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Americans Are Poised to Turn the Page on Democracy

Voters will likely unleash a fascistic inquisition when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

Michael Harris 1 Nov 2022TheTyee.ca

Michael Harris, a Tyee contributing editor, is a highly awarded journalist. Author of Party of One, the bestselling exposé of the Harper government, his investigations have sparked four commissions of inquiry.

Nov. 8 will likely see a changing of the guard in Congress. If so, it will also begin the forced march of fascism toward a political inquisition in U.S. politics, the likes of which the country has never seen.

The way most pollsters and pundits see it, the Republicans are poised to evict the Democrats from the House of Representatives in the looming midterm elections. It may even turn into a blowout. The GOP stands a better than even chance of winning back the Senate as well. With Americans gasping at gas prices and their skinny wallets, President Joe Biden is about as popular as chewing tobacco.

It is hard to ignore the theatre of the absurd in the current situation. Emotion, and a puerile sense of economics, is ruling the roost south of the border. How could a party that denies the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency, a patently and demonstrably false belief, that has been debunked for two years now in court after court and the bona fide media, win power?

How could a party that supports a twice-impeached ex-president who attempted a coup to retain power and now faces a $250-million fraud suit brought by New York’s attorney general, gain the public trust?

Here is how one poster on Twitter explained it: “Seventy per cent of Germans mocked Hitler until they found out that his outbursts weren’t jokes. But it was then too late to do anything about it. It’s crazy that the majority of Americans still think Trump and his MAGA folks are just comedians.”

One person who isn’t laughing is Paul Pelosi. The elderly husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was recently attacked in his San Francisco home by a hammer-wielding election-denier who shouted during his attack, “Where’s Nancy?” Mr. Pelosi is now recovering from a fractured skull and other injuries. Donald Trump has not condemned the attack.

Make no mistake about it, this is no normal election year. There are nightly spectacles on the television news of armed vigilantes who call themselves “observers” setting up camp about 22 metres away from polling drop boxes. Their ostensible purpose is to detect signs of cheating in the early voting and to document it. They are the MAGA militia. They take pictures of voters, follow them back to their cars and take down their license plates. That is not observing. That is the old “we know who you are, and we know what you did” intimidation thing.

Such tactics seem to be working. According to a recent Reuters and Ipsos poll, two out of five U.S. voters are worried about intimidation at polling stations, and even acts of violence if the GOP doesn’t win.

In these post-truth times, it is not just facts that don’t matter. Neither does character. Richard Nixon appealed to an American Silent Majority, and preacher Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority launched the Christian right into U.S. politics. Now America is in the grips of the Immoral Majority, based on a lie so big it would have impressed Joseph Goebbels. Donald Trump has simply super-sized the whopper.

The only sin these days in GOP circles is speaking out against Trump, the de facto leader of the Republican party.

Liz Cheney may go down in history as a martyr to the truth, but she was swiftly disavowed by GOP leaders and kicked out of her own leadership position for dissing Trump. She was then defeated in her bid for re-election in Wyoming, after calling out Trump for his many transgressions, including inciting the mob that made the fatal assault on the U.S. Capitol. The Jan. 6 Select Committee has come to that conclusion after extensive investigations, including taking evidence from more than 1,000 witnesses.

Former football star Herschel Walker, on the other hand, could end up in the U.S. Senate for relentlessly supporting Trump. Who cares if Walker held a gun to his wife’s head, or paid for abortions he now claims he is against? Who cares if he thinks a phony police badge makes him a member of law enforcement?

The important thing is not Walker’s lies and hypocrisy. The issue to many Georgia Republicans is Walker’s loyalty to Trump, and his key role in winning back the Senate for the GOP. Fitness for office means nothing. Winning office is the be all and end all. It means control of the system. You know things are upside down when a Liz Cheney is shown the door, and a Herschel Walker gets the GOP establishment’s bear hug.

For anyone who thinks it is over the top to talk about fascism coming to American politics, it should be remembered that even President Biden has called the MAGA movement “semi-fascist.” Professor Tom Mockaitis of DePaul University in Chicago, an expert on extremism who has taught courses on Germany under the Third Reich, agrees.

The professor makes the point that the Nazis had their personality cult around Hitler and MAGA members have theirs around Trump.

Hitler banned a free press, and Trump has characterized the media as the “true enemy of the people.”

