You know the old sayings, "history repeats itself" and "everything old is new again"? Mike Lofgren over at TruthOut has a great piece entitled How Democracies Die that is well worth the read:
Picture a country at the height of its international power and prestige. It has military forces stationed around the globe. It is an intellectual leader. Its citizens are pleased to insist that the national idea, their country's way of life, is a beacon of enlightenment and human rights for the rest of the world. Indeed, they are wont to harp on the notion that the country embodies the very concept of Western Civilization.Sounds familiar, does it? Go ahead and read it to learn which country it really was (hint: Not the US) and the attendant warning signs that it presents to us in 21st Century America.
But beneath the façade of greatness there is creeping rot. The rich (who are accustomed to getting their way in all things) corrupt the system and buy the people's representatives in this venerable democracy. The country lurches towards political polarization and, predictably, the machinery of orderly governance becomes gridlocked. The politicians of the right, who take every opportunity to bellow for increased spending on the military, refuse to raise the revenues to pay for it. Why?