The online news for the students and staff at Somerset Berkley Regional High School

The Breeze

The online news for the students and staff at Somerset Berkley Regional High School

The Breeze

The online news for the students and staff at Somerset Berkley Regional High School

The Breeze

As a student run newspaper the Breeze expects readers to contact our editorial staff using the comment box below every story for all questions or concerns.
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Are We at the End of Politics?

Artwork by Jeffrey Smith

After the second Republican presidential debate of this election cycle, MSNBC’s Joy Reid asked a panel of her co-hosts and her audience a question that I found harrowing: “Are we at the end of politics?” It is her belief that Republicans have given up on politics and have decided that operating under a democratic institution will no longer serve them. Republicans –while they won’t say so directly– have given up on democracy and are ready to take control by any means necessary. 


Reid notes that Republican politics are becoming increasingly unpopular amongst the American people. Republicans have lost six of out the most recent seven popular votes for presidency and most of their key positions –like banning abortion and allowing close to limitless access to firearms– are highly unpopular amongst the American people. Reid suggests that because these politicians know that they can never sell their ideas to the American electorate the way that politicians historically have had to, they have turned to new methods of gaining control in un-democratic ways. In other words, autocracy. 


So what is autocracy? Has the United States really become more authoritarian? Or is Reid simply fear mongering and making things seem worse than they really are? 


What is autocracy? What are some of the signs of autocratization?

An autocratic government is defined as a “government in which one person possesses unlimited power.”  There are numerous signs of autocratization –the process by which a government becomes more autocratic– and typically these signs go unnoticed by the majority of society until it is simply too late to go back. These signs can include: an overstep of human or civil rights, an attack on the media, an increasing amount of gerrymandering, a movement based on the personality of its leader, a lack of respect for democratic processes, and an increasing amount of voter suppression. 


Has the United States really become more authoritarian?

In my opinion, the United States has autocratized significantly, but in no way is it guaranteed to become an autocracy. The Varieties of Democracy –an independent research group that measures global levels of democracy versus autocracy– declared in its “Democracy Report 2023” that the United States is among many nations that have become less democratic and more autocratic; it sites the increasing spread of misinformation as the leading reason as to why the United States is experiencing autocratization, but there are a multitude of other reasons as well.


How has the United States become more authoritarian?



The Overstep of Human Rights


Amnesty International –an organization that promotes human rights– has highlighted several ways that the United States has violated human rights in the past few years alone, including: overturning Roe v. Wade (which effectively allowed states to ban abortion and take away the American people’s right to bodily autonomy), banning discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, and allowing the excessive use of force from police officers directed towards American citizens.



The Bullying of the Media


Republicans, most famously Donald Trump, have engaged in numerous battles with the American independent media. They claim that all news is “fake news” and not to be trusted. It would take one only a quick Google search to find countless videos of leading Republicans –again, most specifically Donald Trump– arguing with reporters and even threatening them; such as when Donald Trump stated in 2022 that a reporter should be arrested and become “the bride of another prisoner,” calling for sexual violence against said reporter.



Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression


Republicans have resorted to gerrymandering –the reorganization of district boundaries to give one party more of an influence in a state– and suppressing voters in order to make sure less people vote. Why would they do this? They do it because, in recent times, people have voted more often for Democrats than for Republicans. In theory, if less people vote –especially people in large cities where the population is made up of a more liberal, diverse group of people– Republicans have a higher chance of winning. This was made clear when Republicans led a campaign against mail-in ballots throughout the 2020 election and made it illegal to give food or water to people waiting in long voter lines in Georgia in 2021.



The Cult of Personality


The cult of personality is the idea that a party or a political movement is based not on an ideology, but on the personality of a leader. The Republican Party has found this personality in none other than Donald Trump. Republicans who wish to remain in the good graces of the Republican Party are forced to side with Donald Trump if they wish to have any hope in being reelected. Trump supporters have come to love Donald Trump regardless of what political policies he promotes; they simply love the fact that he is a “businessman” and is able to make entertaining comments about his opponents calling them things like “nasty woman” or insinuating that his overweight opponent is too busy eating to be engaged in politics.



A Lack of Respect for Democratic Processes


In my opinion, the most clear sign that the United States is becoming more autocratic is the fact that our respect for democratic processes has almost vanished. Donald Trump and his supporters still believe that he won the 2020 presidential election even as we enter the 2024 election cycle. They have created a “Big Lie” that American elections have become rigged against the Republican party and yet they have no proof or evidence to validate their statements. In fact, the opposite was true; Donald Trump tried to rig the 2020 election by asking Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find 11,780 votes” after the state’s vote had already been reported so that he could win the presidency. When this attempt to overrule the election failed, he incited an insurrection by encouraging his supporters to raid the United States Capitol. 


Is this the end of politics?

Simply put, no one can say if this is the end of politics or not. As of now, America is a democratic country and will continue to be so. The Democrats and media are still willing to play by the rules of democracy; debates are still held, free elections are still supported, and grassroots movements are still alive. Moderate Republicans have held onto the ideals of democracy as well. Only America’s extreme and radical right wing politicians have been actively promoting the ideals of autocracy. If we allow far right extremists to take control of the country once again in 2024 or beyond then, it is possible that we are witnessing the end of American politics as we know it. But, if the left wing of America and its moderate right wing can come together and protect democracy, these extremists will one day be subsided. 


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About the Contributor
Ryan Rose, Editor and Social Media Manager
Ryan is currently in his senior year at Somerset Berkley Regional High School and this is his third year as a member of The Breeze, where he will serve as this year's editor and social media manager. He is also a member of Model UN here at Somerset Berkley. Outside of school, he can often be found either reading a book or practicing the ukulele and piano.  Ryan is also heavily interested in politics and volunteered for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign.

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