The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. A week ago, the clock was advanced to two minutes till midnight, based on “the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.” Scary. But we need another Doomsday Clock for our democracy here in the US. We are fast approaching a moment when our institutions will face the test of whether they can stand up to the demands of a crypto-autocrat, who wants to run the Department of Justice as a personal fiefdom. And he is being enabled by his own party who refuse to put country before party. The release of the Nunes memo, and Trump’s declaration that the FBI and the Department of Justice favor the Democrats, sets us on the path to the dismissal of Rod Rosenstein, and his replacement by a DOJ employee prepared to axe Robert Mueller and his investigation. This is willful obstruction of justice, not just by one man, but by an entire Party. There is not, and there never was, any intention to let the Mueller investigation run its course.
President Trump shows all the signs of an autocrat-in-waiting. He has attacked the media incessantly (“enemy of the people”), while finding one news outlet (Fox News and Sean Hannity) which functions as his mouthpiece. He has attacked the independence of the judiciary. He clearly believes the Department of Justice is there to do his bidding. He demonizes his political opponents. It’s “us vs. them.” He lies repeatedly, and through the use of simple slogans, like “Fake News” and “Sad,” he distorts reality to his own ends such that facts are no longer facts. He clearly admires autocratic leaders – Putin, Erdogan, Dutarte, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman-- and has been silent on human rights abuses by “strongmen” leaders around the world.
Timothy Snyder in his excellent book “On Tyranny” warns of the almost imperceptible steps that build on one another to acceptance of authoritarianism. We cannot let this attack on our law enforcement agents and system of justice go unanswered.
Where do you place the hands on Democracy’s Doomsday Clock?