Bob Sheak, July 24, 2022
In this post, I consider how Trump, the Republican Party, and their allies are trying to replace our tenuous democracy with an authoritarian alternative. I analyze the anti-democratic positions of the Republican Party and Trump, how Trump has been instrumental in galvanizing varied right-wing forces into a relatively unified political force, and how they are using anti-democratic means to achieve their goals. The current evidence suggests that they have a political advantage in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. If they should win elections and win a dominating role in the political system, we would lose our democracy and many of our constitutional rights.
A two-party political system
The U.S. political system revolves around two dominant political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This realty is reflected in the 2020 presidential election results.
James M. Lindsay reports Biden won the Electoral College tally by 306 to Trump’s 232, and the popular vote by 81,283,098, or 51.3 percent of the votes cast, to Trump’s 74,222,948, or 46.8 percent (https://cfr.org/blog/2020-election-numbers). That is, Biden won the popular vote by over 7 million votes. Third parties picked up only 1.8 percent of the votes cast. Lindsay writes:
“That’s the largest total voter turnout in U.S. history and the first time more than 140 million people voted. Voter turnout in 2020 was the highest in 120 years when measured as a percentage of the voting-eligible population: 66.7 percent. You have to go back all the way to 1900 to find a higher percentage turnout (73.7 percent). The election of 1876 holds the record for highest turnout: 82.6 percent. That, of course, was also one of America’s most controversial and consequential elections—and not in a good way.”
Was the 2020 presential election “close”?
Lindsay poses this question and suggests there are two ways to answer it.
On the one hand, Biden won comfortably if you go by the popular vote. “In the past six presidential elections, only Barack Obama in 2008 won by a larger total vote margin than the 7,060,140-vote margin that Biden piled up. Likewise, Biden’s 4.5 percentage point lead is the largest win in the past six elections other than Obama’s seven-point win in 2008.”
On the other hand, it would have taken only the ‘right mix of 42,921 votes in Arizona (10,457), Georgia (11,779), and Wisconsin (20,682), the Electoral College would have been tied at 269 all. The House would have then decided the election. Republicans will hold the majority of state delegations in the new Congress, and they undoubtedly would have chosen Trump.”
What the Republicans stand for
At least since the election of Ronald Reagan in1980 and the increasing influence of right-wing forces in the Republican Party, the party has been drawn domestically to hyper-partisan, extreme, anti-democratic policies.
Economically, the Republicans favor deregulation, low taxes (especially on the rich and powerful), and the privatization of or little-restricted access to any potentially profitable government functions or assets. Overall, Republicans follow their corporate benefactors by supporting anti-union laws, lower and restrictive government spending, especially on social-welfare programs. Along with many Democrats, they support increases in military spending. For them, the corporate elites and the rich are the wealth creators on which the rest of society depends and therefore deserve government support. They blame the high inflation rates on Biden’s policies rather than on the prices set by oligopolies.
President Biden issued an executive order on July 9, 2021, titled “To Promote Competition in the American Economy” (https://whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/07/09/executive-order-on-promoting-competition-in-the-american-economy). The order documents how the economy has increasingly ceased to be a “fair, open, and competitive marketplace…while excessive market concentration threatens basic economic liberties, democratic accountability, and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers.”
Yet over the last several decades, “industries have consolidated, competition has weakened in too many markets.” The Executive Order goes on:
“Consolidation has increased the power of corporate employers, making it harder for workers to bargain for higher wages and better work conditions. Powerful companies require workers to sign non-compete agreements that restrict their ability to change jobs. And, while many occupational licenses are critical to increasing wages for workers and especially workers of color, some overly restrictive occupational licensing requirements can impede workers’ ability to find jobs and to move between States.”
CEO-worker pay gap
Anne Field reports on relevant data from Just Capital, a nonprofit that ranks large publicly traded companies on their performance in governance and labor policies
(https://forbes.com/sites/annefield/2022/05/23/ceo-worker-pay-gap-widens-and-employees-arent-happy-about-it/?sh=2249f56a142c). The data show that average CEO pay has increased 31% over the last three years and median worker pay rose 11%.” She continues.
“In fact, the average CEO-to-median -worker pay ratio as of 2020 is 235:1, up from 212:1 three years before.
