Know Your Dictators 2

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at the EU summit in Brussels

Hungary

Viktor Orbán

These are notes taken from Paul Lendval writing in The Atlantic.

Timeline

1989

Orbán was a young man, unshaven with long hair (26 years old)

Fidesz – He was a member of this youth group. He gave a 6 ½ minute speech calling for free elections and withdrawal of soviet troops.

Instant fame.

1992

By the age of 30 he was in control of Fidesz

1994

Moved his party (Fidesz) to the right

1998

Fidesz won the election and Orbán became the youngest PM in the history of Hungary.

1998-2002

Prime Minister of Hungary

2010 – present

Prime Minister again and expected to win on April 8th(Lendval’s article was written on April 7th, the day before the election. Orbán won the election.

Ideology

Orbán began as a liberal, a “fiery left-wing atheist”. He was very poor as a child. He worked with the Soros Foundation and even took his family to Oxford under Soros Foundation sponsorship but he returned to Hungary after only 4 months in England.

Now Orbán is a right-wing populist leader.

Ethnic Nationalism and Deep-rooted Corruption mark his rule in Hungary, a return to past practice.

Orbán is busy now “concentrating power, eliminating constitutional safeguards, reshaping the state in his image (?), and posing a potential threat to even the future of the EU.”

Orbán is now a multimillionaire.

He wants Hungary to be a Christian nation (true, but also a message to the people of Hungary about how he will treat the issue of migrants and refugees from Syria who are usually not Christians)

He calls his own brand of government “illiberal democracy”.

Fidesz explores the “national question” – there is still much “bitterness” about the unnatural divisions of the people of Hungary caused by a post WW I treaty. Many nurse feelings of “national humiliation”.

Orbán runs on “faith in the homeland and Christian values” (know your peeps)

Policy

Orbán has filled state power positions with loyal supporters.

He uses Immigration as a “wedge issue”, with the migrant and refugee crisis at its highest point.

Orbán built a fence (wall) – a 110 mile fence on the border with Serbia and another fence on the border with Croatia. He exploits both the “victim myth” from that post WW I treaty and the “will to survive”.

“Even critics of the government’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers admitted that Orbán saw earlier than most of his EU colleagues that borders had to be controlled before a relocation plan for migrants could be agree upon.”

“[He] won back support by weaponizing the immigration issue.”

76% of the people of Hungary thought refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism.

82% believed refugees too jobs and social benefits, creating a social burden.

Implications

Orbán has been influencing other post-communist states to join a nationalistic group which so far includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

“…to quote the chairman of the European Stability Initiative think tank, Gerald Knaus, [he is] the most dangerous man in the European Union.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/viktor-Orbán-hungary/557246/

The following information is from an article in the New York Times by Patrick Kingsley on May 1, 2018.

“After Viktor Orbán’s Victory, Hungary’s Judges Start to Tumble”

Courts

A “flurry of judges began resigning in quick succession.”

“[O]ne of Mr. Orbán’s oldest friends and allies, Tunde Hando, has systematically packed the courts with loyalists in her role as chief of the judiciary for the past six years.”

Orbán is facing discipline “under a process known as the Article 7 procedure.

Censure could affect “the thinking of investors,” says Knaus.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/world/europe/hungary-viktor-Orbán-judges.html

 

 

 

Know Your Dictators

jaroslaw-kaczynski_big Super Express

This is the first in a series of articles I call, “Know Your Dictator”.

Poland

Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS – Law and Justice Party is the man making the moves in Poland.

A commenter on quora.com– Piotr Szafranski – calls him a “dictator-in-waiting”.

“Much of the difference between authoritarian and liberal democratic in the political system is based on tradition and custom, not hard law,” says Piotr.

He tells us that the PiS has been throwing out tradition and common decency whenever possible.

