Day by day, as I see it, the Republicans are taking win after win. From DJT taking the office to pushing their Supreme Court candidate into confirmation. Out of these past 4 years, there is one thing that I've seen that seems to throw the Democrats in office off their game and leave them chasing after the Republicans:
There is NO LINE that the Republicans aren't willing to cross to win.
The idea is to have some common decency. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Republicans in office don't have any of that to spare and it's costing the country in a major way. The one thing that the Democrats are holding on to for dear life right now isn't knowing how to win, but their "morals". I know it's honorable to compete and play fair. However, in today's political ring, it's not productive and it won't grant you the power you need to succeed against the Republicans. Especially in politics and definitely when your opponents are rich old white men.
So let's take a look at how this country was founded in the first place. This land was taken not by peaceful negotiations with the native tribes, but by using dirty and often brutal tactics to thin out the people. From straight forward killing to spreading a disease, the founding fathers did whatever it took to gain control over this land. So please tell me where the "honorable" part is in all I just said.
Let's take a look at how the enslavement of black people took place. Africans where bought over here to be indentured servants for a period of time to help build America. Then when that time was up, they would return to where they once came. Slowly but surely, these poor souls' rights were taken away a little at a time until they became the slaves we know about today. Rich white men decided that they would not honor the agreement and use the race of people for their financial benefit. Go figure right?
So in this article, this is my "love letter" to the Democrats in office on what they're missing and some hard truths that won't be "sugar coated". So let's first look at the authoritarian methods that Trump is using to throw this entire country off balance.
The first is the weaponization of history. Populist leaders promote their political platforms through polarization and social division. They do not mind alienating and insulting some voters if doing so will energize their own base. By posturing as the champions of national greatness, they want to determine who counts as authentic citizens and who does not. This practice inevitably brings history to the fore.
Another, related approach is what might be called post-truth politics. These leaders prefer direct communication with voters through professional propaganda videos and social media, because this allows them to dismiss inconvenient facts offered by experts. In this media ecosystem, fact-checking has little purchase, because the people who need to hear it are not listening, or refuse to believe anything the “liberal” media says. In many democracies, fake news is now most common at the local level, where political operatives have filled the vacuum left by the decline of traditional city and regional outlets.
A third tactic is to run against one’s own government. The term “deep state” is said to have originated in Turkey in the 1990s, but now features prominently in the lexicon for Trump, Orbán, Erdoğan, Johnson, and Poland’s de facto ruler, Jarosław Kaczyński. By blaming nameless shadowy, faceless characters behind the curtain and shadowy cabals, all these leaders have a ready excuse for all of their own failures.
A fourth element in the playbook is voter suppression. Like Erdoğan’s constant attempts to disempower Kurdish voters, Trump and the Republican Party are desperate to disenfranchise African-Americans. For an incumbent would-be strongman, the need to tip the electoral scales opens the door to all kinds of attacks on democratic processes.
Hence, before Poland’s general election in May, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party tried to limit all voting to mail-in ballots, effectively transferring control of the election from the independent National Electoral Commission to the PiS-controlled postal service. Though this plan ultimately ran into resistance, it showed that there are countless ways for authoritarians to meddle in or subvert the process. Not surprisingly, mail-in voting and the politicization of the US Postal Service have become major issues in the US election, too.
Another related device is “political technology,” a term for the dirty tricks commonly associated with post-Soviet politics. Such methods include Russia’s covert backing of third-party candidates like Jill Stein in the 2016 US presidential election; Kompromat, or compromising material (epitomized by the search for dirt on Biden in Ukraine); and simply declaring victory before the votes are counted. In the case of the United States, if Trump declares victory before all postal mail-in ballots have arrived, Republican-controlled legislatures in key states could end the counting early to lock in that outcome.
Even setting up a straw candidate to peel away Black voters: Republicans are paying for, and using their own attorneys to stand up Kanye West in battleground states, a cynical tactic that assumes African-American voters are too stupid to realize the sham.
An incumbent authoritarian can also engage in various forms of “lawfare,” using law enforcement or compliant courts to facilitate gerrymandering, voter suppression, cover-ups, and other violations of the democratic process. Here, one of the biggest advantages is the ability to control the timing of events or the release of politically damaging information.
Many people still believe that then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a new probe into Hillary Clinton just days before the 2016 election tipped the outcome in Trump’s favor. Now, the Department of Justice is run by Attorney General William Barr, a man who has shown no compunction about politicizing independent law-enforcement agencies on Trump’s behalf.
Another common authoritarian tactic is to play the “law-and-order” card. By tarring the Black Lives Matter protests as an outpouring of violent “urban” hooliganism, Trump is reprising the racial politics used by former Republican presidents since Richard Nixon, but by Erdoğan more recently, during the Gezi Park protests in 2013.
The problem for the Democrats in the US, and democrats everywhere, is that all these techniques tend to become more effective the more they are called out. Fact-checking fake news can inadvertently spread misinformation more widely. Warnings about voter suppression can become self-fulfilling prophecies if enough people conclude that the process is rigged and not worth participating in. Challenging violations through the courts creates the impression of an end run around democracy.
To avoid these effects, the project of corrupting democracy needs to be clearly identified, named, and analyzed through a new lens. There is a world of difference between the political subterfuge outlined above and the outright falsification of election results, as happened back in August in Belarus. Nicu Popescu, a former Moldovan foreign minister who is now at the European Council on Foreign Relations, contends that autocracy is not the right term to describe the phenomenon. Rather, “it is the “degradation, corrosion, and deconsolidation of democracy.”
In any case, if Trump were Moldova’s president, one assumes that the European Union would be calling him out for his dirty tricks. Any such criticism from abroad would almost certainly be counterproductive. But it may help to put the current American experience in a wider context, so that democratic forces can see Trump more clearly. Ultimately, the only way to defeat Trump is through politics. The task for the Democrats is to remind Americans what democracy is for – and, one hopes, to counter Trump’s tactics effectively.
So Democrats, please take note:
Trump does not play by the rules. So it's pointless to reason with him or appeal to his humanity or any of the other Republicans in power. Yes, the point is to take the higher road. However, people like this will blow the road up. They aren't playing by any rules.
My suggestion: Crush them. Crush them where they stand and blow away the dust. Stop playing nice.