“Furthermore, certain industries had ratios with particularly wide disparities. Those with the highest pay gaps—averaging above 340:1 from 2020 to 2022—included many sectors, such as restaurant and leisure and healthcare, that employ large numbers of frontline workers. Those with the lowest pay gaps—averaging below 160:1 from 2020 to 2022—included banks, capital markets and computer services.”
Politically, the Republicans in Congress, most importantly in the Senate, do their best to obstruct most legislation advanced by Democrats. Wide swaths of the corporate community support right-wing policies. The political clout of large corporations rests fundamentally on their control of vast resources and the impact large corporations have on communities, jobs, businesses, and ecosystems.
Corporate executives also lobby government, hire government officials when they retire, and fund candidates and groups, often without revealing the identity of the source, while supporting massive political ad campaigns. Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media spread right-wing analysis and content. Dan Pfeiffer’s writes: “The conservative movement invested billions in building up a vast and varied disinformation apparatus – buying up television networks, investing in websites, promoting YouTubers, and so on. And they all push out these Big Lies” (Battling the Big Lie, p. 62).
Protect the rich and powerful wealth creators
Ideologically, they are arch neo-liberals. See Jack Rasmus analysis of neoliberalism in his book, The Scourge of Neoliberalism. The rich and powerful believe or assert that wealth is created by private-sector innovators and corporations, that government should support policies that buttress top-down economic policies, and, as indicated, they expect the economy will grow and economic benefits in jobs and consumer prices will trickle down.
Punitive views of the poor
They blame poverty on unsubstantiated claims about the poor, for not looking for work, for not being disciplined workers on the job, for not getting a good education, for unstable family life, for anti-social values. Such people do not deserve much public support and such support should be limited and require that the adult poor must work off any benefits they may receive. Historian Michael B. Katz provides a broad overview of this attitude in his book, The Undeserving Poor: America’s Enduring Confrontation with Poverty.
Profiting from jails and prisons
Republicans are willing to support funds for privately-run prisons. It heightens support for the party in towns where the prisons are located and is consistent with Republican animus toward most public policies. They accept the reality of high jail and prison rates as a price to be paid for living in a “free” society. They have little inclination to reform the prisons. Maya Schenwar elaborates the point (Locked Down, Locked Out). Here’s a sample of what she writes on the problem.
“Incarceration serves as the default answer to many of the worst social problems plaguing this country – not because it solves them, but because it buries them. By isolating and disappearing millions of Americans (more than 2.3 million, making us the most incarcerated nation on the planet), prisons conveniently disappear deeply rooted issues that society – rather, those with power in society – would rather not attend to.”
She adds: “Ninety-five percent of prisons are released. They’re emerging from their isolation poorer and more alienated then when they went in. They’re coming out with fewer economic opportunities and fewer human connections on the outside. Many…fall into harmful patterns, sometimes in order to survive, sometimes because they feel they have nothing much to live for. Others are reincarcerated for the flimsiest of reasons as ‘parole violators, especially if they’re black or brown or Native or gender-nonconforming poor. More than 40 percent of those released return to prison within three years.”
At the same time, Republicans lean toward treating powerful law-violators leniently in the corporate community, in government and among the rich. On the latter point, see Rena Steinzor’s book, Why Not Jail: Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.
At the state and local levels, Republicans are gerrymandering federal and state congressional districts, finding ways to suppress the vote of opponents, and passing laws that give Republican-dominated state legislatures the opportunity to nullify or ignore the popular vote and select their own “electors” to certify presidential and state elections. Will Wilder and Katie Friel give examples from Georgia, Florida, and Texas on laws that are designed to limit the overall vote in 2022 (https://brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/5-state-laws-based-voter-fraud-myths-will-hamper-future-elections). Here’s one example in Georgia’s S.B. 202.
“It prohibits local election administrators from accepting funding from private sources and expanding the legal rights of poll watchers to observe elections without constraints by election administrators. The law also limits the availability of drop boxes and restricts access to mail voting by imposing stricter identification requirements for absentee voters and shortening the window to apply for absentee ballots. Tellingly, one of S.B. 202’s cosponsors echoed widespread conspiracies supporting the Big Lie, suggesting in an op-ed that unreliable mail ballots changed the outcome of certain races in 2020.”