Civil Service

  1. They abolished the law prohibiting party membership of career civil servants and fired all the current ones (are loyalty tests next?)
  2. Thousands out of jobs
  3. Jobs will be arbitrarily (without exams) given to PiS’s own party members by way of another new law.

Media

Michal who lives in Poland tells us, “On December 14 the chancellery of the Sejm presented a proposal to change the organization of the media in the Parliament (e.g. creating a modern Media Center, a TV studio in the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish Parliament…”

Michal supports these changes, others see it as an attempt by government to control the message in the media.

https://www.quora.com/Has-Poland-become-a-dictatorship-in-2016

After Trump’s visit in July, 2017 authoritarian moves seem to have accelerated says Oskar Gorzynski in the Daily Beast.

Courts

The government decided the country’s supreme court is corrupt and needed to be purged completely.

(Funny how often this happens as countries’ leaders move towards dictatorship.)

“A bill is introduced that will force all the court’s judges to retire and be replaced – and it is pushed through with lightning speed and without regard for procedures.”

(Is Trump leading up to this?)

Back in Poland,

“the amendment, widely considered unconstitutional and yet to be signed by the president Andrzej Duda (PiS) would give the government virtually unrestrained control over the body – and therefore much of the judicial system.

On the same day “a bill was introduced that amounts to a total purge of all 83 judges in the country’s supreme court, giving Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, a virtually free rein in appointing their successors.”

[Kaczynski] had a meltdown and accused the parliament of killing his brother. Talking to the other party, the PO party, Zaczynski revealed that all those reforms are not really about reforming society or the state,” says a political scientist to the Daily Beast, “every one of PO’s (liberal Modern party) MP’s will end up in jail.” (Lock her up. – different circumstances, same refrain)

Political Prison

PiS MP Krystyna Pawlowicz says she dreams of re-instituting the old pre-war prison for political prisoners called Bereza Kartuska.

She also says that when they finish with the courts they will go after the journalists.

(It often sounds as if wanna-be dictators have a play book.)

Eliminate Constitutional Safeguards and the System of Checks and Balances

This has already been done in Poland, the Daily Beasttells us, when the PiS Party paralyzed the Constitutional Tribunal and then took it over.

“Two words describe what is happening in Poland right now: It’s a “hybrid dictatorship,” says Migalski to the Daily Beast, “We no longer deal with a liberal democracy, but it is not yet a full-fledged dictatorship like that of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey.”

Plans to Make Next Election Impossible to Lose

“Democracy differs from authoritarianism in that the rules of elections are certain, while the outcome is uncertain. In a dictatorship it is the other way around,” says a former PiS politician.

The thorn in Zaczynski’s side may end up being his colleague, President Andrzej Duda.

(Who is the thorn in Trump’s side?)

Citizen protests have been larger than expected.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-trump-set-poland-on-the-path-to-dictatorship

Karolina Wigura, writing in The Guardianin May, 2018 tells us that, “Despite fears over Law and Justice, Poland is not sliding into dictatorship.”

“Poland is not stuck in its current predicament, it is an evolving scene. It’s obvious that Law and Justice has trampled on the constitution, assaulted the independence of the judiciary, and put pressure on women in ways no other government has dared since 1989. But to draw the conclusion that Poland is inexorably sliding into a new brand of authoritarianism is wrong. It misses the nuances and the behind-the-scenes efforts to seek solutions.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/04/law-and-justice-poland-dictatorship

Even as I write this the activities in Poland concerning their possible decisions to leave the EU (or get kicked out) are sending stocks tumbling.

Delving into another country’s politics without historical context has its limitations. However, relying on the analysis of citizens and writers offers good insight.

Can We Create a Fair and Just Society?

