I have lived through 5 coups d’état. I know a coup d’état when I see one. USA is living through one right now as we speak. A Coup doesn’t have to have guns (yet) and a military takeover of power to be one.
A nation is manipulated through a series of fiendishly planned rolling crises. Inchoate mass fear grows but its targeting is skillfully re-directed toward infighting, such that it becomes diffuse and rather impotent against the actual instigators. Trust for government and national institutions grows rancid.
Then a messiah runs to the rescue, suspends the constitution, promises to get rid of “waste, fraud, & abuse.” Says the abrogation of said Constitution is only “temporary.” Commandeers media to support “the people” in their new “Freedom, Liberty, Fraternity”. Flag and anthem totems resurge in fresh parades glorifying the mother/fatherland. Power has been seized. Resistance is futile.
My native country went 5 times through this familiar choreography in its first 24 years after independence from colonial rule. Western Scholars of “the Third World” posited that these upheavals were the result of societies that had yet to build:
1. Strong Democratic governing institutions, rather than strongmen
2. Consensus of the governed
3. A national Identity rather than ethnic loyalties
4. An educated ruling elite that creates mechanisms for distributing political power efficiently among different constituencies
5. Capitalist ethos that productively harnessed and competitively rewarded the nation’s talents
6. Rule of Law and a Constitution that balanced majority rule with protecting minority rights
USA Today: President Obama says he’s older and wiser than he was during the heady 2008 campaign, and he has a more complicated message urging voters to stick with him as the country slowly digs out of “a very deep hole” on the economy.
So is the election less fun, the second time around?
“Well, I’ll tell you, it’s different,” he says with a slightly pained expression on his face, then offers: “But the plane is a lot nicer.”
At this moment, Obama is perched on the edge of a swivel chair in his office on that nicer plane, also known as Air Force One, his shirt sleeves rolled up. On the first leg of four days of travel that will take him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, he talked with USA TODAY about his Thursday acceptance speech, his policy priorities for a second term and the lessons he’s learned about the need to take his case to the American people over the heads of a polarized Congress.