Kendall Stanley: The threat to our democracy

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
J. Michael Luttig, retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and informal advisor to Mike Pence before testifying on June 16, 2022 before the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol.
J. Michael Luttig, retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and informal advisor to Mike Pence before testifying on June 16, 2022 before the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol.

“Democracy,” J. Michael Luttig said, “is on a knife’s edge.”

Don’t know Michael Luttig? I didn’t either, but he is a former U.S. appellate court judge who was twice considered by President George W. Bush for the Supreme Court.

Luttig was testifying before the Jan. 6 committee in regards to what he told Vice President Mike Pence. He told Pence that he could not do what Trump wanted him to do, which was interject himself into the process of ratifying the electoral count and set the stage for the election to be overturned.

As writer Dan Balz noted in The Washington Post, his presentation to the committee was understated but his written statement was a warning about keeping our democracy.

Luttig described America as “adrift” and said he prays that it is only for a fleeting moment in the long span of American history. But his diagnosis of what he called “an immoral war” is frightening in its implications. He wrote: “We Americans no longer agree on what is right or wrong, what is to be valued and what is not, what is acceptable behavior and not, and what is and is not tolerable discourse in civilized society.”

He lays the war at the feet of former president Donald Trump.

Americans cannot agree on how to be governed or by whom or on a set of shared values, beliefs and goals. The attack that Trump instigated, he argued, was a natural “and foreseeable culmination” of the broader war for America. Trump was prepared to execute a plan to overturn the election to cling to power “that the American people had decided to confer upon his successor.”

Kendall P. Stanley
Kendall P. Stanley

The war launched by Trump that day has not ceased, and Luttig argued that the former president’s false insistence that he won the 2020 election has “laid waste to Americans’ confidence in their national elections” with potentially tragic consequences. He asserted that Trump’s insistence that he will not allow any future election to be “stolen” — an indication that he is prepared to subvert the 2024 election if he or a designated nominee loses — is “an affront without precedent” to American democracy.”

Luttig condemned Trump’s Republican Party, which to this day 18 months later cannot say if Jan. 6 was “good or bad, right or wrong … needed or not.”

And Americans are warring, notably Republicans, and if the war is going to end they have to make the first move.

Don’t think so? The Texas Republican Party held its convention last weekend and adopted a platform that winds the clock back decades.

According to The New York Times, The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” And of course marriage is between a biological male and biological female.

Some parts of the platform even continued to call for an audit of the 2020 election because, you know, Trump won and Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president. Yes, according to the Texas Republican Party Biden was not legitimately elected president.

It was all the voting in those big cities in the swing states that provided the election shenanigans that put Biden in office, according to the Texans.

Another part of the platform is a section indicating Texas has the right to secede from the U.S., and calls for the state legislature to vote in favor of the secession platform. As Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote Tuesday, bye-bye.

Witnesses reveal Pence's role opposing the overturning 2020 election results on Jan. 6
Witnesses reveal Pence's role opposing the overturning 2020 election results on Jan. 6

Luttig suggests Americans need to talk to one another, to come back to the common good. While noble, one can’t help but think that is a stretch too far.

How do you come together when legislatures in many states try to outlaw, for example, parents trying to get care for their transgender children? Those same legislatures who decry any attempt by the state to impose its will on its citizens feels more than willing to outlaw things they feel shouldn’t be happening in American society.

How do you reconcile one party that looks at same-sex marriage as the affirmation of love between two people and the other party that sees that as an abomination in the eyes of God?

As to who can end the cultural wars and go first in trying to end it lies with the party of Trump.

One can easily suggest that with Trump still around the possibility of that scenario is slim to none.

But if we don’t learn any lessons from Jan. 6, Luttig asserts, we are consigning ourselves to another Jan. 6, and another and another.

Mike Pence stood up for democracy on Jan. 6, but who will stand up the next time?

— Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the News-Review. He can be contacted at kendallstanley@charter.net. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees. 

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Kendall Stanley: The threat to our democracy