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I think it is entirely possible that we could have a world that would run smoothly and that everyone could enjoy, a fair and just society. It would have to be a world without poverty; we would have to figure out how to be sure that everyone had enough resources to get through their lives in comfort. Everyone would have to have sufficient supplies of food and water and health care, and at reasonable cost. Housing that was adequate and hygienic and large enough to accommodate the group to be housed would need to be available. The ability to provide everyone with plentiful light, heat, and cooling would also be important in such a world. Transportation of some type would be available to all and some forms of entertainment. Waste disposal in all its forms would have been worked out and functional. Everyone would have access to as much education or training as they needed in order to find employment and jobs would be plentiful. There would be a guaranteed minimum wage for people who are unable to work or who need to take time off from work for their own needs or those of their family. People’s right’s would have to be respected.

There would be some form of instant repercussions for bullying, cheating, conning and trying to make an easy buck at the expense of others. There would also be instant repercussions for anti-social behavior detrimental to other members of the society. I believe that we are creative enough to make such a world as this and to do it in a way that governance is not overly intrusive. A society like this would have to be somewhat regimented. Given our natures that seem to value independence and even a bit of chaos more than regimentation could we live in such a culture? Switzerland has managed to do something like this. Would we all be happy living in Switzerland if the country had enough space? Is it easier to govern smaller nations than it is to govern larger nations? Is a one-world umbrella government possible and what would it look like?

While it is true that we are flawed and we often let our worst selves out into the world; we are also sublime and inspired. We love to solve problems. But we would need to solve the problems of letting our flaws rule the day because they seem more interesting than the peacefulness of getting our economies, governments, and social spheres right. Somehow we have come to believe that eliminating our bad behaviors will make for really boring lives and might even squelch creativity. Would our lives be too commonplace if there were no poverty, if everyone had enough of everything, if no one was homeless. Could this come to be recognized as simply the baseline infrastructure of a rational world?

We each have to choose moment by moment to opt out of those 7 deadly sins (Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth) and try to stay true to the 7 virtues (Humility, Charity/Generosity, Chastity, Gratitude, Temperance, Patience, Diligence). In a world that rewards innovative and creative behavior people often get confused about what is brilliant and what is criminal. Sometimes people get away with criminal behavior and then the confusion is even greater. We all know the Golden Rule, but can we design a world where people truly live it. The Golden Rule is open to interpretation. It is pretty general. People could disagree about what doing unto others means. People could have different tolerances for what they will let people do unto them. We have already seen the problems with a Constitution that was deliberately left open to interpretation. Even the Bible (and books holy to other religions) leave lots of room for various factions to claim that the same passages back up their actions. We know, however, that it would be too restrictive, controlling, and, in the end, impossible to try to make a law about every single cultural exigency.

Since everything we do tends to have two sides, the good and the bad, is it even possible, within the cosmic rules we seem to be stuck with, to choose to live in a society that provides enough for all? Or would even that state, that seems so proper, turn out to have new down sides that we have never thought of? For example, what would we do with people who get greedy, or people who abuse children, or people who exploit power for sex, or steal for income, or kill in anger, and on and on through the whole sorry roll call of human anti-social behavior. We would have to find a way to correct these behaviors that would not betray the goals of our fair and just society. Would imprisonment fit the tenor of such a world? Would we develop drugs that correct bad behaviors? Would we make a prison island to get these people out of circulation? That sort of worked in Australia, but we are fresh out of Australias. If solving the problems of society would simply produce new problems we have not imagined, then it seems futile to even bother.

people around globe big corporate wellnessmagazine

Still, I would go with the globalists – not to get rid of nations necessarily, but to set minimums for comfortable lives for everyone on the planet and to decide how to husband our resources as populations in some places explode. What is to stop those overcrowded nations from eventually looking around for places that are more sparsely populated with reasonably plentiful resources; from beginning a new era of imperialism? Will every nation be surrounded by walls and life become a police state and a life of uncertainty, of trash and garbage, both animal waste and human psychic garbage?