Purging the civil service
Eric Katz reports that, “If Trump Is Reelected, His Aides Are Planning to Purge the Civil Service” (https://govexec.com/2022/07/trump-reelected-aides-plan-civil-service/374842).
“Officials are looking to revive a controversial order issued in Trump’s waning days and have already identified 50,000 federal positions to target.
“Former aides close to President Trump are working to revive and expand his signature proposal to upend the federal civil service, according to a new report, and are working in conjunction with the former commander in chief to quickly purge thousands of federal employees if he were to return to office.
“The plan, as detailed to Axiosand confirmed by Government Executive, would bring back Schedule F, a workforce initiative Trump pushed in the 11th hour of his term to politicize the federal bureaucracy. The former officials and current confidantes are, through a network of Trump-loyal think tanks and public policy organizations, creating lists of names to supplant existing civil servants. They have identified 50,000 current employees to dismiss under the new authority they seek to create, Axios reported and Government Executive confirmed, though they hope to only actually fire a fraction of that total and hope the resulting ‘chilling effect’ will cause the rest to fall in line.”
The point is to give a Trump or Republican administration in the future “the power to get rid of any employees it deems as standing in the way of implementing its agenda and replace them with loyalists.”
If Republicans should win control of the federal government in the 2022 and 2024 elections, then the civil service and other parts of the federal government will be reorganized in ways that strengthen the power of the anti-democratic Right and further diminish independent government regulation, oversight, and voting rights for opponents.
Culturally (or social policies)
Ronald Brownstein critically analyzes the Republican Party’s claim that they alone are the party that will protect American freedoms (https://theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2022/07/democrats-republicans-rhetoric-freedom-rollback/661519).
“For decades Republicans have marketed themselves as the party of freedom. During the 1990s and early 2000s, conservative activists took up the description of the GOP coined by the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist as the ‘leave us alone’ coalition, so named because it consisted of voters whose stated aspiration was to live without government interference. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Republican governors led by Ron DeSantis in Florida gravitated toward unbending opposition to business and school shutdowns, as well as to mask or vaccine requirements, often overriding Democratic-run local governments that tried to impose them.”
“‘It has frustrated me that Republicans love to cloak themselves in this blanket of freedom and feel as though they own it somehow, when in fact what they are selling to the people of Pennsylvania, or the American people, really isn’t freedom at all,’ Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and Democratic nominee for governor, told me in an interview. ‘It’s far bigger government and more control over people’s everyday lives.’”
“Supposedly representing the party of smaller government, Republicans across red states have in recent months approved a wave of intrusive actions as they work to unravel the ‘rights revolution’ of the past 60 years. These measures include authorizing vigilante lawsuits by private citizens against anyone involved in providing an abortion and state investigations of parents who approved medical transition treatment for their transgender children (both in Texas), as well as restrictions on how both teachers and private companies alike can talk about race and gender and how K–12 teachers can discuss sexual orientation (the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, in Florida). DeSantis has penalized in various ways the Walt Disney Company, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, and the Special Olympics for objecting to his policies.
The Party vigorously supports anti-abortion laws that eliminate a girl’s or woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. The New York Times editorial board critically responds to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that makes I hard, if not impossible, for a girl or woman to obtain an abortion in “red” (Republican) states (https://nytimes.com/2022/06/24/opinion/dobbs-ruling-roe-v-wade.html). The Board makes these points.
#1 – “For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has eliminated an established constitutional right involving the most fundamental of human concerns: the dignity and autonomy to decide what happens to your body. As of June 24, 2022, about 64 million American women of childbearing age have less power to decide what happens in their own bodies than they did the day before, less power than their mothers and even some of their grandmothers did. That is the first and most important consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday morning to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
#2 – “About half the states in the United States are expected to enact laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases.
#3 – The expected harms. “Many women may be forced by law to carry pregnancies to term, even, in some cases, those caused by rape or incest. Some will likely die, especially those with pregnancy complications that must be treated with abortion or those who resort to unsafe means of abortion because they can’t afford to travel to states where the procedure remains legal. Even those who are able to travel to other states could face the risk of criminal prosecution. Some could go to prison, as could the doctors who care for them. Miscarriages could be investigated as murders, which has already happened in several states, and may become only more common. Without full control over their bodies, women will lose their ability to function as equal members of American society.
