Trump tried to use the fear of the immigrant caravan to sway midterm voters, but it failed as the Democrats won the majority in the house. I think most voters fear demagoguery over immigration. Demagogues try to undermine democratic elections to steal the rights of the people and in this last election the majority of people voted for democracy over demagoguery. Some may not know what demagoguery really looks like, but know that it feels wrong.
Luckily, Robert Reich has compiled five tactics that have been used throughout history to undermine democratic elections. They are as follows.
- Campaign on fear and division, making scapegoats of minorities and immigrants.
- Make elections into a referendum on themselves, placing their regimes above democratic ideals.
- Encourage voter suppression. Create obstacles that make it harder to vote.
- Threaten to jail political opponents. Use threats of imprisonment to discourage their opposition during the campaign.
- Dispute election results, citing election fraud without evidence. Interfere with vote tallies to ensure their loyalists are elected.
Trump’s campaign started with “Mexicans are murders and rapists” and continued with rants of “look her up” and declarations of a “rigged system,” while, at the same time, some Republican sycophants gerrymander districts, removed minorities from voter rosters and closed numerous polling stations to reduce Democratic votes. And, Trump saw the midterms as a measures of his own popularity or unpopularity. Trump didn’t just use some of these tactics, he used them ALL.
The only protection from an American demagogue is a strong system of checks and balances. The three branches of the government are CO-EQUAL (that’s right, Mr. Trump, CO-EQUAL). Now that the legislative branch is more balanced, it will stand up to the undemocratic actions of Trump and as evidenced this week, the Judicial branch is ruling in favor of upholding the Constitution when Trump fails to keep his oath of office.
Hopefully our system of checks and balances can get our democracy through this time of trials as it is threatened by a homegrown tyrant. Many overlook these tactics and somehow see them as a strength, but our democracy is not sustained by the whims of a single person. We must clearly see these tactics for what they are (tools of a demagogue) and protect our rights, as we are a democracy of government by the people for the people, all the people.
A hopeful moment in politics… I hope it continues!
The Arizona United States Senate race between candidates Martha McSally (R) and Krysten Sinema (D) has given me hope that tribalism may not be our only future. McSally’s congratulatory concession video demonstrated how to lose with honor and respect. This video can be viewed at realclearpolitics.com and it is titled Republican McSally Concedes Arizona Senate Race to Democratic Winner Kyrsten Sinema.
Krysten Sinema spoke of finding common ground in her victory speech and gave a tribute to Republican Senator John McCain. This video can be viewed at cnn.com and is titled Sinema gives tribute to McCain in victory speech.
These candidates provided an outstanding example of how to run a civilized campaign and what to do when the results come in. Decency trumped party. Decency and respect need not be sacrificed. There can be decency in differences.
Can we recover from the devolution of our ideal that”… all are created equal?” I witnessed a social evolution in my life time in which we began to live up to this ideal by granting civil rights to all. This occurred because we evolved as a people and righted a wrong. Now I see this progress waining as racism is used to demean and attack fellow Americans.
Some people are blaming minorities and immigrants for their economic decline, but this blame is misplaced. Our economic system has been manipulated to favor stockholders and to strip stakeholders of their fair share. Stakeholders are the workers that give their lives to benefit the company while stockholders just invest money. Investment is risky, but workers only have one life to give and should be rewarded with a livable wage. The investment class would like you to believe that we have a “free market” economy and that the invisible hand of the market has caused wages to stagnate or go down, but that is not true. The economy is legislated and regulated to favor big donors.
Legislators are to blame along with those who do not exercise their right to vote, not minorities and immigrants. So thanks to those who voted. And, I want to encourage the hundred million eligible voters who don’t vote to do so! Stakeholders far out number stockholders! If we vote together, we can create a fair economy that provides opportunities for all.
Last week I looked at the scientific and psychological reasons for the differences between Trump supporters and Trump detractors. This research provided no ideas for finding common ground nor greater understanding for overcoming our differences. I am left with the mystery of why some people love the flavor of cilantro and some think it tastes like an un-food such as soap. Research suggests that these totally opposite reactions are due to chemical differences in our DNA. I am one of the 4-14% of people who taste soap when they eat cilantro and I know that no matter how many people tell me how good it tastes or how emphatically they insist, I am not going to like the taste of cilantro. So is liking or disliking Trump in our DNA? I don’t know.
My distaste for Trump begins with the constant, documented, lies (over 3,000 since taking office). It continues with his lack of knowledge of history, the Constitution and the principles of democracy; his lack of respect for the office of the presidency, norms, process and procedures; his lack of respect for women, minorities and people with disabilities; his lack of empathy; his rampant self-centeredness; his disrespect for American allies; and his kowtowing to ruthless autocrats who kill their opponents. It ends in the fear of his impulsivity and his Twitter feed. This is like being strapped in to the back seat of the car with a four-year at the wheel.
His focus is not on serving the people, but only on preserving his power. And it seems that he is willing to do anything to keep it. He admitted that even though he doesn’t really believe that the press is the enemy of the people, he says it just to jin up his base. What is really scary is that he can not see the potential deadly consequences of his words. He denies any responsibility for the white nationalists who sent pipe bombs to his liberal critics and the slaughtering of 11 Jewish worshippers as they were gathered in their sanctuary. He cannot see that his senseless rhetoric is emboldening demented racists. My distaste for cilantro hurts no one, but a lack of distaste for the actions or lack actions of this president can hurt us all and permanently destroy our democracy.