In simple terms, Fascism is “one party dictatorship”. We in America typically view our democracy as strong, a global model. I would argue that recent trends dictate otherwise. Let me put on my cynic’s hat. The Republican Party and its leadership over the last several decades have developed and masterfully executed a grand strategy to capture and secure their power into the foreseeable future. In doing so they are molding the country and its government according to their rules and values. The Republicans have been working hard to take control of state politics – governorships and legislatures. They are aided by the fact that rural states tend to be Republican; and they are also less densely populated. The constitution favors rural states by giving each state 2 senators, regardless of population. And the Senate has critical influence over the Judiciary with its “advice and consent” authority. Further with control of state governments, the Republicans can gerrymander its congressional districts to bolster their political strength. They can also legislate voting rules that hinder voting in a way to bolster their candidates. They can also legislatively push their agenda on issues such as abortion, gender equality, gun control and racial equality. We see their success in the news almost every day. The President being elected without the majority of the popular vote, rejected or challenged voter registrations, obstacles to voting, authoritarian rule making, blatant supreme court appointment ignoring popular opinion. Fake news, political distractions, rampant nationalism are all leading to ever increasing violence. “Enemy of the People” labels for long established and trusted news sources are one more worrisome indicator. My bottom line is that we are clearly on a treacherous path. I am not sure that there is an off-ramp without experiencing a crisis. So is the threat real? Clearly “YES”.
Paul Krugman, a New York Times Op-Ed writer, can to a similar conclusion in his recent piece, “Why It Can Happen Here”. He posits that what is happening in Poland and Hungary could happen here. Here are some excerpts:
In both countries the ruling parties — Law and Justice in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary — have established regimes that maintain the forms of popular elections, but have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent. The result seems likely to be one-party rule for the foreseeable future.
This week Axios created a bit of a stir with a scoop about a spreadsheet circulating among Republicans in Congress, listing investigations they think Democrats are likely to carry out if they take the House. The thing about the list is that every item on it — starting with Donald Trump’s tax returns — is something that obviously should be investigated, and would have been investigated under any other president. But the people circulating the document simply take it for granted that Republicans won’t address any of these issues: Party loyalty will prevail over constitutional responsibility.
A year ago it seemed possible that there might be limits to the party’s complicity, that there would come a point where at least a few representatives or senators would say, no more. Now it’s clear that there are no limits: They’ll do whatever it takes to defend Trump and consolidate power.
The point is that we’re suffering from the same disease — white nationalism run wild — that has already effectively killed democracy in some other Western nations. And we’re very, very close to the point of no return.
Take the time to read the entire op-ed, it is well worth it.
Photo by LSE Library