Category Archives: Death of Democracy

Americans voted for a Slow Moving Coup

 

Bill Maher was the first person I heard say that Trump would not leave the Presidency if he was voted out of office. Others later echoed those fears. For good reason. Trump provided ample evidence that he might do that. As I write, about 3 weeks after the election of 2020, it appears, though it is not certain, that the American democracy has held and the erosive powers have lost. Yet that is still not clear. President Trump and his minions including a vast array of lawyers, each one appearing more comical than the last, has lost about 34 consecutive court cases challenging the election without a victory. Though I heard someone say he won 2 minor victories. So as far as I know the status is not clear. Not yet. I must admit that I have started to stop paying attention already so there may have been changes.

 

Many are calling Trump’s actions an “attempted coup”. Perhaps his most egregious post election action (so far) was the blatant attempt to persuade Republican politicians from Michigan to overturn the substantial Biden majority of votes he obtained on flimsy grounds of voter fraud. So far it looks like the coup will fail. But if it does fail, it has come close. Frighteningly close actually.

And what really bothers me as I keep repeating is that about 77 million of Americans voted for him after it was clear to one and all that this is what he is like. They knew him and liked him enough to vote for him.

Here is what Bill Maher said, way back in 2017 (his list would be a lot longer if it was made in 2020) :

“This is a slow moving coup. Here is a list of things that Donald Trump does that sounds like a 3rd world dictator: You put your name on buildings; you appoint your family members to positions of power; your rallies are scary; you hate the press, and threaten to lock some of them up; you want military parades, you use the office for financial gain; you love other dictators; you lie so freely people can’t tell the difference any more between lies and truth; you crave the constant ridiculous over-the-top flattery that political leaders need. For example, Kim Jong-un of North Korea. They say that he learned to drive at the age of 3, he trained his body so that he never needs to urinate or defecate, he invented the hamburger, when he was born a new star was created and winter turned to spring, the first time he golfed he had 11 holes in one. This is us now. This is America. This is what’s so scary. I see where he is going. When his sycophants lavish praise on him to his face in absurd amounts he stands there soaking it all in as if it is natural and totally de. He served. He nods his head. It’s creepy.”

 

Yes it is creepy. Stephen Colbert used the word fascism to describe this. What is really creepy is Americans voted for this in huge numbers. That tells us a lot about America.  That is creepy too.

Not happy with American Election

 

People asked me if I was happy about the elections results of 2020, The answer is obvious—of course I was. But am I satisfied? Not by a long shot!

In the 2020 presidential election of 2020 approximately 74 million Americans voted for Donald Trump after seeing him on television and reading about him every single day. No person in the history of the world has become more famous or well known. Trump can bask in that thought. That is what narcissists  and demagogues do.

No American can say they were deceived about who Trump was. Trump cannot hold back because he always thinks he can sell us on his narrative. That is what he did his whole life as a real estate developer. Every American knew exactly who they were voting for. And who did they vote for? This is not a pretty picture.

 

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew had lied to them about the severity of Covid-19 pandemic because he did not want to alarm them. So he lied instead, thus lulling them into a false sense of security so they failed to take precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the communities in which they lived.

 

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew was a white nationalist who refused to renounce white supremacy and instead asked the Proud boys to ‘Stand back and stand by” a call that they accepted as an endorsement.

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew voted for president who mocked handicapped people.

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they who they knew thought that because he was a star he could freely grope any woman he met.

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew  tried to pressure a foreign country (the Ukraine) to do him a personal favor of investing one of his political opponents by witholding funds that had been approved by Congress and which the Ukraine needed to protect itself from Russia.

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew claimed that as president he could do whatever he wanted fo nothing he did was illegal.

Approximately 74 million Americans voted for a president they knew abandoned long time American allies (the Kurds) who were under attack by the Turks, thus forcing them to turn to Russia for protection, proving that “these colors run” contrary to American propaganda.

What does this say about America?   That is the real question.

