Contributed by: Martin Westerman 11/18/19
At the danger of making these self-fulfilling prophesies, I’m sharing several nightmare scenarios that I fear could prolong our tenure in Trumpville beyond 2020.
First — 45 overstays his welcome by declaring a national emergency and postponing the November 2020 elections, as catastrophes consume America: disastrous Midwestern fracking earthquakes and water poisoning, or raging Western forest fires, or overwhelming Category 4-5 East and Gulf Coast hurricanes; or thousands or millions of Americans becoming homeless refugees. And/or a war or the Yellowstone Caldera could erupt, or a meteor could strike Earth. Part of the emergency will be the administration’s inability to handle an emergency.
Second – key blocks of citizens don’t get to vote against 45. Power is a drug, Republicans have become addicts, and a fix is offered every election cycle by disenfranchising voters, gerrymandering districts, undermining faith in U.S. institutions to create voter apathy, and winning less populous “red” state elections to skew Electoral College votes that outweigh the U.S. popular vote (e.g., Bush v. Gore, Clinton v. Trump). And then, the “Bernie or Nobody” crowd could pass on voting for any Democrat and throw the election to 45.
Or Third – Republicans and 45 capitalize on the docile herd animals called “humans,” who believe in fantasy like it’s reality, take breaks to chase novelties and shiny objects, and are drawn to leaders who threaten or cajole them into mythical love or submission. These leaders are called “Alpha-animals.” Our U.S. President is an Alpha-pretending, fantasy spinning, idiot savant of distraction (gaslighting, Tweetstorm, ridiculous public statement, & 14 lies-a-day master). We pay attention because he’s the power player – POTUS. We want to ignore him, but horrified fascination keeps us looking.
Historically, human society and activity can be described by a simple pyramid, whether it’s organized religion, empire, monarchy, corporation, drug cartel or authoritarian government:
/ Tribal \
/ Patriarchal \
/ Dictatorial \
/ Hierarchical \
/ Theocratic \
In America, that has meant a society dominated and designed by White, Male, Alpha-directed, Top-down organized, Christian-Capitalists. The other tribes – people of color, immigrants, non-Christians, etc. have been marginalized or shut out of control positions in society.
So Fourth – 45 could be re-elected by playing on White people’s fear of non-white others. Every authoritarian government in human history has (sadly) affirmed that humans respond more to fear than love. You don’t need the Nazis, or Lederer’s A Nation of Sheep, or Harari’s Sapiens trilogy. to tell you love is powerful until the loving person gets threatened or killed. Then survivors fear for their safety and lives. Ideologues, marauders, conquerors and religious zealots always use violence on “non-believers” when they can’t persuade with words or deeds
Studies show that despots and authoritarian rulers win popular support and retain legitimacy using notions and beliefs that “bolster willing obedience.” Also, they keep a monopoly over use of force; s control of economic and infrastructural resources; and a strong and sustainable administrative apparatus. It enables powerful minorities to control population majorities.
Humans also tend to not think ahead or self-reflect – unless we’re pregnant females (and perhaps their partners). Thinking ahead generally invites (a) arguments about which plan is best, and (b) delays to study the plan and make excuses about why it’s too challenging and/or expensive to do.
Self-reflection is a thicket, too. As Harari observes in 21 Lesson For The 21st Century, do Christians ask themselves how a religion based on love begot the Crusades, Inquisition, witch hunts, the 30 Years’ War and anti-Semitism? Do Marxists ask how Marx’s teachings led to Stalin, the gulags and the Cultural Revolution? Or scientists ask how the scientific project has led to destabilizing the global ecosystem? Or geneticists ask how that helped Nazis hijack Darwinist theories? Do capitalists ask how the “free market” created slave plantations, the Great Depression, today’s homeless crisis, and Facebook destabilizing Western democracy? No.
So back to my nightmares about how Trump & Co. stay in office past 2020:
1. Monopolizing force by:
a. Calling out the U.S. Army to “guard” polling places and scare away voters
b. Calling on his “fine people” (Charlottesville, white supremacist & neo-Nazi gangs) to battle opponents. Will militias drilling in American forests, and in 2016 occupied the Malheur national refuge in Oregon – take sides, and if so, whose? Will U.S. Armed Forces (and/or National Guard and/or local police) crush the gangs or do 45’s bidding? What will 2nd Amendment advocates do – support or fight the President and the gangs?
2. Not playing by the rules: Jennifer Senior asked why R’s don’t, and Democrats and Independents do play by the rules (Oct. 2019 NY Times op-ed). In today’s income polarized America, corporations are “persons” (SCOTUS Santa Clara 1886), money is “speech” (Citizens United 2010), and Senate and House R’s now block all legislative progress at the federal level, as they and 45 continue to run circles around hapless Democrats who “play by the rules.”
3. Attacking the impeachment process, (a) by declaring it unconstitutional, (b) calling all Congressional subpoenas for witnesses invalid, (c) calling the process a “Deep State” attempt to pull off a coup against His Unitary Executive-ship, or an attempt to undo the 2016 election.
4. Challenging Congress and the Supreme Court to unseat him. Both the Supreme Court, and the Senate that would try Prez 45 are in sympathetic Republican hands (that’s another issue – how to eliminate politics from judicial nominations & appointments?)
5. Delegitimizing the 2020 election, by indoctrinating Trump Herd supporters, with Fox News help, to view any close or contested 2020 election as an excuse to ignore the results (see Second above), so the D.C Police or U.S. Army would have to drag him out of the White House (Raw Story 10/13/2019) (see 1.b. above),
6. Declaring widespread voter fraud (see Second above) so he can remain in the White House post-election until a fraud investigation has finished.
7. Democrats give 2020 Senate and Presidential elections away to Trump and R’s, by continued in-fighting, and failure to agree on and strongly support a good presidential candidate.
Activist Aditi Juneja asks all 2020 candidates what they’ll do to prevent another president like Trump, assure that federal checks and balances will work, and that elections will be free, fair and accessible?” (Talking Points Memo Oct. 14, 2019. U.S. democracy is not guaranteed, she says. “It’s an idea that each generation has to renew and redefine.”
All of our American ancestors are immigrants who came here to escape persecution or famine, or/and to find safe haven and new opportunities IN America. Now we, their heirs may have to think about where in the world we can go to find places that are safe FROM America. Having to start that search is my worst nightmare.