We could pretend that Earth is a new planet we have just found in space, the Earth B that everyone is always talking about these days. We could pretend that we are starting over to set up a plan for how we will govern the planet. We could set up such a strong planning body that everyone would stop acting like the power of certain nations, not already ruled by dictators, is up for grabs. What would we want Earth B to be like? If we don’t learn soon to actually go to space, we may have to consider our Earth Planet B and start from scratch if we hope to survive out here at the edge of space.

Or perhaps you are with the imminent apocalypse crew and we go down slugging it out, thugging it out, and letting strong men call the shots for our everyday lives. Perhaps, because of our grievous faults that is all we deserve. Memorial Day offered a good chance to imagine a world where well-trained soldiers could stand down unless we were attacked by aliens. Could we create all this?

Follow me @tremr.com and join the conversation.

 

Engineering the Apocalypse

endofdayssatan big Monster Legacy

Republicans find it difficult to believe that human activity can affect earth’s climate. They have their own reasons for this point of view, which seem to depend more on economics than science. They argue that puny humans are like fleas to forces as great as the ones that run the cosmos. (Well tell that to the sea birds who are feeding their babies plastic pellets.) But apparently, Evangelicals have more power at their command than the average human. They believe they can engineer the apocalypse.

So when Evangelicals (not all, some) try to move the pace of world events along more briskly in order to hurry along the “end times” as depicted in Revelations, they are happy to believe that certain Christian humans can speed up the pace of the universe and make the Rapture and the Millennium happen now – predetermination be damned. Suddenly puny humans are not depicted as quite so helpless.

No wonder Evangelicals are all smiles now that Trump has moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians have no role in the events leading up to the “end times”. However, Israel, according to whoever authored Revelations (of course, with divine input), has an enormous role to play in the end times. Even though Jews who refuse to convert will not survive, the establishment of a Jewish state in Jerusalem is key to the apocalypse, which follows the saving of the saved, the 2ndcoming of the Messiah, and the 1000 years of theocracy that precede the apocalypse on the “end of days” timeline.

An article in the Daily Beast examines this particular corner of the Evangelical movement. Apparently these beliefs have been held to be secrets, although Michele Bachmann used to go on about “the Rapture” with a big old stoned-looking rapturous smile on her face as her party shut down the government. Secrecy is hardly an issue, though, when the timeline of events leading up to the return of the Messiah and subsequent events are available for anyone to see in the Bible and in the 497,000 hits on this topic which result from an internet search.

According to Candida Moss, writing on 5/19/2018 in the DailyBeast this particular set/sect of Evangelicals believes that Hitler did Christians a favor when he killed the Jews in the Holocaust because the backlash against his actions gave the world the state of Israel, an important step towards the end of days. (Except, I always believed that Christians, who follow the examples of Jesus, could never be this self-absorbed.)

I remember some awe expressed in religious circles when the EU was formed – another prerequisite met on the way to the Rapture. Evangelicals are certain that they will be taken up to heaven right then and there, before mass destruction is even on the menu. There are a few pesky details about the number of nations who have to be in the EU to meet the requirements for the end of days. There is a bit of a debate about whether the number has been met. Did Brexit mess up the grand design of the Evangelicals?

These fairly extreme Evangelicals are, sadly for us, quite political because, in order to tamper with world events, they need governments to help. They apparently believe that Donald Trump will help speed up the 2ndcoming because he has promised to do just that. They have fed Donald their “party line” and he buys it. No wonder he is not worried about climate change. He may also be waiting for the Rapture.

rapture2 big King of the Net

Surely God will bring us the end times before climate change can rob God of his dramatic finale. Donald understands show business. He seems willing to help speed up the milestone events that will lead to those end days, the days that Evangelicals say will favor them above all others. This time they think they are the “chosen ones”. And they seem to have made Donald an honorary Evangelical.

However, we wonder, can Evangelicals make the end arrive faster by having humans engineer the steps on the pathway to apocalypse, or do they have to occur organically? If human activity cannot cause climate change how can human scheming hasten the end the Lord has designed? If you see Evangelicals piling on to events that seem unrelated to them, check your Bible. We’re very close apparently. This sounds like a conspiracy theory but it might be an actual, although wacky, strategy.