#4 – “The central logic of the Dobbs ruling is superficially straightforward, and the opinion is substantially the same as the draft Justice Alito distributed to the other justices in February, which was leaked to the press last month. Roe and Casey must be overruled, the ruling says, because ‘the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,’ including the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process. While that provision has been held to guarantee certain rights that are not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution, any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.’
#5 – “The three dissenters in the Dobbs case — Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — called out the majority’s dishonesty, noting that its exceedingly narrow definition of ‘deeply rooted’ rights poses a threat to far more than reproductive freedom. The majority’s denial of this is impossible to believe, the dissenters wrote, saying: ‘Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid-19th century are insecure.’”
Christian and White Nationalists
These are large contingents of the right-wing coalition. Mike Lofgren writes that the “GOP’s Army of Christian Nationalists and White Supremacists Pose a Danger Greater Than You Know” (https://commondreams.org/views/2022/07/14/gops-army-christian-nationalists-and-white-supremacists-poses-danger-greater-you). Here’s some of what he writes.
“From my former staff position in Congress, I observed the infiltration of the Republican Party by the religious right. In particular, I became alarmed at the shadowy undertakings of GOP congressman belonging to ‘the Family,’ a secretive group that believes in imposing theocracy on America. Having left the Hill partly as a result of what I saw as the religious right’s subversion of the Party of Lincoln, I’ve spent the last decade attempting to warn the public about the existential danger the GOP poses.”
“There is another group associated with “nationalism” that is much in the news: white nationalists, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazi groups like Richard Spencer’s blandly named National Policy Institute, the Aryan Nation, and similar groups. At first sight, Christian fundamentalists and white nationalists seem to have little in common: what do self-described sober, church-going Christians have to do with a violent rabble of criminal misfits?
“First, there is a substantial overlap in membership, as strange as this might sound. In recent decades, many Christian nationalist leaders have begun obsessing over ‘taking back America’ by any means necessary, including violence. This is unsurprising, because fundamentalist Christianity broods over violence and mayhem as a theological tenet, emphasizing the gorier parts of the Old Testament such as the Israelites’ mass slaughter of the Canaanites.”
“The irony of this is that many white nationalists are either nonreligious or explicitly pagan (like Aryan Nation and the various neo-Nazi groups). Yet they and the Christian nationalists bury their extreme theological differences to ally against their common enemy: the Enlightenment, a tolerant society, and equal justice under law.
“If one still thinks of white supremacists as a not very numerous lunatic fringe, their nearly successful attempt to violently overthrow the government should dispel any illusions. As such, they may act as shock troops for a movement of millions of people. And let us not forget the grotesque irony that many January 6th rioters piously paused to pray before seeking to hang the vice president and the speaker of the House; the fact that a pagan shaman was also on hand seemed to seal a bizarre alliance.
“Other strange fellow travelers of the Christian fundamentalists are the extreme libertarians. It has been said that libertarianism is the peculiarly American form of authoritarianism; it is often a label used by people to disguise, for tactical reasons, the fact that they are de facto Republicans. These libertarians are frequently the paymasters of Republican politicians (as evidenced by Peter Thiel, the Koch fortune, the Mercer family, et al.), and as such, wield outsized influence over the GOP.”
“Peter Thiel’s philosophy boils down to saying that your moral worth equates to how much money you have. His notions dovetail nicely with Christian fundamentalists who espouse the Prosperity Gospel, the claim that one’s wealth is a sign of God’s favor. Both libertarianism and fundamentalism have more similarities than differences in their hostility to a liberal, tolerant society with a social safety net. Rich libertarians reason that they can buy their way out of any inconvenience that an intolerant theocracy might entail, like no social services or a rotting infrastructure.
“Many libertarians such as the Randian Objectivists are dismissive of religion. Ayn Rand herself was a militant atheist who regarded Christianity as the creed of slaves. But like the white supremacists, they feel they have more in common with Christian extremists than a liberal, secular society that might presume to tax them and regulate product safety or insure against the vicissitudes of old age or disability.”
