During the onslaught of the past three (!) weeks, I’ve retained one small hope: that American institutions and government can withstand Trump. Though the constitution was written to exclusively benefit white male landholders, the structure of American government, of three equal branches, is one of the strongest in the world. It is far from perfect. But the rights afforded to citizens, whether by principle or amendment, affect the way Americans defend their liberties and demand accountability.

This still matters, despite the reality that America is an imperial power that tramples on states and peoples to advance its interests. Those who challenge their governments in other countries face detention, torture and execution. These governments pervert rights into a script of oppression and power. By contrast, the women’s march was one of the largest in history and entirely peaceful.

It’s why this statement marks the end of democracy in America (emphasis mine):

“We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” said Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump on immigration issues, appearing on the CBS program Face the Nation.

“Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

This is open contempt for the courts, the rule of law and the basic tenets of government. This is fascism. This is the end of American democracy.

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Shilpa Jindia is an independent researcher and consultant based in Washington, D.C. She previously served as the co-editor of openSecurity at openDemocracy.