2016 campaign — Donald Trump Jr.’s “If it’s what you say, I love it” meeting to get campaign dirt on Clinton. Trump sided with Putin against his own U.S. intelligence agencies, which reported “with confidence” that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections. Trump held up greatly needed weaponry to Ukraine in exchange for President Zelenskyy providing dirt on Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign — a failed bribery attempt that got Trump impeached. The GOP refused to convict.

During the Jan. 6 insurrection, GOP-supported Fox News commentators were secret advisors to Trump, saying one thing to the president and something entirely different to viewers — underscoring that Fox isn’t a “news” organization at all, but rather a GOP propaganda machine and political policy hacker. It’s what every authoritarian political body throughout history has needed to promote “the big lie.” In America’s case, the lie is that Trump won the 2020 election. (He lost.)

GOP representatives have recently spoken at white nationalist conventions that were in support of Putin without any retribution from Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Lack of condemnation means tacit approval of undemocratic tenets and lends credence to the strong suspicion that the Republican Party has become an authoritarian party. The GOP supports book banning, the degradation of women’s rights, a false narrative taught in our educational curriculum, voter suppression, scapegoating people based on race, creed, color and sexual identity to include violence against them, and a State-controlled media. So do dictatorships.

Soon we will decide if Americans support democracy per the Democratic Party, or autocracy per the former GOP. If Congress turns autocratic, basic democratic norms, such as accepting the results of an election, and Constitutional guarantees, such as a free press reliant on supported facts rather than lies and conspiracy theories, will be by-gone. That possibility is not far down the road.

As we hope for a civilized outcome for Ukrainian and Russian people, indeed for all of Europe, let’s not allow the United States meanwhile to morph into a dictatorship that would make Putin proud.

Michele Winter is a resident of Lake Frederick. 

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