How Democracies Die

This video from VOX is good background on authoritarianism. As the video points out, Trump didn’t create authoritarian voters. Voters with authoritarian views have been part of the fabric of our politics for quite a while. Trump was the first national candidate of a mainstream party to appeal directly to these voters for their support.

Democracies don’t die in a conflict.

They die from rot. They die because people stop defending them. They die out of fear. They die because people are more concerned about their own personal gain rather than what is best for the country. They die because the unwritten norms of behavior that serve as guardrails against self-serving behavior are destroyed by those who claim winning and ideology are more important than the common good.

I just finished reading a book on the subject (How Democracies Die) by two Harvard political science professors, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. They make a very convincing case for serious concern.

The big risk to democracies is authoritarianism. It’s what most worried our founding fathers. How do you give everyone the vote and protect the country from the majority voting democracy out of existence? Many claim that the original sin of our democracy was slavery, but that’s not exactly right. The original sin of our democracy was restricting the right to vote to white male property owners because a majority of those framing the constitution didn’t trust anyone else.

Democracies don’t explicitly exclude authoritarians from the electoral process. As a result, once authoritarians get into office, they can use the considerable power we invest in the executive branch to dismantle the democracy that just elected them. This blueprint has been followed in other parts of the world with remarkable effectiveness.

Once this process starts, it is very difficult to stop for two reasons. The first is the popular support that elected the authoritarian to begin with. The second is that the authoritarian leader uses their popular support to systematically eliminate all opposition.

Putin’s Russia is a perfect example.

Russians have made a devil’s bargain. They know who Putin is. They have accepted authoritarian rule in exchange for economic progress and a return to superpower status. In the process they have sacrificed whatever rights and freedoms they may have had in earlier more democratic governments.

Here’s the authoritarian check list.

1. Rejecting or showing weak commitment to democratic rules.
2. Denying the legitimacy of political opponents.
3. Encouraging or tolerating violence.
4. A readiness to stifle or limit civil liberties of opponents, including media.

Putin definitely qualifies.

So does Trump.

Rejecting or showing weak commitment to democratic rules
Trump claimed that the 2016 election was rigged against him. The only outcome he would accept is his victory. Even after he won, he claimed that massive election fraud prevented him from winning the popular vote. Republicans never challenged him on this claim even after the election commission he created failed to find any evidence of the massive voter fraud he claimed occurred.

There was a similar outcome to his claim that the previous administration had bugged his office and spied on his campaign without cause. Subsequent investigations could find no evidence that his office was bugged. Some in his campaign got caught up in FISA investigations into Russian interference in the election, but there has been no evidence that there was any directive from the Obama administration to gather information on Trump campaign in order to help elect Hillary Clinton. In fact, the evidence was just the opposite. The Obama administration was reluctant to act on all that it knew about Russian involvement BECAUSE they did not want to effect the outcome of the election. The Obama administration was demonstrating a commitment to the rules controlling our democracy (don’t use executive power to interfere in elections) at the same time as Trump was ignoring them.

Denying the legitimacy of political opponents
On the campaign trail, he said Hillary Clinton was a criminal and promised to lock her and President Obama up if he was elected. He called Democrats who refused to stand and applaud his State of the Union address traitors.

Encouraging or tolerating violence
Many of his rallies were violent. He encouraged his followers to beat up those who protested, offering to pay their legal bills. He refused to condemn Nazi and white supremacist violence.

A readiness to stifle or limit civil liberties of opponents, including media
He called the media that printed stories that he didn’t like, “enemies of the people”. He threated to weaken the libel laws protecting the media. He perverted the term “fake news” to reflect news stories that he disagrees with. Under oath, his communications director admitted that she lied to the press and the public in support of the Trump administration.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. There are many more examples in each category. The purpose is NOT to outline a list of Trump’s failures. The purpose is to point out that NO OTHER PRESIDENT IN HISTORY has satisfied all four criteria. Even Nixon bowed to court orders to turn over his tapes. He had hopes that he could survive an impeachment vote in the Senate. When Goldwater told him that he didn’t have the votes, he resigned.

In 1972, Nixon won with 60% of the popular vote and 97% of the electoral vote. He won on the promise to bring law and order back to the country. McGovern only won Massachusetts. Two years later Nixon resigned. On the day of his resignation he still had the support of 24% of voters.

