Be Ready When it Happens

There is so much to monitor, fret over and fight back against right now. It can be overwhelming. Like you, I'm watching the reality show parade through Trump Tower and his cabinet selections whose only apparent qualification is their collective incompetence. 

But there's something else that must stay in the forefront of our minds and that we must be ready for. Because it will happen and it could be the catalyst for much worse to come. Consider the following:

Turkey: A successful secular democracy with a thriving, diverse economy. 93 years of democratic government.

2016: A coup attempt. President Erdogan used the coup as an excuse to suspend human rights, arrest thousands of teachers and political rivals and is purging all opposition.

France: Another successful democracy with a progressive tradition. A pillar of NATO and the EU. The birthplace of European democracy.

2015: A terrorist attack in Paris. President Hollande imposes a state of emergency, suspending civil rights and allowing police to do warrantless searches, to break up meetings and assemblies and to impose a curfew.

India: A multi-lingual diverse democracy whose economic growth has been exponential. 67 years of democratic government.

2014: Riots in Uttar Pradesh between Hindus and Muslims prior to the election of Prime Minister Modi, a far right Hindu nationalist. Modi immediately suspended human rights and arrested opposition leaders including professors and journalists.

United States: The world's oldest constitutional democracy, a prosperous nation admired around the world. 233 years of democratic government.

2001: A terrorist attack destroys the World Trade Center at the heart of Wall Street. Bush declares a state of emergency, increasing the surveillance powers of the government, suspending military limits, and authorizing torture and imprisonments without due process.

Germany: After World War I, Germany established the democratic Weimar Republic. Germany had the world's most educated populace. 14 years of democratic government.

1933: After the Reichstag (Congress) building burnt, Hitler seized power and declared a state of emergency. You know the rest of the story.

Ancient Rome: The early republic saw a gradual erosion of central authority and increasing power of the common people against the patricians. 441 years of an increasingly democratic republic.

63 BC: An agrarian revolt in the provinces is suppressed. Julius Caesar becomes leader for life and wrests power from the Senate.

These are all democratic nations that fell to tyrants' power grabs. Throughout history, moments of crisis (real or manufactured) have been the excuses for tyrants to overturn hard-fought citizens rights.

I can't tell you whether it will be a terrorist attack, civil unrest, a protest, a natural disaster, or a call for war in some far off land. But something will happen, something that requires a thoughtful, mature response. Our new president will fail that test and has already revealed his disdain for due process, the constitution and the rule of law.

We need to be ready. We need to ready our fellow citizens. Rights are predictably surrendered in times of fear.