Is this the end of the democracy experiment?

I have a degree in Modern History, a subject weakly valued by American employers (don’t get me started!). One of my university tutors, Theodore Zeldin, was a simultaneous translator at the Nuremberg trials and a world expert on the great slump and the rise of Hitler. He spoke thirteen European languages, and  personally knew and interviewed several of the Nazi war criminals. His message was, ‘don’t think it can’t happen again. There is always a potential ruthless autocrat in the wings.’

I never thought about, or feared, a replay of those terrible Nazi years, but when a Trump administration insider commented that the current crisis was all a “bit” reminiscent of the “late” Weimar Republic, it rang a raucous bell. Uneasiness is, by definition, bad for ataraxia.  For the weak and aimless Weimar regime read the current non-functional, corrupted system and it’s chronic inequalities.

Society’s guardrails have crashed, and the volk are already bullying State leaders  with guns, even before the full effects of the pandemic have done their worst and normal people are badly affected.  What was frighteningly unimaginable could be very real.

Election day is six months away. The US may experience 25% unemployment and economic collapse. We stand to witness “between 100,000 and 240,00 American lives lost”, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, and she is a White House employee. As for the protesters, Birx labelled their conduct “devastatingly worrisome”.

Life and death are on the line, and severe economic and health effects can, and will, have unforeseen effects.  How this plays out at the ballot box remains to be seen. But history tells us: not well. You think an autocrat at the helm can never happen here? Hah!

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