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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 10/12/21

How Far Down the Road Towards Fascism Has America Gone?

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We are close to either a collapse or a renewal of democracy: which way will America go?

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While there's apparently "nothing to see here" when it comes to conservative media outlets and even, in many ways, mainstream media, it's worth asking the question: "How far down the road toward authoritarian oligarchy, or even outright fascism, have we gone?"

The answer to that question informs our understanding of how close in time we may be to some sort of "final" crisis, and to how easy or difficult it will be to pull back and preserve a functioning democratic republic.

We've already passed through several stages that it's important to note, by way of orienting ourselves in time. And we must repeatedly check in on this to keep our bearings.

As a German college professor told reporter and author Milton Mayer just after World War II when Mayer essentially asked him, "How could you guys have let this happen?":

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it please try to believe me unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures' that no 'patriotic German' could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."

Back in the 1960s, my friend (in later years) Tom Hayden helped kick off Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) with his brilliant Port Huron Statement. It was before the Vietnam War, and SDS was committing itself to racial and gender justice and a world without the omnipresent threat of nuclear war.

"Our work is guided," Hayden wrote, "by the sense that we may be the last generation in the experiment with living."

My own experience in and with SDS was in the late 1960s as we were becoming a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement, under attack by the media, the FBI, and local police trying to use everything from drug laws to the draft to tear us apart.

I remember the guy we later learned was a police informant constantly trying to get some of us to burn down the MSU ROTC Building; the crisis of the Ohio National Guard's murders at Kent State; and our growing conviction that our nation's government was growing more and more remote from the people it governed.

But President Johnson, who was prosecuting the war and sentencing my friends to death via the draft, had also formally and legally declared the beginning of the end of legal apartheid in America with his Civil Rights Act; expanded the nation's social safety net with Medicare and Medicaid; and banned state governments from forbidding Black people and other minorities from voting.

Little did we realize what our government would do in the next 50 years.

As Hayden wrote, "Freedom and equality for each individual, government of, by, and for the people these American values we found good, principles by which we could live as [citizens]."

But in this past 50 years:

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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