In the past, the two major parties served as an effective defense against authoritarian candidates getting the nomination. Republicans failed in their role and then failed again when leaders in that party failed to take a stand opposing Trump after he won the nomination.

Some think that constitutional checks and balances will prevent a demagogue like Trump from solidifying his power. Those checks and balances, however, depend on a set of strong democratic norms which govern the behavior of both parties.

The two norms the professors mention are mutual toleration and forbearance.

Mutual Toleration
Both parties agree that the other party not only has a right to exist but that the party out of power will likely gain it back at some point in the future. By exercising restraint, the party in power hopes to benefit from restraint when they fall out of power.

Forbearance
Both parties refrain from demonizing the other party because at some point they know that they will be in the position to be demonized.

The most recent example of failure to respect these norms was the Republicans holding an open supreme court seat hostage for the first time in history and then also for the first time in history changing senate rules to allow their candidate to win senate approval with a simple majority vote.

The Bork nomination was an example of Democrats abusing their power in a similar circumstance.

Now we are witness to a President in open warfare with the FBI, trying to stop the investigation of an independent counsel, and continuing to lie on daily basis about virtually everything.

Under Trump, governing has become a zero sum game where there are only winners and losers. There is no longer interest in the common good. The only interest is in what Trump feels makes him look good. As a result, the country lurches from scandal to scandal, conflict to conflict, without any direction or any clear overarching principle to guide us.

What happens when Trump fires Mueller?

Are there REALLY enough Republicans willing to oppose that move? Some have said they would oppose that move, but legislation intended to protect Mueller has not made any significant progress in Congress.

What if the Mueller investigation uncovers information that implicates Trump in some criminal or treasonous way?

Are there REALLY enough Republicans willing to do their constitutional duty and hold Trump accountable? According to a recent Pew poll, 50% of Republicans are not confident that the Mueller investigation is fair. Only 23% of Democrats share that view.

If Trump isn’t held accountable, how will he respond to all those who attempted to bring him down? He believes that this conflict is good for him. I don’t doubt that he would fire whomever he feels he needs to fire to preserve his power.

If the Mueller is able to build a case against Trump, he will likely bring charges using the unindicted co-conspirator language that is reserved for the President. That because there are constitutional questions about whether a Grand Jury can indict a sitting President. The Courts have generally deferred to the constitutional process of impeachment rather than take up the case against a sitting President themselves. If Congress fails to impeach Trump based on those charges, I don’t doubt that Trump will retaliate with both the FBI and the IRS in the same ways that Nixon did with those on his enemies list.

What happens then?

You want to know how democracies die.

This is how.

21 Responses to “How Democracies Die”

  1. Keith says:

    Trump Hits Again at Mueller, Invoking Dershowitz’s Support

    Holder refusing to go after Black panthers at poll sites holding baseball bats

    IRS agents taking the fifth and nothing further being investigated

    An attorney general on the tarmac with the former president’s wife who happened to be maybe under investigation…

    Etc etc etc

    Jeff you are so bright but what I will never understand is how you are so blinded and one sided in the name of spiritual wickedness. Two Harvard guys who hate trump.

    There is no point responding to your post which I can hear every night on Rachel Maddie’s show on MSNBC

    You simply couldn’t let you last post on gun control stand for a week on its own which I agreed with 100%. Lol
    Hope you’re well.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Two Harvard guys who hate trump.

    This is another way that Democracies die. When tribalism is more important than defending democracy.

    What evidence do you have that these two distinguished political science professors “hate Trump”? They are warning those who will listen that Trump is the first President in history from a major party to appeal directly to authoritarian voters. The demographics from the election supports that claim.

    Trump also is the first President in history to satisfy the four criteria for authoritarianism. If that’s inaccurate, please show me where.

    Finally, it is also accurate that the folks who wrote the constitution were VERY concerned about tyrants getting into office. Madison in particular wrote about the passions of the majority and how they could be captured by an ambition leader who would lead them to support unjust and oppressive measures.

    The instances you cite, if true, could also be viewed as threats to democracy. Instead they are examples of a different real threat to democracy. The tribal demonetization of the opposition by the right wing media.

    Holder refusing to go after Black panthers at poll sites holding baseball bats

    There were two people from the New Black Panther party serving as poll watchers at one polling place in Philadelphia. Only one was armed with a billy club. That person was prosecuted and found guilty because he didn’t show up for trial. That person was also kicked out of the New Black Panther party because they don’t condone intimidation. The only “sin” of the other person was that he is a large black man. There was an internal Justice Department investigation into the matter. According to the Wash Post

    The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has concluded an investigation finding that politics played no role in the handling of the New Black Panther Party case, which sparked a racially charged political fight.