The myth that the founding fathers were all Christians
Nicholas Rathod challenges this widely held position in Republican circles (https://americanprogress.org/article/the-founding-fathers-religious-wisdom). He writes:
“Many of the founding fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Monroe—practiced a faith called Deism. Deism is a philosophical belief in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems. Deists believe in a supreme being who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws—and after creation, is absent from the world. This belief in reason over dogma helped guide the founders toward a system of government that respected faiths like Christianity, while purposely isolating both from encroaching on one another so as not to dilute the overall purpose and objectives of either.
“If the founders were dogmatic about anything, it was the belief that a person’s faith should not be intruded upon by government and that religious doctrine should not be written into governance. James Madison, for instance, was vigorously opposed to religious intrusions into civil affairs. In 1785, when the Commonwealth of Virginia was considering passage of a bill “establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” Madison wrote his “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” in which he presented 15 reasons why government should not become involved in the support of any religion.
“In his first term as president, Thomas Jefferson declared his firm belief in the separation of church and state in a letter to the Danbury, Conn. Baptists. He said: ‘Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.’”
Trump – the head of the right-wing coalition/alliance
Trump has been instrumental through tweets, rallies, and appearances on Fox News and other right-wing outlets in bringing various groups into an implicit or explicit alliance. Initially, he gained national notoriety around his false claim that Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore legally ineligible to be president.
He has since become the leader of a massive right-wing movement that brings together pro-gun advocates, Christian nationalists, white supremacists, anti-immigrant proponents, many of the rich and powerful, and those who favor strongman governments. On the last point, see Ruth Ben-Chiat’s book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present).
Admiration for authoritarian governments
Julia Conley reports on how Trump and many Republicans admire the authoritarian government of Victor Orban (https://commondreams.org/2022/07/11/authoritarian-victor-orban-speak-us-conservatives-annual-summit). For example, Orban was invited to speak at the U.S. upcoming Conservatives’ Annual Summit in August.
“Orbán won his fourth term as prime minister in April on what one progressive called a ‘dark day for democracy.’ After becoming prime minister in 2010, he began to muzzle independent media outlets, resulting in rampant disinformation and fawning coverage of Orbán leading up to the election, as well as little coverage of his opponent.
“He also rewrote election laws in order to become Hungary’s longest-serving prime minister and has led the government’s attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, banning schools from presenting information about gender identity and homosexuality—as right-wing state leaders in the U.S. have in recent months.”
“A primary driver of the prime minister’s collaboration with the Republicans, however, appears to be helping corporations and the wealthy maximize their profits. As Common Dreams reported last week, Orbán’s government is coordinating with the GOP to defeat a 15% global minimum tax pushed by President Joe Biden.”
Journalist Sarah Kendzior writes on Trump’s and the right-wing attraction to authoritarian leaders ((https://cnnn-com/2019/07/02/politics/donald-trump-dictators-kim-yong-un-vladimir-putin/index.html).
“Trump is part of a complex illicit network including individuals from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Kingdom, and more – some of whom do not have loyalty to any particular country. Their loyalty is to themselves and their money” (Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, p. 8). CNN’s Chris Cillizza and Brenna Williams report that by July 19, Trump as praised authoritarian leaders 15 times, including Kin Jong Un (North Korea), Recep Tayyip Erdogon (Turkey), Xi Jinping (China), and Vladimir Putin (Russia)
Also see John Feffer’s new book, The Right Across the World: The Global Networking of the Far-Right and the Left Response. In addition to the far-right leaders already referred to, Feffer identifies as authoritarian leaders Rodrigo Duterte (Phillipines), Narendra Modi (India), Victor Orban (Hungary), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil). Beyond the leaders, there are right-wing political parties, still minority parties, in most European countries.
Scheming an attack on the Capitol
Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey report that “Trump has been fixated on overturning the election for weeks, making hundreds of calls to allies, lawyers, state legislators, governors and other officials and regularly huddling with outside lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-capitol-building).
And Trump fed “his base through twitter that the election was rigged against him, even before he lost the election on November 3. He asked his right-wing supporters to come to Washington for a rally on December 6, when a joint-session of Congress was convening to take the final step to sanctify Biden’s victory. It was at this rally, including a crowd of some 30,000, that Trump told the crowd to march to the US Capitol building”
Supporting the violent assault on the Capitol
The House impeached Trump the first time for his activities and lies, but could not get the needed two-thirds of the Senate to indict him. The House impeachment report, released on January 12, 2021, includes the following statements from the “Introduction” (The Second Impeachment Report).
