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COMMENTARY: Autocracy, Democracy, And Brittney Griner

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

The thought of Brittney Griner, the WNBA star turned political hostage, should make every freedom-loving American weep.

It’s going to be a long wait before it’s all over.

The televised images of Griner behind bars were nothing like the glory images of Griner on the basketball court. There was no joy from her cell in a Russian court, where justice is a sham, and a guilty verdict was handed down for less than a gram of cannabis in a vape pen.

But then came the capper, a prison camp sentence of 9 1/2 years. It was almost too much to bear.

Although Griner has said she doesn’t want to talk about politics or being a pawn, that is exactly what she is. It’s a different game where the U.S. and Russia now discuss prisoner swaps the same way NBA teams try to figure out trades. But is Griner equal to an international arms dealer? An angel for a devil doesn’t make sense, which only means any agreement will take time. And Russia has nothing but time.

So, we should take this unique moment as a civics lesson to appreciate the system we have in our own country, as flawed and as imperfect as it is.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan last week, she emphatically defended her visit, saying U.S. stands by democracies like Taiwan which is standing up to its bully, China. Said Pelosi, “We take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

Democracy you know.

Autocracy? That isn’t being forced to drive a plug-in electric car.

No, autocracy in the starkest of terms is dictatorship. It’s total control. It’s what Putin has. Americans instinctively know the difference between autocracy and democracy.

It’s also a choice we face every day here in the U.S. and especially during any election in these unique times.

While Pelosi stood up for democracy in Taiwan, it’s been a mixed bag in America where Democracy triumphed recently in Kansas when a majority voted to keep abortion a constitutional right in that state.

But democracy remained befuddling in Arizona and Michigan in particular when voters chose candidates who believe in the “Big Lie,” that former President Donald Trump won in 2020.

Given revelations during the Jan. 6 Select Committee hearings, election deniers are a troubling aspect in our American democracy. The truth is well known. But loyalty to the lie transforms into a modern definition of autocrat. In their world, autocrats always win because they dictate the truth. They never lose an election even when they do.

Many Americans choose to believe the lie being pushed by Trump, who has publicly envied the idea of China’s Xi as “president for life.”

It also explains Trump’s reaction this week when the FBI raided his Florida home. The agents had probable cause and a judge’s signature. Only a failed president with autocratic dreams would question the legality of the raid.

And yet, the GOP remains in the grips of Trump.

But hope comes out of Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

More than 20 Republicans came out in support of the speaker, including Sen. Mitch McConnell. And all despite the military “tests” and general saber-rattling from China. In standing up to China, there were some rational Republicans who had to publicly acknowledge we really are on the same team, in support of our enduring democracy. And all democracies. Everywhere.

It was a rare moment of partial American unity!

That’s why Pelosi’s trip will be one of her legacy moments, one that shows us the stark difference between Autocracy vs. Democracy. It’s the choice before us.

In an autocracy, Griner stays behind bars. In a democracy, she goes free. It’s a lesson worth contemplating as we wait for the swap politics in Russia to play out.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Twitter @emilamok. See him on http://www.amok.com

The post COMMENTARY: Autocracy, Democracy, And Brittney Griner first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.

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