Monday, September 27, 2021

The Gathering Storm

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Any political observer with a shred of intellectual integrity had already come to the conclusion that our democracy is imperiled as it hasn't been since the British burned down our nation's Capitol and forced President and First Lady Madison out of the White House in 1814. The 2022 midterms will be but a dress rehearsal for 2024's general election.
    2022 will be the year Republican scum test drive their new voter suppression laws like the ones in Georgia and Texas that have essentially put the kibosh on voting, making legal access to the polls all but impossible, especially if you live in a community of color. This was a direct and frenzied response to unprecedented numbers of black voters casting votes (and a 120 year-high for voting in general, 67%). If Democrats still, somehow, prevail above the hamstringing, well, then, the aforementioned Republican scum will always have the luxury of fine tuning and tightening the restrictions even more in time for 2024.
    In 2016, Donald Trump got roughly 63,000,000 votes. Despite killing hundreds of thousands of Americans through his shrugged response to COVID-19, despite abandoning our Kurdish allies in northeast Syria, taking the side of Putin over that of our intelligence agencies, denigrating our war dead, negotiating with terrorists like the Taliban and tanking the economy in tried-and-true Republican fashion, he actually got 11,000,000 more votes in 2020.
     That should give any American that cares about our democratic Republic permanent diarrhea and cold sweats in the middle of the night. Yes, the worst "president" in American history actually got 74,000,000+ rubes to vote for him again.There but for the grace of 81,000,000 Biden voters... Then the final straw came a couple of months later when black voters struck again and voted Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff into the US Senate during the January 5th Georgia runoff elections. Not only did both seats in a safe red state go to Democrats for the first time since Ben Franklin was in short pants, the runoff results gave Democrats the very slimmest of majorities in the upper chamber, with Vice President Harris representing a tie-breaking 50-50 vote.
    The GOP couldn't have that. And it wasn't a coincidence that the panicked Georgia GOP was the first to respond to all those uppity voters who had the effrontery to vote for Democrats by ramming through straight to Brian Kemp's office the most suppressive voting bill since the old Soviet Union. In fact, as Kemp signed the bill, under a painting of a plantation, a black state congresswoman named Park Cannon was getting arrested at Kemp's door because God forbid black lawmakers should enjoy any transparency whatsoever when their right to vote is being threatened.
     And, of course, Republican scum being Republican scum the world over, Texas has already issued the first draft of their congressional districts that, surprise, heavily favors Republican incumbents, weakens Democratic incumbents and further dilutes the vote of communities of color despite that demographic driving the largest and fastest population growth in Texas.

Let History be Your Guide
As the old saying goes, history doesn't always repeat itself but sometimes it rhymes. 
     After WW II's conclusion, Winston Churchill had written his memoirs that, whether by design or not, became perhaps the most monumental history of World War II ever attempted. The first of this six part compendium, The Gathering Storm, details not only Hitler's rise to power but also the decade before that, to the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.
    The opening salvo of that book is entitled, "The Follies of the Victors: 1919-1929." The sharp-tongued Churchill wasted no time in denigrating the Allied Powers after the end of the first World War and ignored the growing threat of Germany. Churchill had detailed a great many things in this introductory 750 page volume and, unsurprisingly, Hitler's gradual, decade-long ascent from failed rebel to jailbird to Chancellor of Germany was a major part of it.
     Even three years after the defeat of the Nazis, Churchill could never fathom why the Allied leaders of the time did not take Hitler's threat seriously to merge Austria with Germany as he'd unambiguously promised in his jailhouse memoir, Mein Kampf. Indeed, the same could be said of the political leaders and commentariat of the post-war Weimar Republic.
    The Germans at the time, with few exceptions, did not take Hitler's threat seriously. Being the Chancellor at that time was to be second banana to the aging President Hindenburg, and in early 1933, Hitler was just the latest in a long line of briefly-serving placeholders. In other words, Weimar-era Germany was supremely (Churchill would've said "arrogantly") confident in the pillars that supported their own Democratic Republic. The rest is history.
    They laughed at Hitler and his brown shirts and SS and SA goons. We run the risk of underestimating bargain basement Hitler or Mussolini, aka Donald Trump by calling him a bargain basement Hitler or Mussolini. Yes, Trump is a buffoon, a regular bathos factory who'd shamelessly made himself the butt of jokes on the world stage for four agonizing years that had felt like 12.
     But this is the guy who'd, again, gotten 11,000,000 more votes than four years before, who'd nearly pulled off an insurrection that could've seen the assassination of his own vice president, the Speaker of the House and countless members of Congress. It wouldn't have been the end of our democracy but the Capitol building would've needed, to quote a character from Die Hard, "a new paint job and a shitload of screen doors."

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

In one of Fate's countless cruel ironies both great and small, the next general election, in 2024, will be on the fifth of November, the day the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators was discovered and broken up in 1605.
     Well, in the succeeding 416 years, we don't resort to kegs of gunpowder but nuisance lawsuits and two page memos by right wing shysters like John Eastman. That name may sound familiar to those of you in the know. If it doesn't, it ought to be. It ought to because a week ago, it was reported on CNN on the publication of Bob Woodward's and Bob Costa's Peril that Eastman had drafted a two page memo outlining a six point plan that was supposed to enable Mike Pence to decertify the 2020 election results of seven states, all namely ones Trump had lost, using a dodgy, to put it charitably, interpretation of the 1804 12th amendment.
     In the event that the election wasn't certified by Congress, which had only happened once before in 1876, the House was then supposed to decide the 2020 election. In that case, each state delegation would've received only one vote and, since Republicans were in the majority in 27 of those delegations as of the swearing in of the 117th Congress, the election then would've been given to Trump.
     It was a stunning revelation in that this Eastman character, a former law clerk of Clarence Thomas, could and would so blithely dismiss the vox populi that gave President Joe Biden a commanding 7,000,000 vote mandate. It was an attempted detonation of the electoral process, one of the supporting pillars of our democracy, that promised no less a disastrous result than the blowing up of the Parliament Building in Westminster in 1605.
    When the memo was smuggled to Senators Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham, both attorneys, they, too, had laughed at its contents and no doubt Pence would've had a similar reaction to it if he ever allowed himself to laugh and actually use his facial muscles. Yes, they laughed and laughed and a good time was had by all.
     Just like the post WWI Weimar Republican Old Guard on Hitler's ascension. No one ever thought he would ever amount to much, especially with the Beer Hall Putsch of a decade before still fairly fresh in the minds of Germans. Then the month after Hitler assumed power, through legal democratic means, the Reichstag caught fire. Then there was the Enabling Act. Then, after that, horrified Germans watched the dominoes fall until Berlin followed suit a dozen years later.
     Eastman's memo should be the smoking gun that opens up an investigation at the DOJ that should dwarf Watergate. But it hasn\'t. The mainstream media, starting with TV news networks, should be screaming about this like a thousand Howard Beales. But they're not. And the Democrats should be basing a huge part of their 2022 platform on this brazen attempt at subversion. But, of course, they're not. They're Democrats.
     Today, Guy Fawkes is both reviled and admired, depending on your religious stripe. How will Donald Trump be viewed in the years, decades and centuries to come? Will he be reviled as a democracy-hating villain, which he is, or will he, too, be given the luxury of a historical makeover?


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