“The Constitution grants the House of Representatives the ‘sole Power of Impeachment,’ not merely as a safeguard for the nation between elections, but also in cases where the removal of the President is urgent and necessary to preserve the security of the constitutional order. The House must invoke this power now to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021. President Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors when he urged his supporters to storm the United States Capitol Building and then failed to stop the ensuing violence. His actions marked the culmination of an exclusive and unprecedented effort to overturn the results of the presidential election” (p. 2).
In the months after the failed impeachment trial, Trump – and many members of the Republican Party – continued to lie about the election and to encourage supporters to go on looking for the evidence of fraud, hoping the election could be reversed.
Trump’s efforts to win the 2020 presidential election by any means began well before the election itself, when he repeatedly said that millions of mailed-in ballots were fraudulent. Then after the election, Trump claimed that the election was fraudulent, that millions of votes cast for Biden were invalid, that millions of votes for him were not counted, and, absurdly, that Biden must prove to him that the 80 million plus votes he received were indeed valid votes before he concedes.
Susan B. Glasser writes in an article for The New Yorker on January 7th that the country ‘had to brace for an alarming confluence of virus denialism and election denialism between November 3rd and January 20th’ ((https://newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trump-washington/its-not-just-trumps-war-on-democracy-anymore).
“As devastating as it is for American democracy, it is no longer news that the President insists, as he did in a tweet the other day, that he is the victim of the ‘greatest Election Fraud in the history of the United States.’” Then, in the days immediately following the election, “Trump said that his goal was to ‘STOP THE COUNT,’ ‘stop the steal,’ or to demand recounts, or to discover evidence of fraud’”
They continue to support the Big Lie
“Trump has escalated and escalated, culminating on Wednesday [Nov 9, 2020] with a single-word tweet announcing his new goal: not to win the election but to ‘#OVERTURN’ the results.” Even more strikingly, while his lawyers lost 64 court cases since the election, Trump has told millions of Americans through his Tweet account to believe that the election was rigged against him. Seventy-seven per cent of Republicans” according to a Quinnipiac poll [Nov 10, 2020] agreed with Trump that the election has been stolen.
The percentage has since shrunk, in part perhaps because of the Jan.6 Select Committee’s hearings. Still, the majority of Republicans agree, according to a Reuter/Ipsos poll completed on Thursday [July 21, 2022], that the 2020 presidential election was stolen? (https://reuters.com/world/us/cracks-appear-trumps-standing-among-republicans-after-jan-6-hearings-2022-07-21).
Jason Lange, the author of the article, offers the following evidence.
“In the latest poll, a majority of Republicans – or 55% – continue to believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
“While that share is down from 67% in early June, the view has remained prevalent even after state and federal judges dismissed more than 50 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies challenging the election. Reviews and audits similarly found no evidence of widespread fraud.
“Some 57% of Republican respondents said they believed most of the protesters at the Jan. 6 riot were peaceful and law-abiding, a share essentially unchanged from early June. Four people died on the day of the attack, at least 140 police were assaulted, and one Capitol Police officer who fought against the rioters died the next day.
“More than half of Republicans polled continue to believe the riot was led by left-wing protesters, even though nearly all of the hundreds of people arrested following the attack have been Trump supporters, according to U.S. prosecutors. FBI Director Christopher Wray has said there was no evidence leftist extremists disguised themselves as Trump supporters during the attack.”
Tax cuts for the rich and powerful
Trump’s tax legislation, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was passed in Congress by a party-line vote of 224 to 201 and signed into law on December 22, 2017. According to David Floyd, the disproportionate share of benefits went to corporations and higher-income groups (https://www.investopedia.com/taxes/trumps-tax-reform-plan-explained). Floyd writes:
“For the wealthy, banks, and other corporations, the tax reform package was considered a lopsided victory given its significant and permanent tax cuts to corporate profits, investment income, estate tax, and more. Financial services companies stood to see huge gains based on the new, lower corporate rate (21%), as well as the more preferable tax treatment of pass-through companies. Some banks said their effective tax rate would drop under 21%.”