    IRS agents taking the fifth and nothing further being investigated

    Also a good example of right wing media bias and conservative Republican grandstanding. Contrary to your claim, there was an investigation here too. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General found that the IRS use the same process to identify applications from liberal groups seeking non-profit status as they did conservative groups. In other words, no bias. Here’s the Wash Post summary.

    The new finding suggests Republicans and the media provided an incomplete or even misleading account of what the IRS was up to when it was reviewing political organizations that sought tax-exempt status.

    And you are still repeating it.

    An attorney general on the tarmac with the former president’s wife who happened to be maybe under investigation…

    This one is wrong too. The Attorney General did not meet with “with the former president’s wife who happened to be maybe under investigation…”. Bill Clinton, who was not under investigation, dropped in uninvited to the AG’s plane when they were both parked near each other in Arizona. The person who was under investigation was candidate Hillary Clinton. There has been no proof that any sort of “deal” was discussed, but because of the optics of that meeting Lynch said she would accept whatever conclusion the FBI came up with. Comey testified that the meeting caused him to decide to announce the results of the investigation himself rather than check with Lynch first. This would also eliminate any possibility that the AG could be perceived as influencing the outcome. As far as the outcome, we know the rest.

    There is no point responding to your post which I can hear every night on Rachel Maddie’s show on MSNBC

    I don’t watch Rachel Maddow nor do I read anything that she writes. Perhaps she read the same book I did. That doesn’t make the conclusions in the book any less valid.

    You simply couldn’t let you last post on gun control stand for a week on its own which I agreed with 100%.

    I’m glad you liked my post. I liked it too. But just as a reminder, I don’t write to please you. I write to please myself.

    Hope you’re well.

    Thanks, yes all is well. I trust that the same is true for you.

  3. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    I am only counter punching. You are exhibiting the very same tribalism you are deriding republicans for. It goes both ways. They are both corrupt. I’m rooting for you to see this and write from a “Christian” point of view decrying spiritual wickedness as it is. Not from a liberal point of view. It would be so much more fun!!!!

    Alas, hope springs eternal.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I am only counter punching. You are exhibiting the very same tribalism you are deriding republicans for. It goes both ways. They are both corrupt. I’m rooting for you to see this and write from a “Christian” point of view decrying spiritual wickedness as it is. Not from a liberal point of view. It would be so much more fun!!!!

    Your comment is the problem. It suggests a false equivalence. It does not go both ways. Obama was not an authoritarian. Trump is.

    Both parties have issues. But only one party has chosen to align themselves with authoritarianism. I’m working on a post to that very effect. Here’s the gist. The simple summary of the Republican position heading into the 2018 midterms is that Trump is our president and as long as there is a Republican majority, he will not be rebuked or constrained.

    The Republicans understand that Trump is going to be the main issue in 2018, so rather than discuss things like legislative support to protect the Mueller investigation, they have decided that they are going to double down with the Republican base and defend the Trump presidency IN ITS ENTIRETY. This will further divide the country and embolden Trump. If Republicans lose the House, as it looks like they might, how will Trump respond? I suspect that he will become even more authoritarian. It will also require those Republicans elected in 2018 on a promise to defend Trump to dig in even deeper in the terrible bargain that they have made.

    The ONLY Democratic administration that even came close to what Trump is doing in the White House right now was FDR. Even though FDR was HUGELY popular and he was dealing with the Depression and WWII, his own party opposed his attempts to pack the Supreme Court and seek a third term.

    Trump is historically UNPOPULAR. But still has strong support of a minority of voters including those who support his attacks on the basic tenets of our democracy. And that’s the problem. If ALL attempts to either constrain or hold Trump accountable for his actions are characterized as partisan by the right wing media AND elected Republicans, we’ve got a problem. That’s because those same groups will support ALL actions by Trump to defend himself and justify that defense on the basis of POLITICS rather than the greater good. If he fires the special prosecutor, Republicans and right-wing media will say that the special prosecutor was biased and overstepped the boundaries of his charter. If Trump used the military to suppress demonstrations, Republicans and right-wing media will say that the protesters were breaking the law and local law enforcement couldn’t be trust to take action. If Trump refuses to abide by court orders limiting his actions, Republicans and right-wing media will say that the courts are biased. If Trump uses the FBI and the IRS to attack those opposing him, Republicans and right-wing media will say that they had it coming. If Trump limits the ability of the press to hold him accountable, Republicans and right-wing media will say that the media is biased against him and should be punished for “fake news”.

