It is becoming hard to write something topical these days. Just as a person sits down to write a commentary on the latest scandal, there is a new and more serious scandal. But all of the ebb and flow of our history in the 21st century has been in the theme of the Republican Party careening toward autocracy and ending the nearly 230 years of constitutional government.
It feels like every day the breaking news brings us another major lurch toward ending our democracy and setting up an autocratic government under the current president. Fortunately, we still have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in her anchor chair ready to give a much broader view than most of us are taking. Maddow often sews together bits of history, with often little known facts and current major headlines to make us understand just what has happened.
Wednesday night, Maddow outdid herself with an 8 minute discussion of some of what has led us to our current situation in the US as we seem to have turned a corner and picked up speed on our descent into autocracy:
This is 8 minutes of video you need to listen to.
Maddow discusses such topics as “Believe the autocrat when he tells you who he is” or “Institutions will not save you.” We depend on the players to play by the rules. We have seen Republican presidents of this century bend and break rules without so much as a fare thee well. While many of us believe the current president is the worst ever, once he has broken and beat rules without penalty you can bet the next Republican will push the limits even farther.
One last point that I want to discuss is Maddow’s discussion of Tim Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In it Snyder lays out some rules to at least slow down advancing authoritarianism. The first rule is “Do Not Obey In Advance.” This one really hits home when we consider the recent impeachment trial.
It really hits home in Iowa where we have two of the most acquiescent senators of all in bowing to the authoritarian president.
First we have long termer and long time “party before country guy” Chuck Grassley. Grassley announced shortly after his vote against impeachment that he would use the power of his senate committee to go after potential Trump opponent former VP Joe Biden. This is of course not unprecedented since Republicans, including Grassley, have spent decades and squandered millions of dollars chasing Hillary Clinton to find she did nothing, nothing wrong.
And of course Iowa is also home to one of Trump’s biggest backers, Joni Ernst. In a laugher of a statement on her vote to acquit Trump on his impeachment, Ernst claimed something to the effect that ’Trump has learned his lesson and won’t do that any more.’ Now anyone with a post-fourth grade education risked doing themselves damage laughing at that line.
Such a statement proves that Ernst is either a total fool and thus unfit for congress or (and most likely) thinks Iowans are fools that she can just say anything to and we will take her at her word. Considering her performance in the China embargo and in the Renewable Fuel Standards issues, she appears to be all in for the autocrat and ready to tell Iowans just about anything. In short she is a very, very willing tool for the coming autocracy.
With the actions of the past week – The DOJ becoming Trump’s personal law firm and Trump’s out in the open (and illegal) revenge blitz against anyone considered an enemy (and his brother) – we must take heed of the lessons offered on the coming autocracy.
I believe we can still head it off, but we will need a fullout commitment and effort in the elections this year. This year’s election is the last firewall of democracy.