I don’t know about you but I have never wanted to live in a theocracy, so I am fairly certain where I will be heading come the Millennium. If these people, with their Evangelical privilege, are correct about their place in the Christian hegemony I will be more than happy to miss that spectacle.

This video explores some of the other relationships between Evangelicals and Trump:

Women, Trump, Religion, Money

 

EB Evangelicals filmstr

You may wonder why Evangelicals don’t oppose 45, whose “sins” are coming home to roost and lowering the tone of our national discourse. But you don’t have to travel too far in your thinking to understand that Trump’s misogyny is tailor-made for furthering the policies of fundamentalist Christians. Iowa just passed a law that makes it a crime to have an abortion after 6 weeks. So far no one has overturned this law which violates the intent of Roe v Wade, a law with Supreme Court clout behind it. Perhaps this is true because Trump is packing Federal courts with conservatives as quickly as Congress can confirm them.

Evangelicals and Trump seem to agree that women are the root of much of the evil in American society. When women went to work families fell apart, they claim. Many conservatives feel that the demise of the nuclear family changed the entire tenor of American society and not for the better. They blame the disruptions to the nuclear family on educating women for careers that take their focus away from preserving close families. They also blame this statistical piece of data about fewer nuclear families on women’s liberation and feminism, birth control and legal abortion. But the true roots of this story, at least for these originalists, are in the Garden of Eden. Women led men into the original sin.

Some Evangelicals tend to also be white supremacists (these days) who bemoan the lack of large white families, the dearth of women who are baby factories turning out white infants to keep America white. I don’t know if you have been reading David Brooks in the NYT’s. While I would never identify Brooks as a white supremacist, he does feel that American values and our whole national psyche suffered as families lost strength. He places a lot of the blame on technology but behind his Luddite arguments are the missing elements that supposedly gave America, once upon a time, it’s sense of community. Those missing elements are moms and religion (the role of the church in community life). When women went to work, white women stopped having babies, that is the crux of the matter for Evangelicals, for white supremacists, and perhaps, in a different way, even for David Brooks.

Beyond that there is, of course, a religious belief that abortion is wrong, that God doesn’t like it and that it is probably a mortal sin, even though mortal sin is more a Catholic thing than an evangelical thing. Many believe that if they let women abort babies they are dooming their immortal soul and will never be accepted in Paradise when they leave this life. So they dictate what others can do because they feel they must for both reasons of faith and to insure their passage into heaven.

Lately Evangelicals have decided that life is so sacred that it is wrong to use birth control. Just as some schools are moving back to preaching abstinence; women are being burdened with a message that links abortion and birth control. Evangelicals seems to be saying to women, if you don’t want babies don’t be promiscuous; if you get pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, have the baby. Most of this enormous burden of judgmental religiosity is coming from men, who are responsible for every baby ever born and for the circumstances under which they are conceived (at least most of the time). Allowing this message to have power over women’s lives sends them spiraling backwards to pre-contraception days.

Donald Trump lives deep in the old Madonna-whore complex. Wives are placed on a pedestal and treated like queens (for a while at least) and other women who like their sexuality, or who exploit their sexuality, or who are exploited for their sexuality are Donald’s whores. He may also treat them well for a while, but they are not supposed to have children by him and they are definitely not squired about for public consumption. If they did get pregnant, which could happen because his pleasure comes without protection, I assume an abortion would suddenly gain favor.

And so, not totally by surprise we find this article at salon.com

https://www.salon.com/2018/05/17/is-donald-trump-literally-selling-off-womens-human-rights-for-personal-profit/

“The slow drip-drip of revelations about exactly how deep Donald Trump was in with the Russians comes out on top of a veritable sea of corruption stories flooding out of the White House. But one scandal that’s getting less attention might end up having more dramatic impacts in the long run. It could end up drastically undermining women’s rights to get abortions, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and even to protect themselves from cancer. New evidence suggests that Trump is, in effect, selling off women’s rights to religious fundamentalists, and personally profiting from doing so.”

