A Modest Proposal for the Assisted Demise of Democracy

For which babies boiled and fricasseed provide both inspiration and a cautionary tale. With thanks and apologies to J. Swift.

Lisa Van Dusen/For The Hill Times

February 13, 2020

         It is a melancholy object to those tethered by screens ubiquitous when they see the sorry spectacle of democracy in its current state of abashment.

The sudden, precipitous reversal of fortune for a system of governance that has, for so long, represented at least in aspirational form the highest ideals of man and often enough fulfilled them to ensure its survival has been both a bewilderment and a blight.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts as to a remedy, which I strongly suspect will not be liable to the least objection.

Firstly, it would behoove the perpetrators of this mercy garrotting to ease the parting of the people from their franchise by assiduously and energetically portraying the decoupling as more gift than theft by making democracy seem as dysfunctional, tiresome, revolting and befouled as possible.

This might be accomplished through the redirection of highly specialized operators — currently under-occupied geopolitically, over-resourced borderlessly and toiling at levels of omniscience and omnipotence heretofore unheard of — to this task. As interests long burthened by the torments of oversight and annoyances of democracy-decreed accountability, they would surely lunge at the chance to bestow their skills of narrative tapestry on an unsuspecting reality.

In such endeavour, stealthy scouts could scour the land for none but the most corruptible trolls and tyrants to misrepresent the will of a people unaware of the artifice, assaulted hourly by the effrontery of verbal flogging and seized of a ceaseless fury at the damnable system that licensed it. While the people are debased in their expectations, recalibrated of perception by concocted contrast and deceived into an opportune panic by the contrived want of a dragon slayer, whited sepulchres more corrupt for their cunning will await their turn on stage, playing saviours in the charlatan’s wake to groundlings grateful and gentry beholden.

Secondly, to infuse it all with authentic import, the pamphleteers and criers, heralds and scribes will convey, portray and “hear ye!” the news as news, not a tale told by an idiot to fill the public square with such stuff as nightmares are made on, the better to tenderize the public for the real heist to come. Amid a conjured tempest of lies, lies and more lies, the lies about this will seem anything but too bad to be true.

Thirdly, a decoy suspect shall be designated for the snuffing, ideological of motive and existential of threat, who can systematically undermine the health of the victim with incentives and inducements to its sundry harassers while providing cover and diversion for the real assailants.

Fourthly, all the measures of victor and vanquished, blessed and cursed, good and bad, right and wrong and of whom the people deem deserving of each moniker shall be thwarted by hackery and taint toward preposterous outcomes, making it impossible to either judge or judge the judgment. The ensuing whirlwind will shame and discredit all that need smearing to reap it by clearing the battlefield of any dagger but one, to rid the people not only of the scoundrel but of the rustled Trojan Horse he rode in … in — a hijacked, perverted process.

In this battle the drama not the dagger is the weapon, for it replaces life with ruse, play with ploy and the people with a contorted, mad reflection, bereft of discernment and reckless in choices not their own but sold as such and masked in mud.

Within this bedlam of narrative hatching and cross-hatching, of allies disguised as enemies, enemies disguised as allies, subterfuge posing as self-sabotage, terrible lies and more terrible truths, verily anything could be camouflaged. Even the assisted death of democracy. Staged, of course, as self-inflicted.

Lisa Van Dusen is associate editor of Policy Magazine and a columnist for The Hill Times. She was Washington bureau chief for Sun Media, international writer for Peter Jennings at ABC News, and an editor at AP in New York and UPI in Washington.