At the dreary prospect of the next Presidential election being a rerun of 2020, a vital POV emerged from a September 8th opinion piece which appeared in the Sunday, September 10 NY Times by two Harvard professors entitled Democracy’s Assassins Always Have Accomplices.
They impressively argue, citing historical examples, of how the attacks on democracy by right wing extremists, abetted by the uncourageous voices of often minority political allies can be thwarted or not.
Here’s one example:
Consider the example of France. On Feb. 6, 1934, in the center of Paris, thousands of disaffected and angry men — veterans and members of right-wing militia groups — gathered near the national Parliament as its members were inside preparing to vote for a new government. They threw chairs, metal grates and rocks and used poles with razor blades on one end to try to breach the doors of Parliament. Members of Parliament, frightened for their lives, had to sneak out of the building. Seventeen people were killed, and thousands were injured. Although the rioters failed to seize the Parliament building, they achieved one of their objectives: The centrist prime minister resigned the next day and was replaced by a right-leaning one.
Although French democracy survived the Feb. 6 attack on Parliament, the response of some prominent politicians weakened its defenses. Many centrist and center-left politicians responded as loyal democrats, publicly and unequivocally condemning the violence. But many conservative politicians did not. Key members of France’s main conservative party, the Republican Federation, many of whom were inside the Parliament building that day, sympathized publicly with the rioters. Some praised the insurrectionists as heroes and patriots. Others dismissed the importance of the attack, denying that there had been an organized plot to overthrow the government.
When a parliamentary commission was established to investigate the events of Feb. 6, Republican Federation leaders sabotaged the investigation at each step, blocking even modest efforts to hold the rioters to account. Protected from prosecution, many of the insurrection’s organizers were able to continue their political careers. Some of the rioters went on to form the Victims of Feb. 6, a fraternity-like organization that later served as a recruitment channel for the Nazi-sympathizing Vichy government established in the wake of the 1940 German invasion.
The failure to hold the Feb. 6 insurrectionists to account also helped legitimize their ideas. Mainstream French conservatives began to embrace the view — once confined to extremist circles — that their democracy was hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional and infiltrated by Communists and Jews. Historically, French conservatives had been nationalist and staunchly anti-German. But by 1936, many of them so despised the Socialist prime minister, Léon Blum, that they embraced the slogan “Better Hitler than Blum.” Four years later, they acquiesced to Nazi rule.
The semi-loyalty of leading conservative politicians fatally weakened the immune system of French democracy. The Nazis, of course, finished it off.
"Democracy's assassins always have accomplices." https://t.co/w83MAJxxk8
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) September 10, 2023
Here’s another which shows how democracy can be saved with courage:
The Spanish political scientist Juan Linz wrote that when mainstream politicians face this sort of predicament, they can proceed in one of two ways.
On the one hand, politicians may act as loyal democrats, prioritizing democracy over their short-term ambitions. Loyal democrats publicly condemn authoritarian behavior and work to hold its perpetrators accountable, even when they are ideological allies. Loyal democrats expel antidemocratic extremists from their ranks, refuse to endorse their candidacies, eschew all collaboration with them and, when necessary, join forces with ideological rivals to isolate and defeat them. And they do this even when extremists are popular among the party base. The result, history tells us, is a political firewall that can help a democracy survive periods of intense polarization and crisis.
On the other hand, too often politicians become what Mr. Linz called semi-loyal democrats. At first glance, semi-loyalists look like loyal democrats. They are respectable political insiders and part of the establishment. They dress in suits rather than military camouflage, profess a commitment to democracy and ostensibly play by its rules. We see them in Congress and in governors’ mansions — and on debate stages. So when democracies die, semi-loyalists’ fingerprints may not be found on the murder weapon.
These scholars argue so effectively that the tipping point in whether the fascist forces topple democracy depends on the courage or cowardice of the less powerful members of the attacking party.
In this time and place, the perfect analogy with the history these authors cite is the Trump owned GOP!
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have a piece in The Atlantic this morning, an excerpt from their new book, Tyranny of the Minority, which everyone should read. I have a review of the book coming out in the coming weeks, which everyone also should read. https://t.co/5IFX34Gize
— corey robin (@CoreyRobin) September 5, 2023
It could be that the GOP’s minority voices will make the difference between winning or losing our democracy in 2024. No, I am not referring to DeSantis, Haley or Pence.
There as plenty of strong, ethical Republicans who have spoken out such as Russell “Rusty” Bowers, retired Federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, Ben Ginsberg and even Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr.
This Op Ed article opens with the story of the initial GOP debate on August 23rd in Milwaukee not attended by Trump who says he’s already the nominee.
When asked by the debate moderator who of the 8 candidates would vote for whoever is nominated 6 raised their hands.
It’s been widely reported that these candidates seek to be Trump’s VP running mate.
Two major GOP pundits, NY Times David Brooks sees Trump as the nominee, but George Will disagrees.
Read this entire article to get the force of where we are today as we stand today on the brink of disaster.
Now and never Trumpers named above have chimed in with searing rhetoric, but we voters have to understand the enormity of where we are and that means listening to voices such as Robert Reich when he gives you the voice and picture of this often sycophantic fascist speaking to his MAGA audiences!
But the polls now show Biden and Trump in a dead heat and top political pundits expect a repeat 2020 Presidential race to be as close as before when under 50,000 votes enabled Biden to capture the Electoral College votes needed to win.
These Harvard historians’ book, “The Tyranny of the Minority” and their NY Times article should give every American pause to ponder which way we will go in the November 2024 election.
“What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”: https://t.co/fHuh0CG6JD
“We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”: https://t.co/TA4j7cp1tE
“From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”: https://t.co/lkC2t3E1A9 pic.twitter.com/bQsL2mLBcO
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) November 1, 2021
Tyranny of the Minority: How American Democracy Came to the Breaking Point
The first 2024 GOP primary debate, in 3 minutes
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Trump’s ongoing threat to American democracy
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