We’re pointing a gun at our democracy

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by Donna Brazile

(CNN) — Our democracy is endangered. Not by the Russians, North Korea, the Iran regime, or even terrorists. To quote Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Inside the beltway, the fingers point and the media tuts and struts in glee, and we, the American public, respond by becoming more rigid and divided ourselves. No more “truth springing from argument amongst friends,” as David Hume said. A recent nonpartisan Pew Research Poll finds our knee-jerk partisanship has increased dramatically.

This road we’re on will lead us step-by-step to an extreme: either an autocratic government that functions, or a dysfunctional anarchy. The petty squabbles, bilge in the name of party or principle, will dissolve our self-government.

Abraham Lincoln felt no foreign power could ever defeat the United States. He said, “From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never…No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”

We’re pointing a pistol at our heads. A government of, by, and for the people requires that people talk to people, that we can agree to disagree but do so in civility. If we let the politicians and those who report dictate our discourse, then our course will be dictated.

Why am I alarmed? Because two “scandals” — the IRS tax-exempt inquiries and the Department of Justice’s tapping of reporters’ phones — have become lynch parties. And the congressional investigation of Benghazi may become a scandal in itself.

The IRS scandal has sparked bipartisan outrage that should require a bipartisan solution. The director who oversaw this was a Bush appointee who was confirmed by a Democratic Congress. Even Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says he doubts very much that Obama was involved

We, the people, need to stay focused on facts, causes and solutions. Let’s begin with the findings of the Treasury’s inspector general who uncovered it: That it was bureaucratic mismanagement, but that there was no evidence of any political motivation or influence from outside the IRS.

And that, according to acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who just resigned, the problem started because the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision created a surge of requests by political groups for tax-exempt status.

Democrats and Republicans agree there’s a problem. Maybe they should focus on solutions.

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