It’s disguised as news. It calls itself news, because you feel good about watching the news. It’s important! It’s adult! It’s responsible! And then the news manages to do two things: normalize the aberrant and stoke the delusion.
Think about it:
1998: Impeachment is trivialized and weaponized to the point where it becomes a political gesture rather than an actual tool of last resort. Media covers it like a football game.
2000: the Electoral College and Supreme Court combine to elect a new President with fewer votes than his opponent for the first time since 1876. This is treated as a colorful fluke, not a problem in need of resolution.
2009: the GOP weaponizes the filibuster to the point of paralyzing the government. The press blithely absorbed the idea that “a bill needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate” as if it were tradition for two hundred years and not a new development.
2011: the GOP begins hostage-taking with the federal debt limit, replacing the usual symbolic finger-wag votes with an actual game of chicken that results in the credit rating of the United States being reduced from AAA for the first time in history. Once again, treated as a reality show fight rather than a torpedo at the waterline of American governance.
2016: Donald Trump, obviously. But her emails!
Also 2016: a Senate majority leader refuses to allow a Supreme Court nomination to come to a vote for eleven months, in order that it might be available to be filled by his own party instead.
2020: the same Senate majority leader rushes through a Supreme Court nomination seven weeks before an election, in order that it might not be available to be filled by the other party.
2021: the loaded Supreme Court blithely participates in an unprecedented exercise to avoid judicial review. Shrugs.
2021: multiple states begin engineering their voting systems to ensure a GOP win in future Presidential elections, even irrespective of voting, by allowing the state legislature to pick whoever it likes as the winner of the electoral votes. Shrugs.
The reason American democracy hangs by a thread is because the catamites and useful idiots in the press have spent decades saying “that could never happen” and “that would never happen” and describing as Chicken Littles the folks reporting what is actually already happening as the Sabbath Gasbags of the Potomac green rooms chortle and pontificate. The United States hangs on the edge of a cliff because two Senators are in love with the taste of their own genitals and an entire political party is devoted to the sole goal of partisan advantage at any expense, including the full faith and credit of the United States, and are prepared to risk recession and financial Armageddon if it makes Democrats look bad.
That, in short, is why we are doomed as a nation: the GOP cares about nothing but clinging to power by whatever means possible. The power is the point. Not to necessarily do anything with it, just to prevent anyone else having it. And it is enabled by a whole cosmos of grifters and hustlers who make money off of flogging the fear. There was a thought one time that demographics might solve this, but it was before Facebook and Fox News built a self-sustaining ecosystem of vaccine deniers, white supremacists and conspiracy nutballs.
We are doomed, and damned, because the Republican party decided in the 1990s that the worst thing that could ever happen to the human race was for someone other than them to be in charge. Climate change, economic ruin, possible nuclear war, but all worth it if it keeps the Democrats down. And it will cost us a nation, if it hasn’t already.