    No other President since Lincoln has indicted an interest in using the immense power we invest in the Presidency to unilaterally implement their agenda. Lincoln was dealing with the Civil war and serious questions of how to govern when half of the voters and their representatives are in active rebellion. Trump doesn’t have an excuse, though he could still invent one by invading NK.

    This is NOT partisan politics. This is a dangerous man in the White House, a Republican party unwilling to put any meaningful limits on his power, and a craven cynical right-wing media happy to serve as Trump’s propaganda agency.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Just to refine this point a little bit more.

    Authoritarianism is a UNIQUE and SPECIFIC threat to democracies. The reason it is a threat is past history. There is a LONG list of examples around the world were authoritarians were legally elected to lead stable democracies and then systematically dismantled those democracies. The REASON why authoritarians can dismantle democracies is because it is possible to convince a majority of voters to give up their freedoms in return for promises of security or economic gain. They chip away at democratic institutions, consolidate power, and then declare that they are not leaving.

    Examples include President Erdogan in Turkey who has been in power 10 years, Chavez in Venezuela, and even how Mussolini and Hitler came to power.

    Duarte in the Philippines is just starting that process. He has justified a murderous campaign against drug dealers in an effort to reduce drug addiction. Is it a coincidence that Trump’s drug plan seeks the death penalty for drug dealers?

    I’ve often wondered how people like Hitler and Stalin came to power. I’m not suggesting that Trump is equivalent to Hitler or Stalin, but the way you prevent people from gaining that amount of power is to oppose them early on before they are able to begin dismantling that laws and rules that limit their power. That’s the point we are at right now the Trump. Which side of history do you want to be on?

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, add the stock market to the list of financial experts unhappy with Trump’s threatened trade war with China.

    “Trade tariffs are starting to emerge as a bigger market head wind than originally thought,” said Ivan Feinseth, director of research at Tigress Financial Partners. “The strong U.S. and global economic and fiscal policy tail winds are starting to be overtaken by the proposed tariffs, the Fed’s softer-than-expected economic outlook for 2018 and the fallout from the Facebook issue.”

    The only nonpartisan issue that Republicans have to run on is the good economy. Trump’s reckless behavior is threatening that too.

  7. Keith says:

    Trump signs spending bill, blasts Congress – CNN Politics

    I would have veto’d You?

  8. Keith says:

    You are overly concerned with Trump. He is evil embodied to you. I share no such concerns. We the people are not that stupid though I have met some who were there in Germany when Hitler came to power.

    The verse “evil flurrishs when good men do nothing” certainly comes to mind and I am mindful that ANYTHING could happen.

    I also know he see injustice at what China has been able to do to us economically, yet no one else acted. Our trade deals with others have become too lopsided. The CEO who ran Dow Chemical wrote a very good book on this.
    I would prefer Trump not be our president. I hope Melinina is able to talk him out of a second term. I would hope Nikki Harley would be our candidate. And unsurprisingly to you, I remain it’s because of Hillary. Never Hillary ever ever ever. That’s why trump won. Did you hear her comments in India?

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Trump signs spending bill, blasts Congress – CNN Politics

    I would have veto’d You?

    Too simple a question.

    The issue isn’t that we are spending money. The issue is that we are spending money at the same time as we are reducing taxes.

    This is a time when we should be RAISING taxes and making long-term investments in strengthening our economy (infrastructure, job training, making college less expensive, making healthcare less expensive, making child care less expensive, greener energy, etc.)

  10. Jeff Beamsley says:

    You are overly concerned with Trump. He is evil embodied to you. I share no such concerns. We the people are not that stupid though I have met some who were there in Germany when Hitler came to power.

    The verse “evil flurrishs when good men do nothing” certainly comes to mind and I am mindful that ANYTHING could happen.

    I didn’t say that Trump was evil.

    I have said he is a narcissist and a bully. He has no interest in the greater good. His only interest is in what makes him look good.
    Part of his looking good is making other people look bad. As a result, I believe he is dangerous.