 

Thank goodness for the Courts

I don’t always say this, but thank goodness for the courts. They are not perfect. Far from it in fact. They don’t always find the truth. Especially when they become slaves to precedents. They make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. But at least they tend to follow the evidence. Not weak speculation or windy lawyers. Lawyers must present evidence and rational argument. Not speculation or disinformation. The public might, but courts won’t buy that.

This is exactly what the United States needs now in this time of deep peril brought on by a shameful aspiring autocrat who can’t bear the thought of losing and is willing to defile the most sacred of their institutions.

As we all know by now, the Trump administration is trying to hold on to power with remarkable tenacity and a phalanx of lawyers. Maybe you want to contribute to their cause. They are accepting donations.

Since months before the election Trump was readying his supporters in case he lost the election, by claiming entirely without evidence that the election would be the most corrupt and fraudulent in history. As soon as the counting was nearing completion the Trump campaign sent those lawyers out to challenge the votes in states where they claimed the Democrats had “stolen the election.”

One interesting case occurred in Pennsylvania a state that is critically important to the Trump campaign. They alleged massive voter fraud. At least that is what they said in public. The Trump campaign has already been caught saying that in public, but then making much milder claims in court. The problem with milder claims is that they won’t be enough to overturn the election even if they are proven in court.

This was at the time the 29th lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign that was recently dismissed or withdrawn. Since then 5 more have been dismissed and none has succeeded as far as I can tell. The only good thing about those lawsuits is that a lot of lawyers got gainful employment.

That  particular lawsuit tried to invalidate millions of Pennsylvania mail-in votes. The federal court judge, U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann, a registered Republican, threw the case out of court because the argument of the Trump campaign just did not hold up water. This was the case in which 2 prior law firms withdrew from the case causing former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani to take over at the last minute. He tried to argue that Pennsylvania should be prevented from certifying the election because some municipalities allowed some mail-in ballots to be cured because they had technical errors or glitches which they argued meant all the ballots in Pennsylvania should be thrown out.

The judge made very clear what he thought of the legal argument of the Trump team of lawyers:

 

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome plaintiff’s lawyers would come to court formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption. That has not happened. Instead this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”

 

The Washington Post described the judge’s opinion this way:

“Trump’s attorneys had haphazardly stitched this allegation together ‘like Frankenstein’s Monster’ in an attempt to avoid unfavorable legal precedent.”

The arguments were not nearly enough for the judge to disenfranchise nearly 7 million voters in the State of Pennsylvania. 34 Trump campaign lawsuits have now been dismissed in various U.S. courts.

It has been very difficult for people to get at the truth amid the blizzard of claims of corruption and fraud by the Trump campaign and it is nice to see a court not swayed by empty rhetoric.

There is still hope for American democracy when the courts seek the truth. It’s enough to make an old recovering lawyer proud. Sometimes the law is an ass as Charles Dickens said, but sometimes it does good.

 

Election Sabotage Campaign

 

During the recent US election campaign, Trump’s attack on democracy continued unabated. During the campaign  he targeted the US postal service. In view of the fact that the pandemic was making mail-in voting much more attractive than it has ever been before, Trump’s minions were intent on emasculating the post office. Trump actually admitted, the more people that vote the worse it is for Republicans. This is one thing he says I agree with. It is interesting how open Trump is about what otherwise might be called a conspiracy. Just like he admitted to reporter Bob Woodward that he was not telling the truth to the American public about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

As David Smith has reported in the Guardian, (what I consider to be an independent and reliable source of news)

“Trump recently admitted that he was blocking money sought by Democrats for the postal service so he could stop people voting by mail.”

Yet, Trump reduced the postal service when the postal service was more urgently needed than ever before. The reason was obvious. He wanted to help Republicans. He was not worried about voter fraud. He is quite comfortable with fraud.

Trump repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting is inevitably fraudulent. While he is an expert on fraud, he ignored all the evidence and offered none in return except for a few anecdotes. As Smith reported,

“His allergic reaction to mail-in voting is based on the false premise that it is riddled with fraud, an assertion debunked by numerous fact checkers and academic studies. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah – already carry out elections almost entirely by mail.”

