The Washington Post

How we save democracy

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Sam Rosenfeld’s Jan. 9 Outlook essay, “Democracy is on the brink. For voters, it’s politics as usual.,” noted that, despite the threat the GOP poses to democracy, American politics seems to carry on as usual. I have had conversati­ons with acquaintan­ces who definitely are not Republican­s yet seem to think we could switch from democracy to authoritar­ianism like we switch from jeans to slacks.

Books such as “The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics,” by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, explain well what the costs of authoritar­ianism (often faux democracy) are for a country. Average citizens in authoritar­ian states are sicker, poorer and treated more violently. Corruption is not a “bug” of the system but a tool for perpetuati­ng power. “But the United States has these problems, too,” some say. They ain’t seen nuttin’; these problems are far worse in authoritar­ian states. Words such as “socialism” or “capitalism” are just branding. When political power comes from the collusion of a clique and not broad social assent, that society gets robbed to pay the clique, regardless of the economic brand autocrats adopt.

Thus, part of the drive to save democracy should be reminding Americans that their well-being is at stake. Governance style directly affects their health and wealth. Americans should vote accordingl­y.

Curtis G. Miller, Arlington

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