The Disturbing Rise of Authoritarian Politics in the US

December 9th, 2020 - by Thom Hartmann / BuzzFlash

When Will America Wake Up to the Evil That Has Seized the Republican Party?

Thom Hartmann / BuzzFlash

 (December 8, 2020) — We’ve seen it around the world and throughout history: when a political party or government exists solely to serve the very wealthy, and begins to lose power, they inevitably turn to authoritarianism and police violence.

We saw this in Florida when Gov. Ron DeSantis sent State police with guns drawn to intimidate the family of whistleblower Rebekah Jones, who he’d earlier fired for refusing to lie about Florida coronavirus statistics and is now publishing a daily “Florida coronavirus dashboard.“

We see it with Donald Trump committing a felony for which you or I would immediately go to prison, trying to tamper with the outcome of a legitimate election by threats, intimidation, and offering bribes to government officials.

We see it in Michigan where the Macomb County GOP seems to share an address with the group that showed up, armed, to threaten and intimidate the Secretary of State and her four-year-old son as they were preparing to watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

We saw it when armed Republicans with swastikas and Confederate flags invaded the Michigan capitol, and then tried to kidnap and assassinate Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

We see it with Lindsey Graham threatening Georgia Republicans that if they don’t support Trump’s brutal authoritarianism, crimes, and coup attempt they won’t get Republican votes. Violence and the threat of violence are the new currency in the GOP realm.

Because the Republican party only serves great wealth, when the Fed intervened in late spring to create $7 trillion out of thin air and use it to buy corporate stocks and bonds, reinflating the stock market, Republicans lost all interest in any kind of Covid assistance.

As long as the stock market stays high, wealthy people are good and the GOP doesn’t care what happens to average people – unless they speak out to expose Republicans like we saw in Florida. Then they bring in the police, guns drawn.

Now that Mitch McConnell‘s power in the Senate hangs in the balance in an election in Georgia, he’s suddenly willing to pass a tiny amount of relief for average working people, but the price he demands is to make it illegal for workers to sue their wealthy employers.

Meanwhile, the Republican Trump administration just quietly took an action to cut eligibility for Social Security Disability. They don’t give a rat’s ass about average people in pain; they only care about the rich. And most wealthy people right now are very, very happy with the GOP.

For Republicans, it’s all about money and the political power which gets them that money and helps them avoid paying taxes on it. When their power begins to slip, they roll out the threats, armed goons, and the police, all while chanting “law and order!“

The Republican Party neither represents law or order. Since Reagan’s election, they’ve exclusively represented the interests of giant corporations and billionaires, while using racism, regionalism and misogyny to manipulate working class voters.

The question our republic now faces is, “When will the people wake up?“

Time to Hold Trump’s Authoritarian Helpers Accountable

Thom Hartmann / BuzzFlash

(December 7, 2020) — What most vividly shows the difference between Ron DeSantis and Xavier Becerra? The crusade, and then the failure of that crusade, to make America into a fully authoritarian nation, and the return to democracy.

Donald Trump is a full-blown authoritarian; anyone who’s ever read a decent history of Germany, Italy, or Spain in the 1930s, or knows the history of Pinochet in Chile, knows this is an irrefutable truth.

But authoritarians don’t come to power by themselves; they have helpers. Ron DeSantis, a helper, bet that if he could cover up Covid deaths and misery in Florida, it would keep Trump in the White House and solidify DeSantis’ authoritarian political future as a “made man.”

Like all good authoritarian helpers throughout history, DeSantis was willing not just to let people die, but also to take explicit actions that caused the deaths of thousands his own citizens so he and Trump could strengthen the power of authoritarianism in America.

He wasn’t alone in this, of course. The same is true of Bill Barr, Rudy Giuliani, several other Republican governors 220 Congressional Republicans who won’t say Biden won. They’d all been working, hoping, depending on Trump’s reelection to solidify American authoritarianism.

And they weren’t alone, either. Numerous foreign dictators pushed these authoritarian efforts, flooding Facebook, Twitter and phony “news“ websites with propaganda pushing Trump and his authoritarian efforts. Like in 2016, the campaign was widespread, complex and well-funded.

They all gave it their best, and they nearly won, but it’s now clear that Trump and, for the moment, rightwing authoritarianism in the executive branch, have gone down in flames. Which brings us to a Xavier Becerra.

One of our brightest hopes now is Joe Biden‘s appointment of Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary. A former member of Congress and now California’s Attorney General, he’s an outspoken advocate of Medicare for all, even defending it on Fox News.

The first member of his family to graduate from college, Becerra opposed the 2008 bank bailout bill because it didn’t put enough money in the hands of average people and didn’t help working class homeowners. He fought hard to stop Medicaid and Medicare cuts.

In other words, Biden is moving our government away from supporting authoritarianism and putting into power people who openly advocate democracy, the rule of law, and economic rights for the average working person.

Ron DeSantis bet that he’d have full-blown authoritarianism with Trump as president again, and thus was willing to let Floridians die to help Trump hang onto power. He lost that bet. And now Bill Barr and the other rats are deserting the sinking ship.

Meanwhile, prosecutors and Attorneys General across the country are preparing to hold Trump and some of his authoritarian enablers to account. Hopefully, in two years America’s voters will do the same to their authoritarian allies in Congress.

Dr. Martin Luther King talked about “the arc of the moral universe“ that “bends towards justice.“ In the contrast between Ron DeSantis and Xavier Becerra we vividly see the bending of that arc. Hope is on the horizon: stay safe and keep working to rebuild this country.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of the War on Voting and more than 30 other books in print. His most recent project is a science podcast called The Science Revolution. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute

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