It is certainly true that women’s rights have moved far down on the list of media priorities. There are so many attacks on various aspects of American traditions, laws, and practices that we mostly feel like victims of whiplash. Sleaze sells better than outrage. With hush money changing hands and Stormy Daniels piquing interest or moral judgment, and lawyers dominating our news cycles women’s issues, never of great interest to anyone other than women, have fallen by the wayside. (Although, of course, the treatment of Stormy Daniels, et al, is a women’s issue.)

“It’s not unusual, especially in the era of dark money, for special interests to buy off candidates by spending lavishly on campaigns. But with the SBA List’s hotel choice and questions about the Trump-inauguration money’s final destination, there’s strong reason to worry that Trump is simply profiting directly from influence-peddling. What anti-choice activists appear to be getting in exchange is terrifying: An all-out assault on legal abortion and affordable contraception that could roll back decades of progress for women’s autonomy and reproductive health,” says Amanda Marcotte, the author of the article.

Not all women enjoy child-rearing, at least not if it is all they are allowed to do. Women tend to be born with brains as functional as those of men. When women’s brains are solely concerned with healthy baby meals and children’s literature, songs and play activities it can make a grown human woman feel brain dead. I am not saying women don’t love their children. It would be great if all of the women who thrive on child-rearing could concentrate on that pleasure. I am saying that there are women who do not find fulfillment in raising children as their sole profession. In fact there are women who become depressed if they do not have a job to do out in the world away from their family for at least part of the day. There are women who go mad if they cannot create and study and read and exercise their minds just as they exercise their bodies. Much of Freud’s oeuvrewas based on the mental states of women who were suppressed in one way or another. Limiting human endeavors can have profound effects on anyone. There is scientific data about this if only these people valued science.

What will women’s lives be like when 45 is finished with us all? Will we be under the supervision of fundamentalist religious leaders as we see in other parts of the world? We can certainly see the relevance of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and why it has returned as a popular mini-series on TV. The battle was already lost for at least 4 years when Trump was elected. We resist but we worry. Will that be enough? And 45 is being handsomely paid to help take rights away from women? That just adds insult to injury.

See new developments 5/18/2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Best and Melania Trump

 

MELANIA_TRUMP_big star tribuneMelania Trump does not seem to crave the limelight. She seems a bit timid. She seems aware that every time she pokes her nose out in public, the press, which salon.com has taken to calling “the chattering class” – truth and insult wrapped in a Trumpian-style nickname – the press will write something about her. Because she is married to Donald Trump, at odds with most of the press, what people will write will not necessarily be kind. Many question how someone married to a bully can launch a campaign against bullies. But perhaps this is actually a matter of who would be better? Melanie may not want to leave her husband, although we see that as a sort of “Stockholm syndrome”. But she was a fierce protector of her young son, Baron. She refused to live in DC until he finished his school year in NYC. She may also have had more selfish reasons for staying away in the early, most chaotic days of the new administration. After all she is most likely fully aware of what her husband is like when he is starting a new “venture”. Who knows what really goes on in a marriage. There may have been some of the renowned negotiation skill involved. Perhaps Trump is not the only member of this marriage with negotiation skills.

While it is true that Be Best can be bashed as grammatically-challenged, or as Eastern European dialect, I also think that the abruptness of the title, and its seeming lack of clarity and content may have been built-in to give programs for children who elect to use the slogan an opportunity to plump it out with pronouns of their choice. I made a very simple video to illustrate my point.

 

The press pointed out that the First Lady may have plagiarized the materials used by the Obama administration, but perhaps Melania does not share her husband’s contempt for everything Obama. Perhaps she admires Michelle Obama.

