Even if Biden Wins, We Need to Protect Democracy From the Next Fascist President

Thom plus logo The major theme that emerged from last night's Democratic convention was that Joe Biden is a decent man while Donald Trump is corrupt, incompetent and mentally ill.

Which raises three questions : How did we end up with a corrupt, incompetent and mentally ill president; how did he get enough power to be able to twist the levers of government toward his own reelection; and why do Republicans in the US Senate continue to support him?

The answers track back to two highly corrupt supreme court decisions in the 1970s that set up the Reagan revolution, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's response to 9/11.

In 1976 and 1978, the US Supreme Court declared, for the first time in our nation's history, that if billionaires or corporations wanted to buy politicians, or even in the entire political party, that was no longer considered bribery or corruption. Instead, it was the exercise of "free speech."

As a result, huge amounts of money flooded into the GOP in the 1980 election, putting Ronald Reagan over the top. Lobbyists had radically expanded power because could use their money in unlimited amounts and radical new ways, and they set out on a 40 year campaign to bring us what, today, we know as the Trump administration.

Their money is also a large part of why Republican senators are still dancing to the tune of libertarian and billionaires and corporations in heavily polluting industries.

More recently, after 9/11 Congress created a new police super agency, named with the word that Adolf Hitler began using to describe Germany in 1937, "The Homeland," and massive new police powers were consolidated in the office of the presidency.

We saw Trump use these powers in Lafayette Park and Portland, as well as on our southern border, and he is now using those powers to track down and selectively prosecute individuals protesting in favor of democracy and against fascism. Donald Trump is often sabotaged by his own incompetence and mental illness. He blurts out his schemes before he has realized them, diminishing their effectiveness, as we saw with his admitting to what he was doing to the Post Office.

The next Republican president who wants to be a fascist dictator will probably not be as impaired or incompetent as Trump, and we need to get ready for that.

To save our republic, we need an immediate national discussion about how to break up, or at least constitutionally constrain, the Department of Homeland Security and get money out of politics at all levels.



DrRichard 3 years 44 weeks ago

You're right Thom. The DHS--I hate using the "H" word too--is like a state within a state, very powerful, brutal and accountable to no one. But in general the presidency has become far, far too powerful. Congress and the courts really need to come down on how many "executive actions" and "signing statements" and what have you that the office allows.

Unfortunately people (in the White House or elsewhere) don't give up power easily, and Congress has been so divided, corrupted and cowed that it's difficult to see it doing anything really serious on the matter. The War Powers Act may have been the last time it tried, and that went nowhere. So indeed the next president with ambitions to gain more power will likely do so--and it doesn't matter what party either. Clinton was a centralist, Obama talked a far better game than his actions showed, and each took more and more control, "all in the name of the people" of course.

Unfortunately whoever it is will learn from Trump's ineptness and be slicker. We may not even see the sleight of hand until years later. When I raved to my wife about the loathsome Cheney and how we'd gotten rid of scum like him wihen Nixon left, she wisely replied, "People like that always come back."

FJL's picture
FJL 3 years 44 weeks ago

Your points are what I love to bring up initially to friends in discussions on how we got here. If I may change the subject with one observation. Why doesn't anyone ever mention this?... If republican ideas and policies and platforms are so great for Americans, wouldn't they want everyone who can register to vote? I can hear Joe asking that now!

Legend 3 years 44 weeks ago

We have the perfect case, where the Executive Office is controlled by Trump and the Senate is controlled by Moscow Mitch. The Senate is controlled by small population states. Small population states tend to be rural and thus Republican controlled. It takes 22 of the smaller states to equal California's 38 million. They get 44 Senators and California gets 2. In the Senate you do what Mitch says or you are Jeff Flaked out. That is why Trump cannot be impeached. Under current system you have to make Democrats more popular in rural areas. I go to rural areas and I do not see what the Republican Party is doing for them. I am going to guess right wing radio which is controlled by the Republicans and is very rural. I live in a Republican controlled county and it is not intelligence that does it.

Karla in Gresham's picture
Karla in Gresham 3 years 44 weeks ago

I feel that elimination of the Fairness Doctrine further ate away at our democracy. The Surpreme court could had upheld it but didn't. Seems with no one trusting the news people fall for any crazy conspiracy theory resulting in voting uniformed!

