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Matt Osborne @OsborneInk
, 21 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
A thread about the history of safety systems and how they fail. Also, how it applies to American democracy. 20 tweets
During WW1, battleships started spontaneously exploding. The humans inside them overcame expensive, highly-developed safety systems and procedures to accomplish this feat
The problem wasn't confined to one navy. It arose from commanders valuing rapid gunnery more than safety: ammo propellant bags were being stored in hallways to impress the admirals
This may remind you of a recent US Navy accident or two in which fewer ships, higher operational tempo, and overworked sailors overcame billion-$ safety & navigation systems to collide at sea…
Also during WW1, there was a surge of train accidents. National railroad systems struggled to keep up with the demands of war. Unsafe, obsolete cars were pressed into service. Add a little bit of negligence, and you had fiery disasters
The best safety systems in the world can be overcome by human priorities. War and conflict put enormous stress on those same safety systems. Put these things together and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now think of the Constitution as a safety system.
But first, about that autopilot. If you read the WIRED article, you'll note this paragraph in which it appears that the deceased Tesla driver was, well, kind of a bad driver. He was letting the car drive for him; he was evidently distracted; he ignored warnings
"Critics say the ease with which Tesla’s system handles regular freeway driving can lull a driver into thinking it’s more capable than it is," @stewart_jack writes, "and allow them to become distracted or take their eyes off the road"…
Musk's billion-$ autopilot system is working exactly as it was designed to work -- for good drivers. It does reduce the average rate of accidents.

But if you are a bad driver, a Tesla might actually make you worse by teaching you to push against safety limitations
Now it's time to think of the US Constitution as a safety system designed to balance democracy with the needs of a republic in order to prevent tyranny.

Take the 2nd Amendment. It looks nothing like our deregulated militia supposedly defending the security of our free state
Or take the 1st Amendment. In its name, an entire alternate reality parallel universe of right wing news and opinion has come into existence, polarizing democracy and purposefully undermining civil society, all through the magic of conspiracy narratives.
In 2016, it didn't help that America had been at war for 15 years. That Constitutional norms went by the wayside. That for 8 years, the RW alternate reality had generalized and mainstreamed the goofiest Obama conspiracy theories
Free trade and immigration got blamed for what Wall Street and automation did to the American job in the last 30 years or so. That made space for a demagogue like Trump to circumvent the free press and other Constitutional safety systems…
Trump's time in office has been characterized by shattered norms and a full-on collision with our already-stressed Constitutional safety systems: the Emoluments Clause. Congressional committees. OGE. Courts. Civil society. Etc, etc, etc
Like a bad driver who learns to ignore his Tesla Autopilot's warnings and becomes an even worse driver, one of the two American political tribes has crashed democracy.

Trump is actively ripping out safety systems to take total charge of the nation and drive over a cliff
This is our crisis. This perilous moment in American history is all about the impact of a man intent on absolute power against a Constitution designed to keep him out, limit him, and eject him.

Look how far he has gotten. Look how far he wants to go…
For example, the "new," "unshackled" Trump will have John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to cook up a nice case for war with Iran.

"But that would require congressional authorization," I hear you cry.

Just wait. There will be an "emergency" even if they have to create one.
Trump can decertify the nuclear deal. He doesn't need proof of a violation to justify that.

Then Iran can resume enriching uranium, which will justify a strike, which will precipitate a regional war without any input from Congress.

See how easy that was?
I do not pretend to have all the answers here, but it is clear that America cannot afford too many distracted drivers in 2018. And even if everything goes right, we have to stay focused on restoring and updating our Constitutional safety system to avoid future crashes.
And even if everything goes right through 2020, America has got to find its way out of all these wars that derange our values, polarize our politics, and empower would-be dictators like Trump.

We must do this ourselves. There is no autopilot
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