By Jason Taylor
Seeing the threat that Trump is to democracy is a rational conclusion to rational analytical thought. That does not mean you cannot reach the same conclusion based on irrational thought or through some version of magical thinking. To say that the successful blocking or delay in implementation of some of his and Bannon’s moronic schemes does not mean they have not had an impact. The Muslim ban for example; the language used to address the ban and the actions taken in the course of its attempted implementation have caused permanent long term damage to our society, they have normalized speech and actions that should never have arisen in an intelligent sophisticated society.
And what of the recent reported survey findings that more than half of self-identified Republicans would support suspension of the 2020 presidential election until the country could fix the mythical voter fraud problem, of which 68% of Republicans believe that millions of illegal votes were cast recently and 73% believed that voter fraud happens often — this in the face of all state election officials, including Red states, and researchers saying that there is an insignificant problem?
When half of one of the two major parties believes that it would be OK to suspend a presidential election on the basis of false beliefs for which there is good evidence countering said belief, then I think we have a large portion of the electorate who have authoritarian tendencies. Read the psychological profiles of people with these tendencies. They show that such people want simple answers from strong confident leaders who claim that they have simple solutions to complex problems and who denigrate “others” as people to be feared and suppressed.
These are anti-Democratic beliefs, so yes, they are a threat to democracy. They always have been in all countries. There is a thin veil that we struggle with constantly to maintain and preserve what is good about the US. The threat is always there from segments in our own and other countries’ populations. To try and convince us otherwise is dangerous in itself and flies in the face of historical precedent and what we see daily now with our own eyes.
Just think of the child that watched the performance of Nazi admirer Stephen Miller and his claim that the policy edicts of President shall not be questioned, children that are of the ilk from whence Miller came, weak unathletic, pseudo intellectuals daily victim of bullying. In Miller, they see a hero, a modern day Himmler, a chance for them to push back someday. No don’t try to tell me the danger of Trump’s stupidity is hysteria, it is real, very real.
Trump was elected because many white American’s feels economically squeezed. But it’s also important that Trump won them over by blaming “terrible trade deals” struck by “stupid liberals” and non-white immigrants stealing American jobs.
That’s why reducing inequality won’t do the trick. The real issue is cultural. For decades, white Americans have thought of themselves as good, hard-working people with a wonderful Protestant work ethic. In their mind, African-Americans and Latinos were poor because they didn’t share in this “superior culture” but embraced a “self-defeating culture” instead. When this ideology collided with harsh economic realities, Trump voters needed someone to blame, and Trump happily dished out blame and spoke to a sense of white victimhood.
Of course, none of this could have happened if Americans were better off, but Trump has seized the privilege of interpretation over Middle America’s economic woes, and he is instrumentalizing his nationalist and racist narrative to transform America not only into a more conservative but also more populist place that might transform into a Hungary- or Turkey-style illiberal democracy.
Tyranny can be defined as any deliberate action a government and accomplices implement to take away well being, a standard of living, education, wealth, health, limiting constitutional privileges and protections of millions of its citizens. By that metric, this government is well on the way. It doesn’t help when that same government has labeled citizens who supported the opposition in the last election as unpatriotic at best, treasonous at worst. Clearly, “We the People” is anathema to this government.
Trump unquestionably has tyrannical tendencies and the only thing preventing it is a fairly robust democratic system, media, and leaks from concerned insiders. He would be a tyrant if permitted to be. The shocking thing about it is how strongly Trump challenges the system, and even if it holds against him, it makes us very aware of the problem.
The president’s recent attacks on Senator Mitch McConnell seem not to have offended the Kentucky Republican. McConnell explains that the president simply doesn’t understand the inner workings of politics and that he doesn’t understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Like Nero, this president’s fiddling with the nuclear codes is alarming beyond words. Yes, the threat of tyranny is certainly real but so is the possibility of a nuclear mushroom cloud that the president seems not to take seriously.