It’s easy to claim to love democracy when your own side is winning. When your party is losing, though, then you tend to show your true colors. Since the election of 2018, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to see what Republicans think of democracy when it really counts, and the results aren’t pretty.
Republicans rammed through a long list of laws in Wisconsin aimed at preventing the incoming Democratic governor from doing what the voters elected him to do. They’ve done something similar in Michigan. In North Carolina, there may be a new election because of blatant Republican voter fraud. Their contempt for democracy could not be more clear.
Paul Krugman has more than once pointed out how similar our Republicans are to the authoritarian regimes taking hold in Europe:
The fact is that the G.O.P., as currently constituted, is willing to do whatever it takes to seize and hold power. And as long as that remains true, and Republicans remain politically competitive, we will be one election away from losing democracy in America.
Voter-approved state laws are also under attack. Missouri’s constitutional amendment to prevent gerrymandering, Florida’s restoration of voting rights to ex-convicts, and a medical marijuana measure in Utah are all being “slow walked” by Republicans or outright replaced by legislation not approved by voters.
One partial solution Democrats should pursue, is to change state constitutions so that there can be no monkey business during the lame duck session, because there is no lame duck session. Let the term of every legislator end on election day. The same should be done at the federal level.
Let’s talk about another member in good standing of the Republican Party, Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte. He’s a convicted violent criminal.
In May 2017, the day before a congressional special election in Montana, Republican Greg Gianforte, physically assaulted a reporter…. The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs pressed Gianforte with a substantive question about health care policy, and the GOP candidate responded by attacking the journalist, throwing him to the ground, and breaking his glasses.
Gianforte and his campaign lied to the public about the unprovoked violence — they issued a public statement accusing Jacobs of instigating the physical altercation, despite an audio recording that proved otherwise — and we later learned that the Montanan lied to the police, too.
Gianforte nevertheless won his election, and after the votes were counted, he pleaded guilty to assault.
Donald Trump, who you may vaguely recall having expressed support for law and order, is campaigning now for the convict’s reelection. And the pitch is not “you should forgive him for assaulting a member of the press,” rather, Trump praised the assault, and Republicans at the rally roared their approval.
This is not a problem with “tone.” It is actual literal incitement to violence being committed by the leader of the Republican Party. Not for the first time. And he is not alone among Republican leaders in approving of violence against the press. And it comes during a week when Trump has been literally helping the Saudi government cover up the murder of a journalist who worked for the Washington Post.
Control of the mass media (by intimidation, among other means) is a defining characteristic of fascism. We should turn out for the coming election, because we literally may not get another chance to vote.
We already knew our Congressman Steve King is in the habit of palling around with fascists, from sharing social media posts by Nazis and other white supremacists over and over, to taking meetings with fascist leaders. So you will not be surprised that he has now openly endorsed a white supremacist mayoral candidate running in Toronto, Ontario. Why does he do these things? Because Steve King is a fascist.
King, we should underline, is a member in good standing of the Republican Party, treated well by Trump and by House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is co-chair of Kim Reynolds’ campaign for Iowa Governor. Because the whole Republican Party is fascist now.
There has never been a more important election to turn out for. Vote against Steve King, and for J.D. Scholten. Vote against Kim Reynolds, and for Fred Hubbell.
We know that nearly 3,000 Americans died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. We know that, because the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University did a scientific study based on actual mortality data and death certificates.
These facts are not the story that Donald Trump would like to tell. Trump would prefer that the Puerto Rico disaster response be a success story, with himself as the paper-towel-tossing hero. So he is now literally claiming that the Democrats made up the number out of whole cloth, to make Trump look bad.
This is a technique called the big lie. And it works, particularly among people who have been told to disbelieve what they read in the press. And, as usual, Republican leaders are complicit in the Dear Leader’s lies.
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
This could be written about Donald Trump today, couldn’t it? But it wasn’t. It was written during World War II, by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, as part of their psychological profile of Hitler.
No, that is not an exaggeration, there are no less than five races this year in which the Republican candidate on the ballot is “a card-carrying Nazi, a Holocaust denier, a proud white supremacist, or all of the above“:
- Russell Walker, Republican nominee for state House, North Carolina
- Arthur Jones, Republican nominee for U.S. House, Illinois
- Corey Stewart, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Virginia
- Paul Nehlen, Republican nominee for U.S. House, Wisconsin
- John Fitzgerald, Republican nominee for U.S. House, California
These are not isolated cases, not bad apples, not aberrations. This is the logical end point of the last forty years of Republican politics. You pander to racism, you get a party full of racists. You can’t disavow what you are.
Update 2018-08-17: Steve West, who literally believes Hitler was right and said so on a radio program, has won the Republican nomination for a state House seat in Clay County Missouri. By 25 points. The Missouri Republican Party has gone through the ritual exercise of condemnation:
Steve West’s shocking and vile comments do not reflect the position of the Missouri Republican Party or indeed of any decent individual. West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments.
