Trump’s Ruthless Plan to Stomp Out Democracy in 2024
Trump still has majority Republican support; most are ready and willing for a 2024 authoritarian coup
When Republicans in the United States Senate refused to convict Donald Trump of his crimes against democracy, they set up his comeback plans for 2024. Odds are he’ll be either making an announcement at the upcoming CPAC conference, or at least will strongly hint at it.
This will benefit the Trump Crime Family in a variety of ways, but represents a significant peril to the fragments of American democracy that survived his departure from the White House.
Trump has never believed in democracy; indeed he has spent most all of his life corrupting the democratic process through campaign contributions that were naked bribes (and about which he bragged during the 2016 primary) to his many assaults on the rule of law both as a businessman and as president.
Trump’s comeback in 2024 may be as a candidate for the presidency, or he may simply end up supporting some other modern American fascist for president, but come it will. And, initially, it will almost certainly come as his being an actual candidate.
Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is now back above 50%, and Fareed Zakaria just pointed out how more than half of Trump’s followers consider violence an acceptable tool to gain power in America. This is shocking news, although we shouldn’t be surprised after these folks were primed for outrage and violence by 20 or more years of constant lies and the mythology of conservative victimhood on Fox News and rightwing hate radio.
Proclaiming himself a candidate for president in 2024 is a no-lose option for Trump. Just in the months after he lost the presidency, he raised several hundred million dollars that now sit in his coffers, in addition to the half-billion or more that he funneled out of his campaign during the last five years and into a private corporation that was set up by Jared Kushner, about which we know very little.
So, running for the presidency enables Trump to raise more money by the hundreds of millions; with the real estate business sagging and the Supreme Court ruling against his keeping his tax returns secret from the Manhattan DA, he now has a Plan B when it comes to maintaining his lavish lifestyle.
If he runs for the presidency and loses in either the primary or the general election, he still wins: he gets to play the martyr. Martyrdom has always suited Trump and the conservative movement more generally; from their perpetual complaints of “liberal bias” in the media to their refusal to accept Trump’s 3-million vote loss to Hillary Clinton or 7-million vote loss to Joe Biden, being a martyr has always been at the core of Trump’s political life.
The latest Qanon conspiracy theory is that America hasn’t been a real and legitimate nation-state since FDR’s presidency, when he took us off the gold standard and, after he won the 1932 election, Congress amended the constitution to move the date that the president is sworn into office from March 4 to January 20.
Whether they’ll try to storm the Capitol again on March 4th, or actions or bombs will go off in state capitols, or Trump will simply use the occasion to once again lie about his election loss is unclear; what is clear, though, is that his fascist followers are pumped up and ready to kill again.
Trump could easily put an end to this bizarre conspiracy theory, but as long as the rabble are cranked up, it works to his benefit, so he hasn’t said a word.
The conservative movement in America has always had, as it’s dark underbelly, a fascist element. They came right out in the open in the 1930s, with massive rallies, defenses of Hitler that ran from newspapers across the United States to hundreds of speeches on the floor of the US Congress (compiled by writer Rex Stout in his book The Illustrious Dunderheads), and the America First movement the thrived until the beginning of World War II.
It’s primary rallying cry, from the founding of the republic to today, has been one of white supremacy and white grievance.
One only need to look at the faces of Republicans in Congress, or the racial composition of counties easily won by Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 to see both the result of this and the proof of its existence.
When Trump was president, he corrupted the Department of Justice in ways never before seen in American history. He turned it into his personal defense system, using the power of the federal government that you and I pay for to protect himself against charges of rape that long pre-dated his becoming a politician. He used the Justice Department to obscure the reality of his collusion with Russia and other foreign governments, and had the Department openly cut deals to benefit his friends, and harass his enemies.
Trump corrupted the Department of Defense so thoroughly that in the days before January 6 the Acting Secretary of Defense, Chris Miller, who Trump installed immediately after he lost the election, wrote a memo preventing the Washington DC National Guard from providing any sort of security or even simple support like helmets and teargas to the Capitol Police in the face of a widely publicized and well-documented coming insurrection attempt.
He corrupted the Department of the Interior on behalf of his fossil fuel billionaire donors, corrupted the FDA and CDC to cover up the severity of the Covid crisis thinking that would help him win election in 2020. He corrupted the EPA by moving its DC-based scientists out west, leading more than half of them to quit their jobs.
He corrupted the Voice of America by putting pro-fascist propagandists in charge and firing much of its professional staff; he similarly corrupted the FCC, the Postal Service, and virtually every other branch of American government.
If Trump, or a politician in Trump’s mold, becomes president in 2024, the process that Trump started will be completed.
European governments know this, which is why they have responded in such a lukewarm fashion to President Joe Biden‘s efforts at outreach and reconciliation.
They realize that Trump has demonstrated how fragile our democracy is and how extensively our media has been infiltrated by, and corrupted to the benefit of, America’s oligarchic and neofascist class.
European leaders know this because they have seen the exact same process played out in several of their countries over the years. From Italy, Germany and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s, to Victor or Orband’s Hungary in the early 2000s, they have repeatedly seen the consequences of rightwing media takeovers and the elevation of neofascists to the leadership of government.
The Trump presidency was the culmination of a 40 year campaign to establish Oligarchy in America. They have nearly succeeded.
As a result, average Americans have seen their government, since the Reagan revolution, cease to function on their behalf and devote its efforts almost exclusively to the very wealthy and well-connected.
It’s been a key element of every Republican presidency since 1981, and was even at the center of much of President Bill Clinton’s agenda in the 1990s, from proclaiming “the end of the era of big governemt” to signing off on the Reagan/Bush-negotiated NAFTA and GATT “free trade” deals, to his praising “the end of welfare as we know it.”
The cynicism this produces was largely responsible for Trump’s election victory in 2016. That cynicism could bring him or someone like him back to office in 2024.
The most effective tool Democrats have to combat that cynicism is to restore government’s essential function of serving the needs of the vast majority of the American people, while protecting their rights to privacy and to vote.
And if Biden and the Democrats don’t go big and prove to the American people that government can actually improve their lives, they’ll have simply played into the Trump’s plans for 2024.
The vast majority of Americans, including registered Republicans, want affordable, universal healthcare coverage, an end to an epidemic of crippling student debt, and to rebuild our crumbling physical and intellectual infrastructure in a way that generates good-paying jobs and reduces the threats of extreme weather.
Support for a minimum wage increase, indexed to inflation for the future, is so broad that even when Florida’s voters went big for Trump in 2020 they overwhelmingly passed a ballot provision to raise that states minimum wage to $15.
Across America tens of millions of people are at risk of eviction and millions of children are going to bed hungry. Poverty stalks the formerly middle class, and those who were in poverty before are sliding deeper and deeper into homelessness, despair and even crime as their only option to afford food and housing.
This is no time for half measures. Half measures will destroy the Democratic Party and cause millions of formerly Democratic voters to simply not bother to show up, as happened across the nation in 2016.
Americans want change so badly they’re willing to vote for a psychopathic reality TV star who built his business and political careers on lies. And they might do it again.
President Joe Biden must go big and accomplish at least these things that have been on the table for years and have strong bipartisan support among the electorate (even if elected Republicans, faithful to their billionaire donors don’t agree).
If he fails do at least these things, and to end the filibuster and thus leaves Mitch McConnell and his friends to obstruct Biden’s agenda for four years the way they did Obama’s for eight, a 2024 neofascist Republican victory comes closer to being a certainty.