Trump’s reaction was also likely based on the fact that most mail-in-ballots would come from Democrats since they were taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and had less confidence than Republicans that they would be safe at the polls unlike the Republicans. As Smith pointed out before the election,

“Democrats claim that the president’s true motive is to disenfranchise millions of their voters; surveys show significantly more Republicans than Democrats say they would feel safe showing up to vote in person.”

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist based in Columbia, South Carolina, was even more blunt, “This is an attempt to do election interference 2.0. This time it’s done by this administration and not a foreign adversary. Not only is Trump trying to undermine the integrity of the election, he’s trying to strike fear and chaos into our election.” All of his actions after the election reinforce this view.

After Democrats cried foul amid general support for their complaints, the postmaster general Louis DeJoy, said he would cancel the proposed cuts until after the election. That was clearly the right thing to do. But the earlier actions have undermined confidence in the election process.

According to Seawright this “election sabotage campaign” and  has demonstrated that Republicans belong to “the party of voter suppression.” The Democrats of course for many years properly earned that label too for their decades long policy of voter suppression of African Americans in the south after the Civil War. Those policies were always supported by the Republicans however. Both parties gave strong support for the suppression of African-American voting rights.

Seawright knew from experience what Trump’s position is intended to do. As he said,

“I’m black and so all of my life, including my sharecropper grandparents’ lives, they have been trying to do everything they can to limit our participation in the election process. This just elevates my concern going into this election. The playbook is pretty much the same.

It’s just different players implementing the strategy, and the strategy has been recalibrated this time as vote by mail. Keep in mind we’re still in the middle of a pandemic where showing up to vote in person could mean life or death for some people. But black people have put their lives on the line to vote before and, if we keep going down this road, I think we are willing and able to do it again because this election is just that important.”

 

In August of 2020 the American Senate issued a bipartisan report that revealed the massive extent to which the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians during the 2016 election.  They did not call it collusion. It said that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager worked closely with a “Russian intelligence officer,” Konstantin Kilimnik. The Senate report also warned that Russians were already working on interfering again in the recent 2020 election to get their man Trump re-elected. While that is disturbing, even though few Republican leaders acknowledge it, presumably because they are willing to take any support they can get from any and all sources, no matter how besmirched, there is an even more egregious disrupter of the election.

As Smith commented in the Guardian,

“But such threats currently appear less fundamental than that posed by a president gone rogue – a man who this week welcomed the support of believers in a baseless righting conspiracy theory that holds the world is run by a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.”

Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and broadcaster, asked: “Who needs Vladimir Putin when we have Donald Trump? If you were Vladimir Putin and you wanted to disrupt this election, what would you do? You’d spread disinformation. You’d make people doubt the legitimacy of the vote. You’d peddle conspiracy theories and you might want to mess with mail-in voting. That’s all happening without him. Our president is doing that.”

More and more are joining in these fears. As Smith reported,

Before the election, Sykes, founder and editor-at-large of the Bulwark website, warned of a “very ugly” post-election period.

“It’s very clear that Trump will use every lever of governmental power to stay in office. There’ll be many mail-in votes and the mail-in votes will be very different than the same-day votes.What he will do – and it will be very much on brand for Donald Trump – is declare victory on election night and then, as the mail-in votes are counted, he will insist that that they are not legitimate, that the election is being stolen from him, and I think that has the potential to create massive doubt and chaos.”

 

Trump has today again made it clear that he still disputes the election even though he is now consenting to his administration cooperating with the incoming Biden administration to allow transition. But this issue is not over, particularly when over 70% of Republicans believe the Democrats stole the election.

There is no doubt we live in interesting times—perhaps much too interesting.

Truth may be dead but faith is alive and well.

 

In 2020 Trump switched the emphasis in his campaign from telling Americans that they should feat the Mexican rapists at the border to a message of black anarchists and Antifa left wing radicals in American cities. In each the real message was “America needs a strong man and I Donald Trump can save you.” This is a strategy of authoritarian leaders forever. It is the default strategy. As amazing as it sounds that is an attractive message to millions of people. More than  70 million American voters bought it.

This was the message of white nationalism or white supremacy in 2020. It may not have won the presidential election for Trump but it is still a powerful message.

