Episode: The Authoritarian's Playbook: Bonus Episode - Guardrails of Democracy

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The Authoritarian's Playbook: Bonus Episode - Guardrails of Democracy

As a thick morning fog was still lifting over the hills here above the San Francisco Bay, Ellsberg sat at his dining room table, sipping a cup of coffee and reading The New York Times. It was Friday, December 13th, the House Judiciary Committee had just sent the articles of impeachment for a full house floor vote.  It feels like deja vu, 50 years on. Dan Ellsberg was reflecting on then and now.

To some, the whistleblower is a hero, to others, a traitor. But at their core, at least, whistleblowers are vested with secrets--it’s just part of their job. If the whistleblower protections are functioning, they are anonymous. These individuals have the highest security clearances, they’ve built careers around protecting their country from external threats. 

But it is the internal threat that challenges civil servants to defend the fundamental tenets of the constitution, to risk everything they’ve worked for, and to blow the whistle on corruption, abuse of power, and criminal activity, carried out by their fellow citizens, even colleagues.

For this epilogue to the Democracy Undone series, we reflect on the role of the whistleblower. Their proximity to the veiled, inner workings of government puts them in the unique position to monitor the integrity of our elected officials.  


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