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Jimmy Carter

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks to the congregation at Maranatha Baptist Church before teaching Sunday school in his hometown of Plains, Georgia on April 28, 2019. (Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Eve of Jan. 6 Anniversary, Jimmy Carter Warns US Democracy 'Teeters on the Brink'

"Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy," the former president writes. "Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late."

Brett Wilkins

As the nation prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the right-wing insurrectionist mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, former President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday warned that American democracy "teeters on the brink" of destruction and that there is a real possibility of a second civil war if the country does not rally to defend its democratic principles and institutions.

"One year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems."

"One year ago, a violent mob, guided by unscrupulous politicians, stormed the Capitol and almost succeeded in preventing the democratic transfer of power," Carter, who is 97 years old, wrote in a New York Times guest essay ahead of the anniversary of the attempted coup by supporters of former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that Democrats stole the 2020 election for President Joe Biden.

"One year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems," the 39th president continued. "These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans."

Carter—who, after leaving the White House in 1981 founded the Carter Center, which works to promote free and fair elections around the world—asserted that Americans must agree on fundamental constitutional principles, pursue reforms to ensure electoral security and accessibility, resist polarization, reject political violence, and combat the spread of disinformation.

"Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss," he warned. "Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late."

Observers not prone to hyperbole have been sounding the alarm about the growing threat to U.S. democracy.

In a Guardian opinion piece published Monday, prominent jurist Laurence Tribe warned that "the risk of a coup in the next U.S. election is greater now than it ever was under Trump," while violent conflict scholar Thomas Homer-Dixon on Tuesday called Trump's presidency "just a warm-up act" presaging a fascist dictatorship that could rule the United States by the end of the decade.


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