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.