I forget what it was called but changing the rule of what a coorporation does (create a product or service) to now include just making money did further damage, destruction of jobs and decline in the quality of our products and services. Thriving buinesses are now bought up and sucked dry of inventory and resources then sent into bankruptcy. This too had helped to destroy our real economy. This is clearly demonstrated now by the continued rise in the stock market while the ranks of the unemployed, poor, homeless and starving grow while small businesses suffer and close.

alis volat's picture
alis volat 3 years 44 weeks ago

I agree that DHS is a real problem, so is the fact that all policing agencies are now plugged into Joint Terrorism Task Forces and Fusion Centers. Here is an article from The Intercept that explains some of that:

A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff's Unit

We need to regulate and reform policing and funding on all levels.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 3 years 44 weeks ago

Both sides have taken turns getting elected by giving inspirational campaign promisses which, in the end, change nothing. Over and over. Same old same old. Then, along comes "Kick Ass" Trump. So refreshing. No nonsense. Rough "get out of my way" personality. Brand new approach. People flocked to him. That's how he got elected. And, we are still doing the same old same old.

Legend 3 years 44 weeks ago

Note that Willie W does not seem to notice the constant lies made by Trump. So he must buy into them.

It is getting more divided in that some real right wing radicals are running in FL and CO.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 3 years 44 weeks ago

Nope. Simply my thoughts on how I think he won the election. Sorry if I came across as negative. He lied to win, but his constant lying did not become obvious untill after the election.

whatabout's picture
whatabout 3 years 44 weeks ago

Thom, you asked

"Which raises three questions : How did we end up with a corrupt, incompetent and mentally ill president; how did he get enough power to be able to twist the levers of government toward his own reelection; and why do Republicans in the US Senate continue to support him?"

The answer is very clear. We got Trump because Obama was so totally inept and the people responded accordingly, although he can take credit for setting race relations back 25 years.

"We saw Trump use these powers in Lafayette Park and Portland, as well as on our southern border, and he is now using those powers to track down and selectively prosecute individuals protesting in favor of democracy and against fascism."

Do you mean these individuals or the 80+ days you have to stay inside your home in Portland to avoid the stench of urine, feces, burning buildings, broken bottles once filled with gasoline, or the residual smell of pepper spray floating through the air because of these acne farms out roaming unchecked through the streets every night?

"Donald Trump is often sabotaged by his own incompetence and mental illness."

Insert laugh emoji here.

Please don't ever accuse Trump of having a mental illness when you have the democrat party picking Crazy Uncle Joe Biden as the best they have to offer.

avn013's picture
avn013 3 years 44 weeks ago

Thom and (some of the other commentators): I appreciate the historical perspective and interpretation as to how (rather than why) we may have arrived where we are today. It reminds me of your “explanation” (narrative) of “where money REALLY came from” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ru7mYEippY. What I find interesting about such “narratives” is that (apparently?) difficult concepts are presented in “simple language”. They are not proofs by any means, yet they do provide a perspective (the power of all “successful” allegories) of how to think, how to decide and how to deal with a specific issue. Those interested in proofs can then go on their own (or with your help if they ask for it) to collect the “hard data” that proofs usually require.

The beauty of allegories is that they avoid (specific) personal references. Personifications of abstract concepts, natural or hyper-natural forces may of course appear in such narratives. Occasionally, even names of certain humans (people) that existed such a long time ago that their names evoke thoughts and feelings towards legends, which many associate with these humans, show up in such narratives. However, mentioning specific names of current living humans often reduces the allegory to a distorted and possibly (perceived as) biased argument. Perhaps, I am too old fashioned and prefer your presentation of 7 years ago, even though I sense that your ”beliefs” (core opinions) have not drifted. Perhaps you can achieve “driving your point through” in the more specific rhetoric you have developed recently. It is your choice.

Op Ed Daily's picture
Op Ed Daily 3 years 44 weeks ago

Strange, Thom. You had several callers over the last few days talking about this - that the next "Trump" wouldn't be as "in your face" racist and hateful and would be more successful, so you called them a concern troll and cut them off.

What gives?

Legend 3 years 44 weeks ago

The lies started long before the election. People that voted for him bought into them. Has Mexico paid for the wall? He has built 3 miles of "beautiful wall". Has he released his taxes? Infrastructure? Healthcare plan? I could tell they were lies. Maybe if you only listen to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh could you not tell they were lies. https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/trumpometer/?ruling=true

Xfilerose 3 years 44 weeks ago

Just want to point attention to an extremely interesting article on Politico today entitled 'He’s destroyed Conservatism': The Republican Case Against Trump's GOP discussing Stuart Stevens in well framed concerns that the Republican party as a cartel and a malign force that jeopardizes the survival of American democracy.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 3 years 44 weeks ago

Trump: “ kick ass…no nonsense…rough get out of my way.” Sounds like someone describing a dictator, not a President. This is just the BS that Trumpers like to tell themselves and anyone that will listen to valididate their support for an incompetent, corrupt, pathological lying bigot.

