Letter to the Editor: Democracy, Please – Not Violence

President Biden’s address on Sept. 1 was spot on. MAGA [Make America Great Again] Republicans frequently advocate and/or condone violence instead of democratic processes, as seen during the Jan. 6 insurrection, in record numbers of death threats against government officials with whom they disagree, and through support for enforcing pregnancies caused by violence. 

In my recent reading of the Dark Ages in English history, I have been astonished to find parallels to the ideas that MAGA Republicans voice. Does MAGA actually want to re-create the violence of that period?

During the years from 400 to 1066, the British Isles were consumed with violence. Some of it came from Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Vikings (Norwegians) and Normans, but invaders were successful largely because the land was carved into regions and the strongmen (warriors) who were in charge were constantly at war with each other for more land, prestige, power. They used their freedom from government to pursue gang warfare. No one was safe. 

In medieval times, violence continued to dominate British society, with a few notable exceptions. William the Conqueror pulled separate regions into one country (England) and created a system of sheriffs to maintain some order. Most kings announced a new set of laws at their coronations. King John settled a rebellion with the Magna Carta, an agreement to share his power with a parliament. 

For the British colony founded here, however, such agreements were not enough. Not until our Constitution was ratified did the world have a constitutional democracy that promised to settle disputes with the rule of law: to elect representatives to make laws, install judges to interpret them, support an executive branch to oversee and implement them, and elect state governments to work out necessary regional variations in relation to federal laws. Government would happen by checks and balances within a system, not by any one person. 

Nine centuries of hard work could go down the drain if MAGA’s calls for violence prevail. What would then replace democracy? Who wants to return to the rule of violence, in which “might makes right”? Who wants to return to the Dark Ages?

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek, Wisconsin