A new book, “How Democracies Die,” is an interesting analysis of what is happening in this country. The authors say norms are important to a society. Two of the most important are mutual toleration and institutional forbearance.

The authors write there are “Four measures on our litmus test for autocrats 1. Weak commitment to the democratic rules of the game (claiming voter fraud, wouldn’t accept results of election); 2. Denial of the legitimacy of one’s opponents (birther problem against Obama, locking up Clinton); 3. Toleration or encouragement of violence. (embraced and encouraged violence at rallies); 4. Readiness to curtail the civil liberties of rivals and critics (threatening media, claiming media lies).”

Trump and many Republicans meet those four tests. How can they credibly defend this country’s democracy?

Politics should not be an “I win, you lose” situation. Politics should be reaching what is the best compromise for the good of this country. Rivals in the political process should be treated with mutual toleration and respect. Those are not in the Constitution. They do set a standard for how politicians should behave to make democracy function.

Partisan hatred threatens the spirit of the Constitution. It can subvert the system of checks and balances. If norms of mutual toleration and respect are abandoned, this nation will cease being a democracy.

Stan Tetenman, Poland


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