Here are links to some articles that announced, responded to, or poked fun at Melania’s Be Best initiative:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/bebest/

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-childlike-strangeness-of-melania-trumps-be-best-campaign

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a20508248/melania-trump-be-best-campaign-booklet-copied-obama/

 

Only time will tell if this campaign offers positive outcomes for America’s  children. Melania was admitted to the hospital for minor surgery shortly after her announcement. Best wishes for her quick recovery.

How Far Will Dems Go?

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Democrats knew that the 2016 election was an election we really could not afford to lose. We knew that losing would have existential repercussions for the party, the way the American future would play out, and even for American democracy itself. We let ourselves be divided and that would only have worked out fine in the old America. This is not that America. How far will Dems go to fix the balance of power in America?

We knew what the Republicans had been doing to “fix” elections, although we had no clue that Russian assistance would be enlisted. We lamented the Citizens United and related decisions that have flooded elections with corporate money and influence, and offered “creative” ways for the wealthiest Americans to have an outsize influence through PAC’s and 501(c)s, or nonprofits. We know that Conservatives want to extend this financial influence on elections to churches and that there is legislation already written to do just that.

We have watched Conservatives turn the courts (Federal and Supreme) into partisan bodies that would uphold their assault on previous court decisions. We knew about their assaults on abortion clinics, their insistence that America follow their Fundamentalist Christian rules and ban abortions by overturning Roe v Wade, and their refusal to accept that women’s bodies should be controlled by women. Stuffing courts with Conservatives would help in this regard and in many other places the Republican Party wanted to go. They played with the voting rules in the Senate, they obstructed in the House, and they refused to confirm Obama’s legal appointment to the Supreme Court when Judge Alito died an untimely death. Now they are having a field day confirming fairly young, unqualified people to as many lifetime court positions as they can, while they can, and crying foul if Democrats use the same procedures to slow down confirmations that the Republicans previously found so useful.

We have noted all the voter suppression techniques such as extreme gerrymandering that made it almost impossible to elect anyone except a Republican in some Congressional districts (enough to turn Congress red?). We were shocked when the Supremes removed the pre-clearance requirements from the Voting Rights Act which allowed states to change voter laws in ways that negatively affected minority voters more than white voters. We were incredulous when the GOP claimed that they were not being racist; they just wanted to suppress Democrat votes. (It suddenly became the fashion to drop the “-ic” from the word Democratic when using the party name as an adjective because it connected the Democrats too closely to our form of government.) (It also became fashionable to stress that our government is actually a republic as this made the Republican Party the truest representative of American governance.)

We knew all this but all we did was whine, complain, call attention to these behaviors, fight among ourselves, and appear weak. We seemed not to understand that these bad behaviors were symptoms of a party that was making a serious power play. Reactions of Dems fell far short of any effective strategy of resistance. Dems were all talk, little action through all the Obama years. We relied on Obama’s popularity and his elegant statesmanship to win the day, although we all were privy to the hateful undertones in the nation.

We heard the GOP talking points, over and over. We knew the Republicans wanted to use a “tough love” approach to end social programs – no help with food for the poor, no public healthcare, no support for the disabled, no social security for seniors, no housing for the poor, no public schools. America could not afford to have a heart, apparently. They reminded us that none of these things are functions of the federal government according to our founding documents and they insisted these programs should end. States could provide for these needs if they wished (although the right knew the states could not afford to do this). Or they could be privatized.

The GOP saw the resentment building in the workers whose factories had fled, or whose livelihoods had become obsolete because of environmental damage, and they invited them aboard the bandwagon by agreeing that taxes were being used to give aid to people who did not deserve it. Soon it became as if we had all decided to eliminate social goals from our national agenda instead of just being a decision reached within the conservative web of right-wing organizations, foundations, and think tanks centered around wealthy Republicans donors like the Kochs.