 

It does not matter in the world of resentment and lies. These go together like love and marriage. Or as my good friend says, like pee and porcelain. All of his was enabled by a prolonged attack on truth and it allowed Trump to spew out outrageous lies on election night with complete impunity.

 

I listened to two very engaging thinkers on Amanpour and Co recently. One of them was Jason Stanley the author of How Fascism Works: the Politics of US vs. Them.

Stanley pointed out for weeks before the election Trump was tweeting about voter fraud and things like that to discredit the election before it even happened, so that if he lost Americans would believe the election was “corrupt” or a “fraud” or a “hoax.” Then sure enough Trump pulled out this card on the evening of the election (well really the morning after). Trump did not take the high road that Al Gore did after the final Supreme Court decision when he lost to George Bush. For the good of the country Gore said he would let it be and support President elect Bush. Trump never takes the high road. It is not in his nature.

Trump asserted, as always without any evidence, “I have won the election. I got more legal votes than Joe Biden.” Stanley pointed out,

“This is typical authoritarian behavior. Trump had been warning the world for a couple of months before the election that it would be “rigged” or “corrupt” or “fraudulent” so no one should be surprised. Secondly it shows remarkable long term planning. Months ago the president announced an attack on the post office. He claimed there was “voter fraud” when there wasn’t. The Covid denialism he spread made his voters more likely to appear on the same day as the election to cast their vote. So we always knew he would have a lead among same day in-person voters. So this has been the strategy all along, to declare victory that night before the votes were all in so he could later announce the others were fraudulent. It was a clear strategy to undermine the election process. This is exactly what he did repeatedly leading up to the November 4th election day.”

 

Clearly some voters bought this narrative. Many of us saw this rabid Trump supporter the day after the election in Nevada try to interrupt an TV interviewer talking to a poll worker who was explaining how thorough they were in counting all the legal votes and discarding the illegal ones. The Trump fan kept shrieking to the cameraman, “Joe Biden and evil crime family are trying to steal the election.” The fan was livid, but like his hero, offered no evidence only shrieks. But the interesting thing is that the leader of “his side” saw it before it happened. A month before the election he “knew” it would be fraudulent. So of course the fan believed it. As did many other Trump fans.

Since the election the streets of American cities have seen a number of “rallies” by Trump supporters demonstrating their undying faith in Trump. Like any good faith, it is strong in the absence of evidence. That is what faith is all about.

Truth may be dead but faith is alive and well.

But can they live long without each other?

Tin-pot Dictator

 

We all know that Donald Trump has consistently acted like a ‘wanna be’ tin-pot dictator and no one was surprised. He frequently made it clear that he admires authoritarians such Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, and Kim Jong-un of North Korea, among others. Trump likes dictators. Democratic leaders not so much. He has tried to twist the arms of Ukrainian political leaders to dig up dirt on his political rival (at the time) Joe Biden. He has used the Department of Justice as his personal law firm against all protocols, and has done much else to make it clear to most that he is an authoritarian at heart.

 

More recently Trump has painted himself as a “law and order president” read to urge on the police to smash all resistance and get tough will all protesters that he characterized as supporters of “toe-tally-terry-tism” as he called them while encouraging authorities to treat them harshly. Trump called rebels opposed to him “domestic terrorists” while asking his racist thug supporters to “stand back and stand by.”

Trump frequently characterized the members of the press that are a bulwark against tyranny as “enemies of the state.” As Allan Levine a University of Winnipeg Political Scientist said,

“Moreover, like a classic dictator, he and his attorney general William Barr, who sees almost no limits on executive power, have manipulated the justice department to do Trump’s bidding. On the pretext of defending federal property, Trump, in a transparent ploy to boost his faltering re-election campaign, has dispatched — without being asked to do so by state or city officials — heavily armed federal Department of Homeland Security agents to Portland, Ore.”

 

At the same time Trump dismisses any media criticism of him as “fake news” thus doing everything he can to convince his supporters that the press, a vital cornerstone of democracy, is actually their enemy. At the same time, he has invented stories about a “radical left mob” that are bent on scaring people off the streets of America while also being engaged, as Levine said, in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.”