But apparently West himself does have a place in the Missouri Republican Party, and that place is “winner of the primary election.” How far out of step with the Republican Party could he be, to win by 25 points? Did Missouri Republicans take the obvious next step, do the right thing, and urge voters to support West’s Democratic opponent on election day? Nope.
If you have read this blog before, you’ve heard me suggest more than once that fascism is ascendant in America. If you still think that’s an overstatement, perhaps this latest bit of evidence will change your mind.
Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA official and author, wrote a blog post in which he explicitly calls for Trump opponents to be killed. This is justified, in his mind, and no doubt the minds of others, because Trump opponents are involved in a coup against the Trump government. Note the detail he provides:
Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs of those who hate and threaten them, their families, their way-of-life, their liberty, their livelihoods and their republic. No self-respecting and determined-to-remain-independent citizenry can let themselves forever be held hostage by thug-civil-servants like Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.
Just in case you missed it, “all of the mainstream media” and “Democratic members of Congress” are on Scheuer’s death list.
Notice that he’s not calling for the government to round up people. He’s calling for civilians to pick up their guns and go out and kill their neighbors on behalf of the government. This is precisely how fascist violence begins, as it did, for example, in Italy in 1922.
The transition of a society from liberal democracy to fascism isn’t a sudden thing. The gradual transformation must have seemed normal and sensible to a lot of Italian, Spanish, and German citizens in the 1930s. It’s worth asking today how future historians will view the America of 2018. Will they wonder why we we went along, why we didn’t seem to notice what was happening?
Several signposts are already in the rear-view mirror. The President has called news reporters “enemies of the state” and openly incites violence against them. We had an open gathering of KKK members and actual Nazis in Charlottesville, described by President as “very fine people.” Trump has repeatedly praised President Duterte of the Philippines, who literally describes himself as a fascist, and particularly likes Duterte’s program of mass murder. He has asserted more than once that he is above the law. We have Rep. Steve King, R-IA, openly and repeatedly expressing his support for fascists. We have various Republicans saying, as Ted Nugent did, that Democrats should be shot, and that people who take down Confederate monuments should be lynched, and that it’s a good thing when reporters are beaten. We have death threats against a federal judge who blocked Trump’s Muslim ban. We have numerous incidents of anti-Semitism, including one at a Republican event. And we have actual Hitler-loving Nazis praising our current administration.
So what has been happening lately?
That is an incomplete list of things that have happened in just the last two weeks. We should probably all be thinking about how history will judge us for resisting, or failing to resist, in 2018.
Another shocking-but-not-surprising thing from Representative Steve King, the Republican who represents this very district: he shared, approvingly, a social media post from a British neo-Nazi, Mark Collett. That’s not just my characterization of Collett’s views, he describes himself as a “Nazi sympathizer” and an admirer of Hitler’s Germany.
There can be no doubt about Collett’s abhorrent vision. As a Slate piece explained, “According to HuffPost, Collett was once the youth leader of the British National Party, an extreme far-right party, and he once said that AIDS is a ‘friendly disease because blacks, drug users, and gays have it.’ He has also espoused anti-Semitic beliefs and appeared frequently on far-right and white nationalist podcasts. In his Twitter feed, he talks about white genocide, a popular concept among white supremacists, and the ‘price of multiculturalism.’”
But what matters in this case is not Collett’s disgusting worldview. It’s not even Steve King’s unsurprising willingness to promote Collett’s online content.
What shouldn’t go overlooked is the Iowa Republican’s ability to get away with stuff like this – because the right-wing congressman’s party has an endless tolerance for his offensive antics. Or put another way, the question is less about Steve King and more about what GOP leaders intend to do about Steve King.
For example, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is running for a full term this year, and she chose King to serve as one of her campaign co-chairs.
This isn’t new behavior for Steve King. We have previously documented some of his white supremacist statements here and noted his friendly relations with fascists in France.
If the Iowa Republican Party is OK with this, and obviously they are, then they are un-American, and unfit to be in government.
NRA board member Ted Nugent compares Democrats to rabid coyotes who should be shot. Not in a private conversaion, which would be bad enough, but on the radio.
So here’s a question for Matt Windschitl, Republican leader in the Iowa House: what does it take for you to denounce Ted Nugent and the NRA?
Oh, wait, I think we already have Windschitl’s answer.
If Donald Trump says all those racist things when he’s putting on his best face for the cameras, what must he be like when the cameras are off? We don’t have to speculate. In June of 2017, this was Trump in front of his staff:
- He said Afghanistan was a terrorist haven.
- He said of legal Haitian immigrants, they “all have AIDS.”
- He said of legal Nigerian immigrants, that once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts.”
That’s right. The President of the United States said that people from the most populous country in Africa live in huts. About what you’d expect from the guy who thought there were “fine people” among those making Nazi salutes in Charlottesville.
Yes, you may be thinking, but it’s a long way from being a racist to being a fascist dictator. Not so long, perhaps. Trump has just asserted, with regard to the Russia investigations, that he has the “absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department,” a claim that Richard Nixon would have been embarrassed to make. I’d like to see a comment on this article, from a Republican who has one of those little copies of the Constitution in his pocket, explaining why this shouldn’t alarm the rest of us.