Democrats spoke out against this rather Darwinistic view of society but they seemed powerless against the aggressive strategies on the right, the loudest voices in the land at the time. Dems relied on “regular order” and a moderate stance to eventually “break the fever” on the right. Dems appeared to be almost intimidated by the Tea Party’s seemingly overwhelming power over the Republican Party. This could be partially because Democrats are lovers of grassroots politics, and also due to their failure to see the connection of the Tea Party to the white supremacy that was simmering in right wing teapots. Dems did nothing but talk, believing all this would run its course. When people pointed out that the right was mounting a kind of bloodless coup, those people were labeled as extremists.

It was becoming clear that there was a Constitutional argument being fomented. Conservatives decided that America had moved too far from our forefathers’ intentions. They wanted to go all Fundamentalist on American governance – back to the basics. On the left this was seen as unrealistic. It could be seen as an expedient argument used by Republicans to pull out the old states’ rights drumbeat that they had used so successfully (when they were the Democratic Party) to end Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War.

Giving in to this states’ rights stance allowed the racist treatment of Americans of African Descent to continue into the 1960’s (and even to this day) and allowed the defeated Confederacy to nurse their resentment, and their white supremacist attitudes – to continue to see themselves as righteous rebels. This is the rebellion that is still affecting us now. It is the true reason for the rabid defense of the NRA and the encouragement of militia movements. These Republicans/Conservatives planned either to take over the American government from within, or without (rebellion) if necessary. Right now they are doing pretty well with their “from within” set of tools.

The Democrats were not even considering a new war. We were taken somewhat by surprise. Try to find a Dem militia, but I warn you it will prove to be difficult to impossible. However, Democrats also were finding nothing in the Constitution to help them against this organized rebellion that used tactics which were not strictly against established custom and law, but which certainly challenged the spirit of American customs and laws. Democrats did not see that the Republicans could win all by simply killing the Democratic Party and turning America into a single-party government. Such an action is not against our founding documents since parties did not exist when America was born. (Although it did not take long for parties to form.)

There is so much more to the GOP strategy and we have been witnesses to all of it. For example, there was the skewing of the media until some of it was not news at all but merely propaganda, which happened right before our eyes. It was allowed because of how much we treasure everyone’s right to free speech. Perhaps we could have argued sooner that people had the right to say what they wanted to but did not have the right to pass off lies and conspiracy theories as facts or news. We did not react strongly enough in the face of this onslaught. How many governments have been overturned because some of the people in power wanted to stay the course and believed they would eventually win the day; they believed justice was on their side and would prevail?

The Democrats let the Republican Party demonize our best people. Email server unorthodoxy seems a bit tame compared to behaviors power-mad Republicans excuse now. I am guilty here also because I thought America was ready for a female President. I did not think it would be fair to eliminate a woman who had been unfairly tainted (as all powerful women are these days). I refused to see how seriously she had been damaged. Maybe Progressive promises would have been the perfect counterpart to regressive rhetoric. We might have been better off fighting fire with fire. The middle road held too little appeal and too many people bought what the Republican Party was selling. None of this should strip away the guilt of liberals who would not vote against Trump and the Republicans. Still, once the Republicans were left with Trump we may have been “royally” screwed no matter what.

How convinced are the Democrats that their policies will make a more live-able future than what Republicans have to offer? How far are we willing to go to make it so? If our hopes for a blue wave in 2018 are dashed, what’s next? If it looks like our Democracy really will become an autocracy will we resist more aggressively, or slide down into a dictatorship and live quietly underground until it dies, as all dictatorships eventually do? These are terrible decisions to be faced with and yet they may have to be made with no formal forum in which to design a deliberate plan. I do not feel a “fighting” spirit uniting the Democrats yet, in case the resistance is ineffective. Although the majority of Americans lean left we could soon find ourselves living out the Conservative Way. I have no idea what we will do if elections don’t work. We may regret, for a long, long time,  that we did not get our act together in 2016.