Trump led the coup. True believers still cling to the idea he did great things
Unprecedented was the “it” word this week. The treasonous acts uncovered by the House Select Committee that Trump and his Republican supporters committed had never occurred in the history of the United States.
Trump’s sheer will to power, and his malevolence, are part but not the full explanation. For some time now, sheer chaos seems to be the norm in the United States. But there is a point to the pandemonium, specifically to prevent the country from returning to the progressive path it followed from 1933 to 1980.
FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society, and Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, as well as his very persona and charisma, are Bryan Stoker’s Dracula for the Republicans and other right-wingers.
The Trump-Republican “revolution” is really a counterrevolution against the progressive forces that have prevailed in the culture, to a lesser extent in politics, and once and perhaps again in the areas of social and economic justice.
White panic over “a great racial and ethnic replacement” and the anxiety of those who have benefitted from decades of policies for the little rich and the big rich and who assumed that this would continue in a 1,000-year Republic of for the better off and the very rich are the main drivers of the madness that infects the GOP.
What madness? A Congressional inquiry is unraveling the intricacies of a coup plot to thwart the peaceful transfer of power from a defeated reactionary Republican president to a mildly progressive Democrat, the first such coup attempt in the long history of the United States.
The attempted coup was led by the defeated president who desired to march in front of an armed mob to seize power at the Capitol, but was pressured by security considerations and by members of his own inner circle to desist. Trump was thus prevented, by circumstances, from reenacting Mussolini’s march on Rome. Had he succeeded, it would be the first time in the country’s history that a political leader had forcibly superseded the wishes of the voters, and that one man had usurped the powers the Constitution grants Congress.
At roughly the same time, the Supreme Court, for the first time ever, abolished a right it previously recognized, the right to an abortion. It was established 50 years ago in the Roe v Wade decision. It became clear, moreover, that the overturning of such a longstanding precedent was made possible by three things: a decades-long and deliberate process of packing the Supreme Court with right-wing antiabortion judges by Republican presidents and senators; the blocking by Republican senators of pro-choice judges, preventing them from even receiving a hearing; and the persistent lying by the anti-abortion Republican nominees during their confirmation hearing, who insisted that Roe was settled law and they had no intention of overturning it.
Those who oppose the ongoing transformation of a liberal state to an autocracy, now well under way in the United States, must have a clear view and accept hard historical facts. This nation is not a democracy; it was founded on principles intended to prevent it.
If this were a democracy, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have been elected. If this were a democracy, states like California and New York would have many more Senators and Wyoming and Montana many fewer. We would have a different Senate that would never have packed the Supreme Court with blatantly pro-business, pro-gun, anti-abortion justices. We would have a Court more closely aligned with public opinion that favors gun control, supports Roe, and wants a balance between corporate, consumer, and worker interests.
The fight we must wage now is not to preserve a mythical democracy. It is a struggle to prevent a rollback of the modest level of democracy we have achieved as a foundation to expand democratic gains in the future. It is a long, hard road. The system is rigged against democracy. There are roadblocks in every direction. Needed, above all, is a higher level of consciousness and self-consciousness.
Let me close with an example right out of the House Hearings. Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25-year old chief of staff to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief-of-staff, is being showered with kudos for telling the damnable truth about her boss Meadows, about Trump who is Meadow’s boss, and about the rest of Trump’s diehard sycophants. I join the chorus but with very strong caveats.
Hutchinson testified that she was sad the actions of the president at the 11th hour would overshadow “all the good things he did for the country.” Like, what? Please make a list. Putting children in cages? Slandering Mexicans and other immigrants who do the hardest and most essential work and have often paid for it with their lives? Concocting a fake university to defraud naïve students? Practicing nepotism and every other form of self-serving corruption? Delivering policies that enabled Covid-19 to run wild leading to thousands of preventable deaths? Polluting the Supreme Court with lying ideologues? No one is all bad. Hitler built the Autobahn, developed the VW, and brought unemployment down. Trump brought the bigots up from their burrows.
I am not a Catholic or even a believer, much less a priest. But, Cassidy, save your sadness for a better time. Rejoice the ogre is down and out.
If I were a priest, I would not grant you absolution because you have not repented and rather doubled down by continuing to express admiration for Trump’s cruel policies. Examine through clear moral lenses Trump’s track record of outrages and kind choices and make a judgment then.