From the Left



Athens and America: Helpful Hints for the Fix We're In

Jamie Stiehm on

ATHENS, GREECE -- Greetings from the land where democracy began 2,500 years ago.

I came seeking shelter under the Aegean sun from American democracy running ragged.

Our own government is the oldest extant democracy in the world. But America is reeling from the revelations of the House select committee hearings on the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol. I witnessed the siege from inside the walls and covered two somber committee hearings.

So far, it's clear our worst fears about former President Donald Trump's ruthless scheme to steal his lost election are true, and then some.

So, I have some helpful hints from here to send home.

The most important takeaway from Athens is how precious, rare and fragile democracy is. Its backstory is a timely cautionary tale. My urgent message on the winds Odysseus sailed is simple: We must cherish what Americans take for granted.


Trump's violent conspiracy to hold onto power was indeed like a Greek drama. The Proud Boys were the tragic chorus, along with calls to hang Vice President Mike Pence -- the hero who saved the day. Believe me, the mob would have done it. They had a list of who they wanted.

We who witnessed the un-American, murderous sound and fury knew who sent the mob of 30,000 that winter afternoon. And we knew without committee hearings. Only one man had the hubris and the power to dare to do that.

The majesty of the gleaming Parthenon towering over the city is so much more than an art history book can say. We walked up high to behold the place where the greatest philosophers met in dialogue, leaders gave orations and where Greeks worshiped their gods.

Even more crucial, this is where democracy was first practiced. The radical idea was that each citizen of Athens was the equal of any other. Fancy that.


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