    That’s because he doesn’t respect our democratic institutions. He revels in breaking the rules because it makes him feel powerful. The problem is that in his wake, he is empowering the authoritarians who DO want to dismantle democracy. Those are the white nationalists, the neo-Nazi’s, and the garden variety nativists who are terrified of what is going to happen to our country when white people are no longer the majority.

    I also know he see injustice at what China has been able to do to us economically, yet no one else acted. Our trade deals with others have become too lopsided. The CEO who ran Dow Chemical wrote a very good book on this.

    Too simplistic a view. Much of the stuff we buy is the result of US manufacturers outsourcing assembly to China. We export raw materials and import finished goods. The manufacturers are making a profit here, but it isn’t producing jobs. But it is helping the economy grow and right now jobs aren’t the problem. Unfilled jobs are the problem.

    We are also importing stuff that isn’t being made here because, in part, the Chinese have chosen to invest in particular industries (e.g. steel and solar panels). Those investments allow China to produce those goods at much lower costs and higher quality than us. Think about when we had a huge trade deficit with Japan because they were making much better and cheaper cars than we were. Detroit finally figured out how to catch up using automation and now may leapfrog Japan into the new EV market. But during the time that the Japanese were making better cars, the dealers and mechanics here were making money selling and maintaining those cars. Now we have comparable quality and lower manufacturing costs because we understand how to use automation.

    The trade deficit is as much an issue of our economy growing as it is unfair trade practices.

    Economists said the growing trade deficit stemmed largely from the strength of the United States economy, which helped American consumers afford more imported electronics, clothes and appliances.

    and

    “The problem is that even if China were to provide greater access to its markets today, if the U.S. economy were to do well, and China were to slow down, the deficit might actually increase,” Mr. Prasad said. “It would certainly be problematic to view the size of that deficit as an indicator of whether trade is fair.”

    China has manipulated their currency in the past, but that doesn’t appear to be the case now.

    The reality is that we should be focused on expanding our markets and creating GREATER co-dependencies between the economic powers of the world. That will lead to MORE trade and MORE peace. China purchased our bonds not because they wanted to have political leverage, but because they were a good deal. When they became less of a good deal, they stopped. Same with Japan. By purchasing our bonds, both China and Japan allowed our interest rates to remain low during a period of time when we were trying to rebuild our economy. The low interest rates worked, housing recovered, and everybody made money (though some made a lot more money than others).

    I would prefer Trump not be our president. I hope Melinina is able to talk him out of a second term.

    I don’t believe Melania has any influence on Trump. She is just another in his long line of trophies. When she is no longer attractive enough to flatter him, he will dump her.

    I would hope Nikki Harley would be our candidate. And unsurprisingly to you, I remain it’s because of Hillary. Never Hillary ever ever ever. That’s why trump won. Did you hear her comments in India?

    1. Trump lost the popular vote.
    2. He won the electoral vote because of roughly 70,000 voters in three states (PA, MI, and WI). Studies since suggest that racial resentment was one of the major motivations for those mostly white male blue-collar voters to choose Trump.
    3. We all agree that Clinton ran a deeply flawed campaign, but she also faced fierce headwinds because of the country’s desire for a change. She also failed to mobilize the large African American voting populations in the three key states that she lost. That was in part as a result of her belief that she could expand the electoral map by focusing on traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona and Iowa. By the time they realized that they were in trouble in Michigan, Wisconsin, and PA they had run out of time. But that will be for historians and political scientists to sort out. She Lost.

    As far as her comments as a private citizen, I’m not interested. She could use the “n” word and it wouldn’t matter. She will never hold elected office again. Nothing that she can ever say will rise to the level of what we have endured for the the last two years of Trump. If Trump survives to run again in 2020, he is welcome to try to run against Hillary again, but she won’t be on the ballot.

  11. Keith says:

    YS)he is empowering the authoritarians who DO want to dismantle democracy. Those are the white nationalists, the neo-Nazi’s, and the garden variety nativists who are terrified of what is going to happen to our country when white people are no longer the majority.

    MR) My good friend – you are seeing ghosts.

  12. Jeff Beamsley says:

    YS)he is empowering the authoritarians who DO want to dismantle democracy. Those are the white nationalists, the neo-Nazi’s, and the garden variety nativists who are terrified of what is going to happen to our country when white people are no longer the majority.

