That's the title of an article by Victor Davis Hanson. It's powerful stuff, and well worth reading in full. Here's an excerpt.
We are all worried, on occasion, by nationalist and anti-democratic movements abroad in former democratic countries. We all sometimes wish Donald Trump would ignore personal spats and curb his tweeting and thus let his considerable accomplishments speak for themselves.
But that said, the current and chief threats to Western constitutional government are not originating from loud right-wing populists in Eastern Europe, or from Trump wailing like Ajax about the rigged deep state.
Rather, the threat to our civil liberties is coming from supposedly sanctimonious and allegedly judicious career FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence agency officials, progressive and self-described idealistic former members of the Obama national security team, and anti-Trump fervent campaign operatives, all of whom felt that they could break the law—including but not limited to illegally monitoring American citizens, and seeking to warp federal courts and even the presidential election because such unsavory and anti-constitutional means were felt necessary and justified to prevent and then subvert the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
It is willful blindness for progressives and NeverTrump Republicans to overlook what has happened only to damn what has not happened. The dangers in America are not from transparent right-wing authoritarians (who are easily spotted in their clumsiness), but from mellifluous self-styled constitutionalists, whose facades and professions of legality mask their rank efforts to use any anti-constitutional means necessary to achieve their supposedly noble egalitarian ends.
This is the way democracies end—not with a loud boisterous bang, but with insidious and self-righteous whimpers.
There's more at the link.
I found Prof. Hanson's words even more powerful when read in conjunction with another article, this one titled "H.A.L.P.E.R. Spells Game Up for Obama's Spies". The author quotes former FBI agent Mark Wauck as follows:
The FBI is asked--way back as early as 2015, but who knows? -- to be helpful to the Dems and they agree. What they do is they hire non-government consultants with close Dem ties to do "analytical work" for them, which happens to include total access to NSA data. Advantages? For the Dems, obviously, access to EVERYTHING digital. A gold mine for modern campaign research. For the FBI there's also an advantage. They get to play dumb -- gosh, we didn't know they were looking at all that stuff! They also don't have to falsify anything, like making [stuff] up to "justify" opening a FI [full investigation] on an American citizen and then lying to the FISC to get a FISA on the USPER [US person] and having to continually renew the FISA and lie all over again to the FISC each renewal. And the beauty of it all is, who's ever going to find out? And even if they do, how do you prove criminal intent?
So everything's humming along until a pain in the a** named Mike Rogers at NSA does an audit in 4/2016, just as the real campaign season is about to start. And Rogers learns that 85% of the searches the FBI has done between 12/2015 and 4/2016 have been totally out of bounds. And he clamps down -- no more non-government contractors, tight auditing on searches of NSA data. Oh sh*t! What to do, just give up? Well, not necessarily, but there's a lot more work involved and a lot more fudging the facts. What the FBI needs to do now is get a FISA that will cover their a** and provide coverage on the GOPers going forward. That means, first get a FI on an USPER [US person] connected to the Trump campaign (who looks, in [April] or [May] 2016, like the GOP candidate) so you can then get that FISA. That's not so easy, because they've got to find an USPER with that profile who they can plausibly present as a Russian spy. But they have this source named Halper.
So they first open a PI [preliminary investigation]. That allows them to legally use NatSec Letters and other investigative techniques to keep at least some of what they were doing going. But importantly this allows them to legally use Halper to try to frame people connected to the Trump campaign -- IOW, find someone to open a FI on so they can then get that FISA. However the PI is framed, that's what they're looking to do. It has legal form, even if the real intent is to help the Dems. And you can see why this had to be a CI [counterintelligence] thing, so in a sense the Russia narrative was almost inevitable -- no other bogeyman would really fit the bill, and especially on short notice.
So that's what they do, and Halper helps them come up with Papadopoulos and Page, so by the end of July they've got their FI. Problem. Their first FISA is rejected, but eventually, 10/2016, they get that.
And then Trump wins and Rogers visits Trump Tower. And the Deep State has a fit.
Again, more at the link.
I believe both of the articles cited above are really important reading for anyone wanting to understand the way in which the Obama administration "weaponized" the primary security agencies of the US government for partisan political purposes. Unless this is stopped, decisively, and dealt with once and for all, it will become routine for every administration to do the same. If that happens, our constitutional republic will be as dead as the proverbial dodo.