Americans are famous for soldiering through crises. The way we live — the way we work, the way we consume, the way we are entertained, the way we worship — is so interwoven and well-oiled that we don’t have to worry about much else. It is a beautiful, free system, the envy of most of the world. Many of us do not have time, or the inclination, to worry too deeply about problems that do not immediately affect us. Some of our private lives are tragically shaken by events beyond our control — crime, illness, disaster — but the magnetic fields of these private tragedies are small. American society at large moves forward.

The last time America was shaken to its core, and we felt a united sense of fear and crisis, was 9/11. Far fewer Americans were appalled and worried about a vigilante mob breaking into the United States Capitol on Jan 6, 2021 to violently try to stop the certification of a valid election. In earlier times, George Washington would have executed such a mob on the spot — he knew an attack on democracy when he saw it.

What can we say about the difference in response between 9/11 and 1/6? And what can we say about the continued, concerted effort by Republicans and their leader, Donald Trump, to hide the obvious fact that he, his advisors, “lawyers” and political sycophants caused it to happen, and were happy when it did? And what can we say about the ham-handed efforts of Republican state governments to limit voting — that is, voting by non-Republicans — in elections going forward?

What we can say is this: American democracy has stage four cancer, and we need to act seriously and fast to save it.

The cancer is that tens of millions of Americans are ready for democracy to end, because they are scared to death of it. They believe that democracy, if left to function as it should, will wipe out their “way of life.” They believe that too many voters do not think the way that they think, do not live the way they live, do not love the way they love, do not believe the way they believe, do not covet what they covet, and therefore they are dangerous, they are lazy and stupid, they are un-American.

The idea that “their” America is too precious to be left to a voting democracy is head-spinningly twisted. Democracy is America. The Constitution is America. The peaceful transfer of power is America.

At the core of this malignancy is Donald Trump, and those who cow-tow to his imperious vanity and his vision of an America fashioned in his golden image. The evidence is mountain-high that Donald Trump thinks America is a business, with himself as CEO. In other words, a King, who can wheel and deal, extort and threaten, and who is, above all, above the law. Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and his team have done a magnificent job of tapping into the fear and hatred of Americans who now want him as King, who have surpassed their patience with the American democratic process. It’s pretty easy: he just tells them to believe, and they do believe, that anything that happens that they don’t like is “fake,” or “rigged,” or “un-American.” “Loss” is an unthinkable concept--the umpire must have been a Democrat.

And so the malignancy grows. Their grievance is not so much with this or that policy or program, but with democracy itself, just like Trump wants it — just like he planned it.

Tens of millions of Americans are way past “disagreeing on issues.” They are done with “talk.” Recently, an attendee at a right-wing rally took the mic and asked the speaker when it was okay to start murdering Democrats with his guns. “When do we get to use the guns?” he asked.

We have to face this: If we do not address this malignancy, America will soon be on life support, and truly free and fair elections will be a thing of the past. As in Communist countries, America will have a one-party system with servient election officials, designed to ensure that The Party never loses power. Violence will become the means of power transfer, if and when it occurs. Those with “the guns” will be those in power.

On 9/11, less than two dozen determined murderers got very, very lucky — their plan went way better than they expected. Our current crisis is worse. You don’t feed a malignancy, you cut it out. If more Americans — mainly Republicans in leadership — do not muster the courage to stand up to this, call it out, and restore faith in the democratic process, then not just airplanes, buildings and lives will fall: America will. Not even Osama bin Laden could have hoped for that.

Nile Kinney is a California attorney. These opinions are his alone and are not meant to represent the views of his professional colleagues or anyone else.

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