Hitler had his Brownshirts and Trump has his Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Hitler’s Big Lie was that Germany didn’t lose the First World War and was instead stabbed in the back by a cabal that included corrupt politicians. Trump’s Big Lie is that he didn’t actually lose the 2020 election, but that it was stolen from him by corrupt Democrats.

Hitler’s refrain was “one people, one realm, one leader.” Trump’s version as expressed at the 2016 Republican convention was “I am your voice. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.”

The professor’s bottom line is that not all MAGA members are fascist, but the movement’s ideology, which is both racist and xenophobic, certainly is. Remember what Trump said about Mexicans. Remember how he banned Muslims from entering America. Remember how he defended the white supremacists in Charlottesville.

If the trends hold true, and the GOP wins back Congress, all hell will break loose. It will not just be a change of parties. It will be the starting pistol for the biggest vengeance trip Americans have ever seen, with the full weight of government behind it.

How could it be otherwise?

Seventy per cent of Republicans falsely believe that the 2020 election was stolen. If the GOP can convince a majority of Americans to vote for them, there simply have to be consequences.

According to the Atlantic, a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll showed 68 per cent of Republican voters think Joe Biden should be impeached. “Thwarting those expectations could be dangerous for any House Republican.”

The GOP has no choice but to serve up red meat to the base. When you make election denial the centrepiece of your political pitch, retribution for the injustices, everything from allegedly stealing the election to searching Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, is the inevitable corollary.

The most obvious target will be President Biden himself. Trump hack and antisemite Marjorie Taylor Greene filed articles of impeachment against Biden on his first day in office with House Resolution 57. She has tried several more times since. If Republicans capture the House of Representatives, Greene will have no lack of sponsors to pull off impeachment. All it takes is a simple majority vote in the House to impeach. And it is the House that decides what amounts to “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

One thing that Biden can’t be impeached for is stealing the 2020 election. There is zero evidence for the Big Lie, and pursuing it as the grounds for impeachment would turn any legal forum trying to do that into a place with more kangaroos than the Australian Outback.

But the GOP still has an abundance of points of attack. The botched U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan; Biden allegedly using his influence in Ukraine to get his son a job with an energy company, even though Hunter Biden had very thin qualifications; allowing illegal immigrants into the United States; failing to complete the southern border wall; and selling oil from the U.S. strategic supply to foreign countries.

And then there is Hunter Biden himself.

The Republicans have made clear that they intend to investigate the president’s son on a variety of issues: his lack of qualifications for his job with Burisma in Ukraine; his past drug use; alleged tax crimes; and lying on an application to buy a firearm.

The man touted to head up the Justiciary Committee if the GOP takes the House is none other than Trump zealot Jim Jordan. Jordan is a merciless partisan, and would pursue his task as grand inquisitor of Biden with the added bitterness of having been refused a place on the Jan. 6 committee by the Democrats.

Nor are the president and his family the only targets. The GOP has already served notice on the Secretary of Homeland Security that they have grounds to impeach him for his “gross dereliction of duty,” a reference to the allegation that Alejandro Mayorkas has failed to protect the southern border from undocumented immigrants seeking to enter the United States.

Sen. Ted Cruz explained it this way: “The Democrats weaponized impeachment. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The Republican expected to soon become the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has already informed not only U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland but also the Department of Justice that he intends to investigate them.

McCarthy advised Garland to save his documents and keep his agenda clear — direct pressure on the man who will have to decide whether to indict Donald Trump on a variety of possible charges, including obstructing justice.

The purpose of investigating the Department of Justice is twofold. First, it would allow the GOP to make the case that Trump was corruptly persecuted. Second, it would further undermine trust in the most fundamental institution of any country that lives under the rule of law — the justice system.

With 2023, and the likely swearing in of a new congressional order, will come the year of living dangerously for America. Biden will almost certainly be impeached, his family hounded and besmirched, and his cabinet ministers either impeached or relentlessly investigated. Donald Trump will continue to take vindictiveness and mendacity to new lows, as he pulls the strings on the GOP puppets who already do his dirty work in Congress.

Brace for two years of bloodletting in America, aimed at satisfying Donald Trump’s bottomless appetite for revenge, and culminating in his taking back the Big Prize, the White House in 2024.

If that comes to pass, next Tuesday’s results will be seen as America’s tipping point from semi-fascism to the real thing.  [Tyee]

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