Perhaps the clearest evidence of his authoritarian wishes was his promulgation of bizarre and obviously false conspiracy theories to back his war on truth. The death of truth is the foundation of authoritarianism and on which Trump has built a massive edifice designed to cow his opponents and bolster his supporters, all to his own eternal glory. As Levine said, “And he has lied nearly every day of his presidency, adhering to the well-known fascist dictum that the bigger the lie and the more you repeat it, the greater the likelihood that it will be believed as the truth.”

Novelist Phillip Roth was amazingly prescient in his novel, the Plot Against America, written 15 years ago before most of us heard of Donald Trump. In the book on which the television series was based a foreign power, Germany in that case interfered in the American presidential election like Russia did to help Trump. Journalists were the target of violence as anti-Semitism rose sharply. Exactly what has been happening. In the TV series right wing mobs on the streets looked exactly like the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville who marched with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” The president campaigned in the TV series, with the slogan of “America First,” echoing that of Trump.

Less than 2 days before the play based on the book opened in New York, a real domestic terrorist with an AR-15 and three handguns murdered 11 people during Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Later he told a police officer “all these Jews need to die.” The parallels were to the TV series were stunning. And disturbing.

we have all seen the  tendency of the many of the Trump supporters to take comfort from his racist tropes. This is dangerous and Trump did nothing to stop or even deflect that support. Instead, he bathed in it.

In the drama Herman Levin explains that with Lindbergh as president and  his sly comments about Jews, “Anti-Semites have permission because Charles Lindbergh is a heroic leader.” After hearing an election speech by Lindbergh his friend says, “the goyim are sharpening their knives.” Another character remarks, “win or lose there is a lot of hate out there and he knows how to tap into it.”

Like Trump, Lindbergh runs on a campaign of fear mongering. His campaign motto is, “The choice is simple, ‘Lindbergh or war’.” In the drama, Herman criticizes his friend Monty who supports Lindbergh because he thinks he is good for the economy. He is willing to look the other way: “Not long ago you couldn’t bear our Nazi loving president, but now profits are up, stock market is up, business is booming, everything else about Lindbergh, what he stands for is forgotten? What else matters to you business man?” Does this remind anyone of current Trump supporters?

Just like Trump, Lindbergh is able to unleash hate without actually calling for it. Both are sly. But their supporters know better. They “know” the Jews are not real Americans and they “know” their president agrees with them. On the streets, the America Firsters demonstrate against the Jews. They are empowered and energized by their leader.

When the rioting starts the hate catches fire. As Herman says, “I can’t believe how fast it spreads to other cities. When the hate is there it’s like dry leaves waiting on a spark.” Some how the America Firsters are on the wrong side. Herman says, “They call us “others.” They’re the others. Lindbergh is the other. That man is unfit. He should not be the president. It’s as simple as that.” Yes it’s as simple as that, but that’s not simple at all.

In the series, there is second term election, just like the US experienced recently,  and similarly, the second election results are not very clear. Lindbergh seems to lose. But does he? The results are conflicting. Wow is that familiar.

Then eerily there is trepidation. Where does this leave the American people? On shaky ground I submit. That is the real problem. Even if Trump leaves the White House, he will leave behind more than 70 million supporters who voted for him even after they saw him on TV every day for 4 years. They know what they voted for. These issues have not died. America needs to transform itself. Can it do that? It won’t be easy.

The Plot Against America

 

Philip Roth was a brilliant America writer. He understood the American tendency towards fascism long before any one had ever head of Donald Trump. He wrote a book about it in 2004 called, The Plot Against America. It was a lifetime ago in other words. This year a limited television series was shown based on that book. It was well worth seeing. It really demonstrated how easily America could be tipped into fascism. I would add that Canada is not all that different.