    MR) My good friend – you are seeing ghosts.

    That’s a strange response.

    Surely you are not contesting the fact that extremist right wing groups have been growing at an alarming rate over the last 9 years. Also right wing groups in this country account for twice as many terrorist incidents in this country as Islamic groups.

    So I’m curious what ghost you are talking about?

    Perhaps the claim that they want to dismantle democracy?

    From an article in the Atlantic

    Modern white-supremacist ideology is founded on the belief that white people are on the verge of extinction, thanks to a “rising tide” of non-white populations (supposedly controlled by a Jewish conspiracy). As a result, some white supremacists and other racists justify their actions as attempts to “save” their race. When they say the white race is being threatened with “genocide” or “extinction,” it becomes easier for them to justify or rationalize violence in the name of “preserving” the race.

    They want a white ethno-state where only white people can vote. They also advocate genocide and ethnic cleansing to reach that pure state.

    Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center

    “All civil rights for nonwhites would be removed,” she said. “All political power would be in the hands of white people, in particular white men because this movement is an extremely male and, many would say, toxically masculine movement.

    Or maybe you’re saying that Trump isn’t responsible for this growth. Here’s another article from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    The reaction to Trump’s victory by the radical right was ecstatic. “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor,” wrote Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website. “Make no mistake about it: we did this. If it were not for us, it wouldn’t have been possible.” Jared Taylor, a white nationalist who edits a racist journal, said that “overwhelmingly white Americans” had shown they were not “obedient zombies” by choosing to vote “for America as a distinct nation with a distinct people who deserve a government devoted to that people.”

  13. Keith says:

    Yes ghosts. This isn’t real Jeff.Are there nuts? Yes. What’s larger is size? Those white nationalist or those who attend Farrakhan events. If Condi Rice were to run for President, in my opinio, White makes would flock to the polls

    I’m not certain if you noticed but white Americans voted for a black president. I share NO such fears as you. None. I have know idea whom you’re talking about.

  14. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Yes ghosts. This isn’t real Jeff.Are there nuts? Yes. What’s larger is size? Those white nationalist or those who attend Farrakhan events. If Condi Rice were to run for President, in my opinio, White makes would flock to the polls

    I’m not certain if you noticed but white Americans voted for a black president. I share NO such fears as you. None. I have know idea whom you’re talking about.

    You may have noticed by now, I’m not a particularly fearful person. I’m an optimist and I have faith in the power of democracy. My concern is based on a couple of fairly obvious facts.

    1. We have someone in the White House who doesn’t trust democracy. That’s a problem.
    2. He ran a “strong man” campaign telling his supporters that he was the only guy willing to “fix” all that was wrong with our government. He attacked all of institutions that our democracy is built on – elections, the two party system, free speech, free press, an impartial judiciary, the constitution, common good, diversity, pluralism, public education, and the peaceful transition of power. That is a huge dog whistle for those who want to dismantle democracy and remake this country into something else – a theocracy or an ethnically pure state.

    Just took 70K voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and PA to elect Trump.

    Exit polling indicates that the four most reliable indicators of people MOST likely to vote for Trump were in order.

    1. Party affiliation
    2. Race
    3. Islamaphobia
    4. Christian nationalism

    There are a bunch of polls that indicate that those who approve of the Klan, White Supremacists, and Neo-Nazi’s are more likely to be Trump supporters by around 4 to 1 compared to the general public. What the polls say is that the most likely predictor of overt racism isn’t being white, conservative, or Republican. It’s supporting Trump. As a result, though overt racism is a small part of the overall population, the Trump racist constituency is significant.

    The Wash Post did a study of racial resentment which I think is closer to the mark. This is the sense that minorities are somehow cutting in line in the larger sense of economic or social benefits. The percentage of those who feel that minorities are getting more than they deserve, or would be less needy if they just worked harder has been fairly constant. What has happened is that the Republican Party has been quite successful associating racial resentment with particular policy positions. From Willie Horton, to welfare policy, to affirmative action, to healthcare, to crime, to voter fraud, to NFL player protests – Republican policy have turned each of these into racial issues. As a result, the study concluded that 41% of the white millennials who voted for Trump did so because of racial resentment driving economic anxiety. These were by and large young people who were employed at more or less the national rate being paid more or less the national average. But they were concerned that minorities and immigrants would affect their ability to find work and increase their pay. There is NO DATA suggesting that their economic future is at risk. In fact, the data suggests that we need MORE people in the workforce rather than less and that lack of workers is what will eventually cause the next recession.

