In an article in the New York Times, the 39th US President Jimmy Carter expressed his fear for his country’s democracy, warning that even established democracies can fall into the hands of dictators and military tyrants, and therefore cannot be allowed to happen in the United States.
He referred to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by violent mobs led by what he called unscrupulous politicians, and how this attempt almost succeeded in preventing the democratic transfer of power.
And one year after that event, Carter added, the promoters of the election theft lie have taken over one political party and cast doubt on our electoral systems, noting that those forces exercise power and influence through persistent misinformation and continue to turn Americans against each other.
Carter pointed to the Survey Center on American Life report that 35% of Americans – nearly 100 million adults across the political spectrum – agree that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so quickly that we may have to use force to save it.” “.
The Washington Post recently reported that nearly 40% of Republicans believe violent action against the government is sometimes justified.
Carter added that politicians in his state of Georgia and in other states have exploited the mistrust they have created to enact laws that enable partisan legislatures to interfere in electoral processes, and seek to win by any means, as many Americans are persuaded to think and act similarly, which threatens to collapse the foundations on which the security of country and its democracy.
Carter now fears that what America has struggled so hard to achieve globally, the right to free and fair elections unhindered by authoritarian politicians who only seek to develop their power, is dangerously fragile at home. He believes that in order for American democracy to continue, we must ask our leaders and candidates to uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of behavior, through the following steps:
What America has striven to achieve globally, the right to free and fair elections unhindered by authoritarian politicians who only seek to develop their power, is dangerously fragile at home.
First, while citizens can disagree about policies, people of all political stripes must agree on basic constitutional principles and standards of fairness and respect for the rule of law, that citizens be able to participate easily in transparent and secure electoral processes, and claims of electoral wrongdoing should be brought in good faith to adjudicate in which the courts, with all participants agreeing to accept the results, and that the electoral process be conducted peacefully and free from intimidation and violence.
Second, press for reforms that guarantee security and access to elections and ensure public confidence in the accuracy of results, because false allegations of illegal voting and multiple pointless checks detract from democratic ideals.
Third, the polarization that reshapes identity around politics must be resisted, and we must focus on some basic facts: We are all human, we are all Americans, and we have common hopes for the prosperity of our communities and our country. We must find ways to re-engage across division, respectfully and constructively, through civic dialogues with family, friends, and co-workers, and collectively standing up to the dividing forces.
Fourth: Violence has no place in our politics, and we must act urgently to pass or strengthen laws to reverse the trends of character assassination, intimidation, and the presence of armed militias. We must protect election officials from what threatens their safety. Law enforcement should have the authority to address these issues and engage in a national effort to come to terms with the past and the present.
Finally, the spread of misinformation, especially on social media, must be addressed. And the need to reform these platforms and get used to searching for accurate information. US companies and religious communities should encourage respect for democratic standards, participation in elections, and efforts to counter disinformation.
“Our great nation is now teetering on the brink of a widening abyss,” Carter concluded. “Without immediate action, we are in real danger of civil strife and the loss of our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.”