If you think fascism could never come to America or Canada this is a series worth watching and thinking about. The series asks us to consider what life in the United States would be like if Charles Lindberg a famous aviator and racist pundit had defeated Franklin Roosevelt in a presidential election in 1940. Remember, in real life, America had a lot of Nazi supporters at the time. Fro example, there was a political rally in New York that filled Madison Square Gardens with Nazi supporters. Is that hard to believe? In the series Roth Imagined the president signing a treaty of neutrality with Adolf Hitler as a significant number of Americans actually advocated. Then president Lindbergh slowly unleashed his anti-Semitic views, though often his words that were emitted by dog whistles that his supporters understood and many other Americans took as innocent. How would that turn out?

The New York Times described the series this way:

“In other words, as James Poniewozik of the New York Times wrote when the show debuted in March, “HBO asks the audience to imagine the outlandish idea that the presidency might have been won by a celebrity demagogue new to politics who appeals to bigotry and fear, who ran on the slogan of ‘America First,’ who boasts of having ‘taken our country back,’ who sees fine people on the most reprehensible side of history, who cosies up to despots and behaves as if he were their puppet.”

 Can you think of anyone this might describe?

Even when Trump is no longer the president, whenever that happens, as Allen Levine University of Winnipeg professor of politics and Winnipeg Free columnist opined, “It is not surprising that many political commentators are wondering if the country is veering toward fascism and authoritarianism.”

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, not exactly a flaming radical though tinged deeply with leftist tendencies, said  in a tweet on June 2, 2020, Trump is a fascist, and he is promoting fascism in America.” I keep repeating this but I am not concerned so much about Trump. I am more concerned about the fact that more than 70 million Americans voted for him in the 2020 election. That is deeply troubling to me.

Actually, I agree with Levine , that 

“In truth, Trump is not so much a fascist as an authoritarian; or more accurately, a would-be tin-pot dictator: “An autocratic ruler with little political credibility and delusions of grandeur.” He declared last year that article II of the U.S. constitution — which defines the powers of the president — gives him the right “to do whatever I want.”

In an interview a few months ago, he claimed that as president his “authority is total.” It is not, but by his impulsive actions Trump has shown time and again that he has no understanding or will not abide by the “checks and balances” system of American government if he can help it. This has become even more blatant after he saw how loyal to him his supporters remained after the impeachment trial earlier this year.

The television series shows how with such leaders the country could slide toward fascism. With the prospect of the current president refusing to leave the White House, we are now seeing evidence of that all around us. I don’t think it is wise to assume that this could not happen. Watch the series because it might disturb your sleep.

Poisoning Democracy

 

This is a continuation of my blog about Stephen Colbert’s reaction to Donald Trump. Colbert got serious: “Donald Trump tried really hard to kill something tonight.” Colbert was dressed in black because he said he was dressed for a funeral. Actually that was true. It was a funeral. According to Colbert, speaking of Trump, “He tried to “poison American democracy.” True again.

Trump said the same thing in 2016 that the election was rigged (even though he ended up winning the election). I suppose he discredited it in advance just to give himself an excuse if he lost  Well he did the same thing this year for weeks. In 2016 he said, “I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all of the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election–if I win!” And he thought that was funny! Was it funny?

 

Even before it was held, in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, Trump promised the 2020 election would be “the most corrupt fraud in the history of the country.” He said that for weeks. Right up to the election he kept making the same point he did in 2016. How did he know? The answer of course, is that he didn’t know. He wanted to sow doubt in case he lost. As always he wanted to obfuscate and deceive.

Trump was trying to poison democracy for his own selfish ends. Colbert spoke out against Trump supporters who failed to object to Trump’s attack on the election with deep emotion: “Because he just attacked the thing that makes us most great. And it is time for you all to mean what your hats have been yelling.

Colbert started by saying, “So, we all knew he would do this.” But he choked up and briefly broken down for about 15 seconds to collect himself and then, he continued with obvious deep emotion.

Colbert did not stop there. He begged Republicans who by their silence and failure to criticize Trump have enabled him. He implored them to condemn Trump as he richly deserved: “Republicans have to speak up — all of them. Because for evil to succeed, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing.” Everyone who supported Trump should speak up and disavow his toxic presidency. Everyone who does not do that is a party to the offence.