    This is telling because as a group, millenials voted 55% for Clinton and 37% for Trump. But 41% of those 37% voted for Trump because they were afraid of what might happen to their economic future if liberal politicies supporting minorities and immigrants continued. What Trump was promising was to make it more DIFFICULT for minorities and immigrants to vote. That’s why this message is dangerous.

    If you have data supporting your position, please post it. Otherwise, you currently have no standing other than your own belief to support your current position. While I’m sure you find your belief comforting, it does not reflect reality. In fact, it is really just a red herring. The issue isn’t whether or not a black person can be elected President. We’ve already proven that that can happen. The issue is whether Trump is a dangerous person BECAUSE he appeals to authoritarians who are interested in dismanteling our democracy.

    Here’s just another little tidbit for you to chew on regarding authoritarianism. You’ve said that it is too small a percentage of the voting population to care about.

    The Wash Post posted an article from two college professors who conducted a poll on this subject.

    They found that more than half of the Republican polled would support CANCELING the 2020 elections if Trump and Congress said it was necessary in order to prevent voter fraud.

    THERE HAS BEEN NO VOTER FRAUD of the scale that Trump claimed. But his claim ALONE was sufficient to convince a SIGNIFICANT number of voters to GIVE UP their vote in the 2020 election.

    I repeat AGAIN, THIS IS DANGEROUS TERRITORY.

    While canceling the 2020 elections sounds outlandish, consider for moment how Republicans used the 2010 elections to gerrymander themselves into a Republican majority in the House. The courts have found pretty consistently that what the Republican did was unconstitutional because it discounted the minority vote. The courts have also been striking down Republican efforts to suppress minority votes by making it more difficult to register. So they already have proven that they have no problem dismantling the one-man-one-vote promise of our constitution.

    So now you are asking me to trust these same Republicans who are planning to double down on their support of Trump in the 2018 elections? They have already proven that they only care about their majority and if suspending the 2020 elections is the best way for them to stay in office, I don’t doubt that most of them would be all in.

    This is how democracies die.

  15. Keith says:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-anti-sanctuary-movement-in-oc-20180327-story.html

    On way Democracies/countries might die is when groups choose which laws to follow and which to not follow.

  16. Jeff Beamsley says:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-anti-sanctuary-movement-in-oc-20180327-story.html

    On way Democracies/countries might die is when groups choose which laws to follow and which to not follow.

    Nothing of the sort.

    These people are voting on how they would like their local or county government to address a particular issue. This is the heart and soul of democracy.

    You commented on this issue in the past regarding the federal government’s right to impose a rule on states based on funding. The case you were citing was concerning Obamacare.

    This is NO different.

    The federal government wants local law enforcement to help them enforce a particular immigration policy. Specifically they want cities to agree to notify ICE when they have someone in custody whom they suspect may be an illegal alien. Some cities have said that it isn’t their job to enforce immigration policies. Some cities are taking that position because of politics. Some are taking that position because the federal government often leaves these suspects in the city jails rather than picking them up and doesn’t compensate cities for that cost. The Trump administration has been threatening to withhold federal funds from cities who refuse to cooperate. So far the courts have said that they can’t do that.

    A LOT of democracy at work here.

    BTW, this is no different that states like Colorado ignoring federal rules regarding marijuana. It’s a big industry in Colorado but it is still illegal at the federal level. Colorado is claiming that they have the right to determine how to enforce laws governing the use of this particular product. Eventually either the courts are going to sort this out, or legislation will pass at a federal level changing the rules.

    Where sanctuary cities could be an issue of authoritarianism is if the Trump administration said they were going to ignore court orders to continue to fund those cities who refuse to cooperate.

    Ultimately we depend on the courts to decide how the laws apply to everyone. Trump’s position is that the courts are baised. That’s the problem.

    BTW we do have some history here too. In 1957, Eisenhower ended up using a combination of federal troops and the Arkansas National Guard under federal control to protect the African American students who had enrolled in Little Rock High School as a result of the Brown V. Topeka Board of Education ruling. In this case, the governor of Arkansas had promised Eisenhower that he would use the Arkansas National Guard to protect the students and enforce order. When he withdrew the guard rather than have them enforce the court order to desegregate the high school, there was a very real possibility that some of those students could be injured or killed. The mayor of Little Rock called Eisenhower for help. It was that request that provided Eisenhower a legal opportunity to take control. BTW, Linda Brown, the young black woman who was the plaintiff in the case, just recently passed on.

