Which side are “We the People” on–democracy or fascism

By Rick Steiner / Common Dreams

It was once said that when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

For years, Americans have watched the troubling rise of the Tea Party/Make-America-Great-Again (MAGA) Republican Party’s thinly-veiled authoritarianism—fervent Christian nationalism, voter suppression, gerrymandering, disinformation and propaganda, dark money, corruption, intolerance, international isolationism, idolatry of world dictators, anti-regulation zealotry, self-interest over national interest, contempt for civil rights and the rule of law, coercion, intimidation, repression, misogyny, homophobia, racism, false morality, ethnic homogeneity, demagoguery, fear-mongering, pathological lying, denial of science, delusional conspiracy theories, personality cult, fomenting hatred, encouraging political violence, book banning, protecting corporate greed, declaring a free press “the enemy of the people,” packing the courts with far-right ideologues, dismantling the “administrative state” (aka, democratic institutions), vilifying opponents as “vermin,” claiming immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” and use of government mainly to enhance their own wealth and power.

Yet all the while, they have publicly pretended to still believe in democracy and the Constitution. Until now.

The MAGA goal is indeed to overthrow our constitutional democracy and replace it with their own dystopian dream.

At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), MAGA Republicans—paying homage to their deranged “dear leader,” who is beholden to the Kremlin, and if reelected promises to be a dictator on day one, release convicted felons who support him from prison, order mass deportations, and to selectively terminate the Constitution—finally said the quiet part out loud. The conference opened with this astonishingly candid statement:

“Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on January 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this, right here.”

The fanatic crowd erupted with glee. The only thing missing (we presume) were the jack boots and black arm bands.

There it is, in plain sight—full-blown fascism as a major political movement in America—precisely what our nation’s founders worried about, and what America and its allies fought WWI and WWII to prevent. This is an overt admission that January 6 was not a “demonstration that got out of hand,” but a failed coup (as most already knew), and that the MAGA goal is indeed to overthrow our constitutional democracy and replace it with their own dystopian dream.

Ironically, as lies and propaganda (including from foreign intelligence services) have been so effective with MAGA devotees, they could even succeed this November using the very electoral democracy they seek to overthrow. If they are not successful that way, they promise to keep trying.

Poet Maya Angelou once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The MAGA movement has now shown us who they really are, and we should believe them.

Fortunately, there are some principled Republicans who are not onboard the MAGA train. Unfortunately, they remain a minority in the neo-fascist Republican party today.

America’s political fault line is now crystal clear. This is a dangerous, existential moment for our nation. The question is which side “we the people” are on—democracy or fascism?

We’ll soon see.

Rick Steiner is a marine conservation biologist in Anchorage and was a marine conservation professor with the University of Alaska, first stationed in the Arctic. He proposed the International Arctic Marine Sanctuary at the 2022 U.N. Oceans Conference.