Encouraging violence against election workers
Stan Cox documents such violence (https://commondreams.org/views/2022/07/15/confronting-policy-murder-and-rising-violence-right).
“Last month, the House January 6 committee hearings highlighted the abuse now being endured by the people who keep the electoral system going. Perhaps most appalling was the testimony of Georgia election workers Wandrea’ “Shaye” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman. When Donald Trump falsely accused them by name of scanning fake ballots in 2020, they were bombarded with death threats, many of them racist. Moss had to change her appearance, go into hiding, and work remotely. She finally left her job in April and is still suffering harassment.
“Election workers across the country, fearing for their safety, are resigning in droves. Often, they are being replaced by people who are willing to subvert the vote. A nationwide survey found that one in six election officials has been personally threatened, and one in three knows a fellow official who resigned because of threats.
“The election-year metaphor ‘battleground states’ is threatening to turn grimly literal. I was shocked to learn that today only seven states and the District of Columbia ban guns from polling places. With the rise in violent rhetoric and gun violence that’s been occurring since the 2020 election, voting sites and vote-counting centers are bracing for increased violence in November. Officials are worried because of folks like Mike Detmer, a contender for the Michigan state senate in the August 2 Republican primary. He told a meeting of prospective poll workers in January, ‘The ideal thing is to do this peaceful, that’s ideal, but the American people at some point in time, if we can’t change the tide, need to be prepared to lock and load. So, if you ask what we can do, show up armed.’
“In a panoramic, chilling July 6 article, Rachel Kleinfeld, a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace laid out how the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other violent “militias have been embraced by GOP leaders at the national, state, and local level,” including in Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, California, Arizona, Wyoming, Florida, and Nevada. Having studied the rise of party-linked militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Nigeria, Colombia, and other countries, and the bloody consequences, Kleinfeld warns that “Even if Trump passes from the scene, the embrace of violence and intimidation as a political tactic by a faction of the GOP will cause violence of all types to rise—against all Americans.”
Republicans appear to have an advantage going into 2022 midterm elections
Nate Cohn analyzes the evidence as of July 13, 2022, when Republicans seem to have an advantage as the 2022 midterm elections approach (https://nytimes.com/2022/07/13/upshot/poll-2022-midterms-congress.html).
#1 – Events have caused President Biden’s approval ratings to be “mired in the 30s and with nearly 80 percent of voters saying the country is heading in the wrong direction.”
#2 – New York Times/Siena College survey finds respondents split on whether they prefer Democratic or Republican control of Congress – 41% favor Democratic Control v 40% who favor Republican control.
#3 – The recent “wave of mass shootings and the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade have at least temporarily insulated the Democrats from an otherwise hostile national political environment while energizing the party’s predominantly liberal activist base.” “The results suggest that the wave of mass shootings and the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade have at least temporarily insulated the Democrats from an otherwise hostile national political environment while energizing the party’s predominantly liberal activist base.” – “In the wake of the court’s ruling, the poll finds greater public support for legal abortion than previous Times/Siena surveys. Sixty-five percent of registered voters said abortion should be mostly or always legal, up from 60 percent of registered voters in September 2020.”
“Voters who said issues related to abortion, guns or threats to democracy were the biggest problem facing the country backed Democrats by a wide margin, 66 percent to 14 percent.”
“Over all, white college graduates preferred Democratic control of Congress, 57-36. Women propelled Democratic strength among the group, with white college-educated women backing Democrats, 64-30. Democrats barely led among white college-educated men, 46-45.”
#4 – At the same time, Republicans appear to be making new inroads among nonwhite and working-class voters — perhaps especially Hispanic voters — who remain more concerned about the economy and inflation than abortion rights and guns.
“The fight for congressional control is very different among the often less affluent, nonwhite and moderate voters who say the economy or inflation is the biggest problem facing the country. They preferred Republican control of Congress, 62 percent to 25 percent, even though more than half of the voters who said the economy was the biggest problem also said abortion should be mostly legal.
“Just 74 percent of the voters who backed Mr. Biden in the 2020 election, but who said the economy or inflation was the most important problem, said they preferred Democratic control of Congress. In contrast, Democrats were the choice of 87 percent of Biden voters who said abortion or guns was the most important issue.