Those are strong words, but I think strong words are needed. Failure to speak up against demagoguery and tyrannical tendencies is crucially important. Here is how Colbert put it:

 

“Say something right now, Republicans… You only survived this up till now because a lot of voters didn’t want to believe everything that was obvious to so many of us: that Donald Trump is a fascist. And when it comes to democracy versus fascism, I’m sorry, there are not fine people on both sides. So you need to choose: Donald Trump or the American people? This is the time to get off the Trump train. Because he just told you where the train is going.”

 

This really caught my ear. Colbert called the president of the United States a fascist. Could that be true? That is a serious claim and on a national TV network. It was shocking. Was it true?

Trump challenging the legitimacy of the American election without any evidence is to challenge the legitimacy of the government without any evidence. If Trump does that successfully that can lead to only one thing American fascism. And no one should think that is impossible.

I want to think more about that.

Trump: From Demagoguery to Fascism

 

I have been talking a lot about truth and what I have called (as have others) the death of truth. I could not have had better examples than what the president of the United States said to the American people after the 2020 election. He demonstrated that he was, as Bill Maher kept saying, “a whiny little bitch.”

Did you see Stephen Colbert after the presidential election? It was surprising in more ways than one.

As Stephen Colbert explained, before all the votes had been counted, “President Trump came into the White House briefing room and lied for 15 minutes.” He said nonsensical stuff about dumping ballots and corrupt officials and secret Democratic counting cabals.

The Washington Post was not as coarse, but just as firm: The Washington Post called it “a speech of historic dishonesty” and “a litany of falsehoods and grievances, with some baseless conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.

Trump  said many things, always, entirely without evidence. I heard Trump tell the American people that he had been “robbed of victory.” He said he was the winner of the election since he had more “legal votes” than Biden. He said he had been “cheated out of victory.” Trump said the “mail-in-ballots are a corrupt system.” even though he had used it in the past. He said, “They’re trying to rig an election.” Many of us tend to dismiss the rants of president Trump. After all they seem too absurd for a rational person to seriously consider.

The problem is that words matter and this is particularly important when the speaker is the president of the United States. Millions of people actually believe what he says, as absurd as that sounds. They do. When Trump says the election is fraudulent his supporters tend to think that must be true and get enraged. That can be dangerous. We have seen this over and over again, whether it is the Proud Boys or the Boogaloo nuts from Michigan. Trump drives them to action and often those actions are dangerous. Trump often treats this as a joke but it is not a joke. It is serious business.

When I heard these strong statements I wondered what would his rabid supporters do? He has plenty of those. I heard and saw one on TV the next day. The supporter approached an election official who was explaining to a Nevada TV interviewer how careful he and others were being about counting the ballots and rejecting the bad ballots. They were interrupted by one of those rabid Trump supporters.

Colbert’s interpreted the incident this way, according to Emily Yahr,

“Colbert concluded by playing the viral video of Joe Gloria, the registrar of voters in Clark County, Nev., whose televised briefing this week was interrupted by a man shouting about how the “Biden crime family is stealing the election.” Gloria waited patiently until the man left and calmly asked, “Where were we?”

“He let that guy spew his crazy till he was tired and then watched him walk away. And then Joe Gloria took a deep breath and did his job. Which is what we should all do. Just stay cool,” Colbert said, and then segued into his regularly scheduled monologue.”

The election poll workers were still counting on Friday. Interestingly Trump wanted the election officials to stop counting in Pennsylvania where he was ahead but keep counting in Nevada and Arizona where he was behind. This is not quite as nonsensical as it sounds for every state has different rules. Yet we all know what Trump meant. He was not making a nuanced point. He never does. Bill Maher commented on that this way:

 “If your position is that they have to stop counting ballots in the state where you’re ahead, or its fraud, and they have to keep counting in the state where you’re behind or its fraud, you have to consider maybe its you who’s the fraud.”

 

Of course, as always when Trump makes outrageous statements he did so without any evidence to support the claim. He doesn’t need evidence for he knows most of his supporters will believe him without evidence no matter what he says. So why bother? His supporters, and there are millions of them, believe him entirely without evidence just like Christians believe Jesus. Evidence is not important when you talk about religious belief. Faith is important.

All of this had an important consequence however. I will get to that in the next few posts.