America is at a crossroads. A point of no return. A democratic society cannot really survive the three assaults above, and go on being one. They may seem like just daily events in the ongoing sad saga of a troubled nation — but they are not just that. They contain great significance to history, which I feel American intellectuals are doing a poor job of interpreting and presenting to the American people. Let me take them one by one.
When a society has a leader who claims to not just be above the law — but to be the law — then such a society cannot be a democracy, or a constitutional republic, a res publica, the “public affair” of the classical Greeks. When a leader has absolute power, then rights cannot be said to exist, and there is no point to voting, representation, or legislation. If the will of the people, or their representatives, can be abrogated at any time, by a leader who can “pardon” anyone absolutely for anything, beginning with himself, then democracy ceases to matter in any way whatsoever — that is how you get to “90% of people vote for Putin!”, every single election.
Now, I am sure that you have had similar thoughts. But I want you to really understand it. When a society crosses this line, there is usually no going back. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Rome was finished. When the Sun King declared “l’etat, c’est moi”, “I am the state”, the French ancien regime was finished — the revolution was a foregone conclusion. And the same is true in America. If this line is crossed, there is likely to be no way back to democracy.