“The economy may be helping Republicans most among Hispanic voters, who preferred Democrats to control Congress, 41-38. Although the sample size is small, the finding is consistent with the longer-term deterioration in Democratic support among the group. Hispanics voted for Democrats by almost a 50-point margin in the 2018 midterms, according to data from Pew Research, then President Donald J. Trump made surprising gains with them in 2020.
“No racial or ethnic group was likelier than Hispanic voters to cite the economy or inflation as the most important issue facing the country, with 42 percent citing an economic problem compared with 35 percent of non-Hispanic voters.
“Republicans also appear poised to expand their already lopsided advantage among white voters without a college degree. They back Republicans by more than a two-to-one margin, 54-23. Even so, nearly a quarter remain undecided compared with just 7 percent of white college graduates.
“As less engaged working-class voters tune in, Republicans may have opportunities for additional gains. Historically, the party out of power excels in midterm elections, in no small part by capitalizing on dissatisfaction with the president’s party.
“Only 23 percent of undecided voters approved of Mr. Biden’s job performance.
Silvana Read, a certified nursing assistant who lives outside Tampa, Fla., is one of the Hispanic voters whom Republicans will try to sway to capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with Mr. Biden.”
Steve Peoples and Aaron Kessler also report on the Republican electoral advantage, as “voters switch lopsidedly to the GOP
“A political shift is beginning to take hold across the U.S. as tens of thousands of suburban voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party’s gains in recent years are becoming Republicans.
Across 31 states, about two-thirds of voters who have switched their official party registrations in the past year have switched to the Republican Party, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The phenomenon is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump.
“Nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Pittsburgh. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Des Moines, Iowa.”
The right-wing forces in the U.S. are gaining momentum and, as of July 2022, appear to be on the cusp of taking control of the House and possibly the Senate in the November mid-term elections. They already control the Supreme Court and the majority of state governments, have strong support from the rich and powerful, spread disinformation to millions of Americans through right-wing media, appeal to the cultural, if not the economic, interests, of right-wing forces, and include people and militia who are armed and ready to engage in violence to get the changes they want. Indeed, there is even some discussion of a possible civil war, if Republicans do not take control of the government through elections (https://commondreams.org/views/2022/07/04/50-year-attack-right-wing-corporate-forces-leading-us-back-toward-civil-war).
The eclipse of democracy is not inevitable. But, as this post has documented, Trump, the Republican Party and their supporters want to replace democracy with an autocratic leader and a right-wing transformation of the government at all levels. In the process, they have galvanized substantial political support.
The resultant society would stifle or eliminate many constitutional protections for critics, health providers, and teachers. A right-wing government would also promote armed militia, encourage citizens to inform on health providers, teachers, and anyone who is suspect under such a regime, undermine the social safety net.
Robert Reich considers the current situation as a battle involving Democracy vs. Autocracy” (https://commondreams.org/views/2022/07/08/lets-be-clear-battle-us-democracy-vs-autocracy). He says that “America needs a national pro-democracy movement to stop the anti-democracy movement now underway.”
“This political alliance with corporate power has given these Republican legislatures free rein to pursue an extreme culture war agenda — one that strips away rights that majorities of people support — while deflecting attention from their corporate patrons’ economic agendas.
“Republicans are introducing bills that restrict or criminalize abortion. They’re banning teachers from discussing the history of racism in this country. They are making it harder to protest and easier to harm protestors. They are punishing trans people for receiving gender-affirming care and their doctors for providing it.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are still laboratories of democracy where true public servants are finding creative ways to defend the rights of us all.
“Elected officials in Colorado and Vermont are codifying the right to abortion. California lawmakers have proposed making the state a refuge for transgender youth and their families. And workers across the country are reclaiming their right to organize, which is helping to rebuild an important counterweight to corporate power.
“But winning will ultimately require a fifty state strategy — with a Democratic Senate willing to reform or end the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade, protect voting rights, and protect the right to organize nationwide.
“America needs a national pro-democracy movement to stop the anti-democracy movement now underway — a pro-democracy movement committed to helping candidates everywhere, including in state-level races.”