August 15, 2020

On the Edge of Authoritarianism

When I started keeping this Journal of the year of COVID I didn't want it to be a political blog per se. I was very resistant to slipping into a political discussion. The main reason for that reluctance was because today politics means Trump. Trump dominates the news, all the time, every day. I like many others have Trump fatigue. I just prefer not to raise the subject most of the time because what can be said at this point?

Way back before the election of 2016 Trump had already committed enough offenses to be scandalized off the public stage forever. It was hard to imagine how he could get worse than being caught bragging about "grab 'em by the pussy," or mocking a reporter with a disability, or boasting that he could shoot someone and not lose any support. If his supporters were not swayed by any of that stuff, and countless other vulgar offenses, what could possibly sway them?

Now we are nearing the end of the fourth year of the Trump presidency and somehow Trump has kept himself in center stage the entire four years, virtually dominating the headlines every single day, and somehow he manages to continue to get worse, to present new realities that continue to shatter everything we thought we knew or believed at one time.

But it is practically impossible not to talk about politics in this time when we not only have a massive catastrophe of more than 165,000 Americans dead from a pandemic that Trump still refuses to offer a plan to deal with or to take any responsibility for. We're in a massive economic cataclysm. And on top of all that we now have Trump essentially dismantling the U.S. Post Office and openly telling us it's because he wants to stop mail-in voting (even though he does it himself).

The USA without a functioning postal service. Even though that is mandated in the Constitution, the Repubicans want to privatize it so one of their cohorts can use it as a cash cow. That's how Putin made his oligarch friends rich in Russia.

Dismantling the post office also turns out to be another tool for voter suppression, among all the tools they are already applying to insure a continuation of their minority rule.

Trump came right out and said he was cutting off funds to the post office so that it could not handle mail-in voting. Rachel Maddow made an interesting point the other night. In authoritarian countries, the dictator openly rigs the elections because it's a show of his power. In America when elections are rigged it's undercover and they always like to maintain the pretense that they won the popular vote fair and square.

But Trump breaks this pattern because he's a dictator with authoritarian ambitions and is now openly defying anything at all that would stop him. Like dictators he admires, he is now openly admitting that he's trying to suppress the vote. What does he have to lose? They failed to remove him from office. He believes the Second Amendment gives him the power to do "anything I want."

Though it would seem to be barely possible, Donald Trump continues to get worse: more destructive, more uncontrolled and more criminal.

Now it is openly discussed even in mainstream media that Donald Trump, as Michael Cohen said when he testified in Congress, does not plan to give up the White House and will not leave peacefully even if the voters manage to overcome the suppression and vote against him.

Michael Cohen, by the way, has reiterated his claim that Trump will not leave office peacefully in his book Disloyal, A Memoir, which will be released soon.

Cohen also said that Trump did indeed collude with Russians in their attempt to get him elected. And Trump admits that he's had several conversations with Putin in the last few months. I'm sure his Russian patron has given him some good ideas and techniques for autocrats.

We now have to really be concerned about a takeover of the country by an authoritarian regime composed of Trump allies from Putin to the Koch organization. We really don't know what they will spring on us next. But it's clear that they are lethal and will stop at virtually nothing to hold and increase their power.

So this is life during COVID. We have a reality show host who is deconstructing the country and wreaking havoc in his efforts to hold onto power. He has a wily and lethal ally in Putin, and plenty of other frigntening political forces in the U.S.

We are in some very perilous times, my friends.

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