  17. Jeff Beamsley says:

    More “ghosts”.

    Chris Wylie has claimed that Cambridge Analytica broke the law in during the 2016 campaign. Cambridge Analytica provided targeted voter data to the Trump campaign and is also owned by Mercer family. The Mercer family was a major supporter of both the Trump campaign, Bannon, and Breitbart.

    The data that the used was misappropriated from 50M facebook users.

    Here’s the summary from NPR.

    Wylie portrayed Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, as totally without qualms about breaking laws and undermining democracies around the world.

    How did Trump know how to target authoritarians and those with racial resentment and flip states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and PA?

    It is possible that we’ll also find out that either Cambridge or the Trump campaign had access to Clinton’s campaign plans as a result of all of the hacking that the Russians did. If the hacking allowed Cambridge to develop better profiles on who to target in what states in order to swing this election, what do you think we should do?

  18. Keith says:

    And what information did Obama have access to when his “ground game” was hailed as ground breaking? What information did Hillary have? Jeff, wake up!!!!!

    Trump must have targeted the tens of thousands of Wayne county voters telling them not to vote as they had for President Obama. Jeff come on.

  19. Jeff Beamsley says:

    And what information did Obama have access to when his “ground game” was hailed as ground breaking? What information did Hillary have? Jeff, wake up!!!!!

    As far as I know, nobody has suggested that Obama misused information from Facebook. Also haven’t heard that the Clinton campaign misused that information either.

    Also, if memory serves, only the Clinton campaign got hacked. Russians were only working against Clinton.

    NO ONE is stepping forward from either the Obama campaign or the Clinton campaign to suggest that either of those campaigns were breaking the law.

    Please stop this suggestion that “everybody is doing it”. Everybody WAS NOT working with Cambridge Analytica. Everyone WAS NOT working with the Russians. Those that WERE need to be held accountable if it turns out that they broke the law. Please tell me why this is so difficult of you to grasp?

    Trump must have targeted the tens of thousands of Wayne county voters telling them not to vote as they had for President Obama. Jeff come on.

    The issue isn’t whether Trump was able to use social media to get their message out. The issue is did they knowingly misuse personal data that they received from Facebook in order to target voters. If they did, they broke the law and should be held accountable.

    Also the issue isn’t whether or not Trump was able to develop opposition research against Clinton. I’m sure they did. But if they got some of that research from Russian hacks, then they broke the law and should be held accountable.

    If the Trump campaign DID break the law, what do you think should be done?

  20. Jeff Beamsley says:

    http://m.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/videos/2018_03/the_rasmussen_minute_friends_of_farrakhan

    I don’t know what to do with this.

    This is a picture from 2005.

    So you tell me. Which is of greater concern. A picture of the Senator Obama in the company of Louis Farrahkan – an antisemite? Or a picture of Donald Trump with Stormy Daniels from 2006?

    Obama has never denied that he knew Farrakan. He also has never advocated any policies that are supported by Farrakan. Farrakhan was very unhappy with Obama’s position on marriage equality, for example. Also Obama rejected Farrakhan’s racism and antisemticism.

    “I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.”

    Now let’s trace the arc of the Stormy Daniels story. Trump denies that he had a relationship with her, yet she has pictures, witnesses, texts, phone calls, an NDA, and a payment for $130K from Trump’s lawyer to keep her story out of the 2016 election.

    Conservatives want to condemn Obama for being in the same room with Farrakhan in 2005 and suggest some sort of conspiracy around this photo is coming out just now. But they ignore all of the women who claim that they were sleeping with Trump while his wife was home with their child even though Trump’s lawyer or his friends at the National Enquirer admit to suppressing these stories.

    Please tell me what the facination is with Obama and Clinton at this point in time? Neither are ever going to hold public office again.

    All that I can figure is that it is the right wing propaganda machine trying to distract their viewers from the true stories that are playing outside the right wing bubble.

    Here’s and article with just one example of how that works.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/03/27/the-most-important-woman-in-the-news-recently-hillary-clinton-at-least-at-fox/

    BTW, remember our discussion of how the Rasmussen poll is biased toward Republicans. This is just more evidence.

Leave a Reply