Didn’t know that Trump was a pathological liar until after the election, My Ass! Everyone of his fellow Republican candidates at the debates were screaming at the top of their lungs, until he got the nomination.

Please! All this “they’re all the same” is just more BS that Republicans like to roll out when their newly minted messiah blows up in their face. Then all of a sudden, “they are all the same.”

The National Debt is largely the repair bill for the damage done by Republican Presidents.

Regarding Trump saying, “if you can protest in person, then you can vote in person.” Just more idiotic BS from the pathological lying Trump. Anyone with half a brain knows that voting in person has become more and more difficult. Wether it be the result of Republicans removing polling places, voter suppression or just the plain fact that their are way too many voters to be accommodated by polling places in a single day of voting. Do Republicans really think that voters can just take off work, leave the kids a home, etc. to stand in line for hours and hours, even if they are physically able to. I’ve got news for Republicans, the population is a lot bigger than it was during WWII. Today, there is just not enough time and places to vote. Period!!

Voting in person has just not come feasible for a large segment of the voting public and their is no sane reason to require them to do so.

Legend 3 years 44 weeks ago

Trump is a train wreck every day. Why would anybody vote for this guy? Today he calls for a Boycott against Goodyear. Because they have a policy against any political clothing in the workplace. ANY! This is very common in companies and is to eliminate harassment. If he had the brains to talk to HR experts he would find that most major companies have similar policies.

Legend 3 years 44 weeks ago

Op ED, The callers that he said that to are the ones that call in and say that Biden/Harris is not the right ticket for various reasons. We are past that. We have our candidate and VP. Lets proceed in absolute positive steps to elect them and get the only other choice out of there. 4 more years of Trump will destroy this country. Vote like your life depends on it because it very well may.

James A Eberle's picture
James A Eberle 3 years 44 weeks ago

Mr. Hartmann. I have a special request of you and your readers. We all recognize that the illigitimate re-election of Trump would signal the end of American democracy and a descent into the abyss of fascism.

I have proposed a physical model of political dynamics that illustrates the degree to which Trump's re-election would close the book on democracy in this country. I know that I sould like a self-important kook. Please don't dismiss me out of hand. I am very sincere and offer insights on how systems of government (including our own) can be lost.

My model is titled: "A Three Dimensional Political Model" and can be found on my rarely read blog: www.peakeverythingonline.com . To access, you will have to scroll through to the bottom, bypassing about five more recent entries. In the interest of full disclosure, my model has not been peer reviewed, though Daniel Ziblatt, co-author of "How Democracies Die" told me in an e-mail last November that he would review it when he got the time.

My model is, and has been, a major academic undertaking. To truly understand it will take study. The model is a synthesis of David Nolan's two-dimensional model, and Arthur Schlesinger's Cyclical Theory Model; elaborated upon to include non-democratic systems.

For the longest time I couldn't fully understand the full nature one of the critical components of my model: the Restoring Force. It required that I read "How Democracies Die" by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt to finally realize that it is the sum total of the institutions, norms, and guardrails of democracy. With this, the model was complete.

Should you or anyone undertake what I request, please pay special attention to Figure #10, which illustrates the primary means by which democratic systems of government are lost; something alarmingly that is happening now.

Should this comment be ignored, I will keep trying. There is too much at stake.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 3 years 44 weeks ago

Right on Willie W., you're speaking the UNCOMFORTABLE truth. It's really too bad most Americans can't discern the truth from "show business".

America totally DESERVES COVID-45, damned shame!!

avn013's picture
avn013 3 years 44 weeks ago

Extremists of any type (political, environmental, racial, religious etc) believe that "others" lack the ability to "see" the (their) Truth, and fallback to enforcing some kind of social engineering. Although pepople as a whole are not perfectly enlightened, they have evolved from pure idiocy and they do better thna that. Nowadays a lot of people see "through" the rhetoric of politicians and they usually do not buy it (worldwide). There are well known jokes about politicians and their "truthfulness" worldwide. For example paid walls, perfect solutions to health, unemployment, jobs, jonbs, jobs ("it's the econ, stupid") etc. Many who end up not even voting are simply tired of the swamp they are living in or trying to make a living in it. If a truth is uncomfortable, it simply suggests that a problem needs to be addressed at a deeper level and not just treat a symptom (scratch the surface). Proper allegories can offer ways of thinking "out-of-the-box", which may provide (usually does) a way out of persisting and recurring problems. Simply put, why expect something different if the inout is the same? Or in a more pessimistic version "garbage in, garbage out".

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