Monday, April 13, 2020

'an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win' - 9 words that spell the destruction of democracy by a dictator

Windsor Mann, in an op-ed in the LA Times, opines on Why hasn’t Trump employed his powers during the coronavirus crisis? He’s too lazy. Here is some of the rationale.

Trump prefers fake problems to real problems because real problems demand real solutions, which demand real work. Trump doesn’t like to work and rarely does. While marking 100 days in office, he complained, “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” He spends most of his waking hours watching TV, tweeting and talking on the phone.

In addition to being too lazy to do things, Trump is uninterested in doing things. He’s interested in having things. This is what makes his narcissism malignant rather than benign. As the social psychologist Erich Fromm observed, narcissists derive their self-worth from their possessions, not from achievements.

Subverting democracy requires more effort than Trump is willing to exert. He wants to be a dictator, but he’s unwilling to do the work to become one. Just as he inherited a fortune, he wants to inherit an autocracy. To be a successful strongman, you need a strong work ethic. Trump has only weak ethics.

Let’s think about this. Another possibility is that Trump is on his way to being a dictator because the political party in power wants it that way. Yes, I am talking about the GOP’s gerrymandering congressional districts. And, importantly, I am talking about the GOP because of it’s stranglehold on the U. S. Senate. Remember what has happened in Hungary. Orban gained huge power because the politicians wanted it that way.

Heather Cox Richardson supports my viewpoint in her morning email concerned with emergency powers..

Trump demands that White House officials praise him in public and won’t put up with criticism. Just tonight he retweeted a tweet calling for the firing of top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who recently said that the administration’s slow response to the novel coronavirus has cost lives.

Last week, complaining about the media coverage of his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus, he said that Democrats “want to make Trump look as bad as they can, because they want to try and win an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win based on the fact that we have done a great job.”

“An election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win.”

That single phrase, those nine words, sums up the extreme danger to our democracy. Cox Richardson continues.

It seems clear that emergency powers in the hands of such a man could enable him to destroy our democracy.

But here’s what’s key to remember: Our system has a built-in remedy for a president who abuses his power. Our Constitution requires Congress to check a runaway president. The House of Representatives is trying hard to do so, but the Republican Senate refuses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has consistently supported Trump as he has attacked our democracy, and a terrific piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker today explores why. In a piece entitled “How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief,” Mayer argues that McConnell is determined to wield power above all else, and believes that the only way to do that is to control huge financial resources to get his party’s candidates elected. To gather those resources, he needs to work with wealthy donors, including business leaders for whom he does favors.

McConnell is virtually shutting down Congress to avoid taking up anything that would upset Republican donors. “At the end of 2019,” Mayer writes, “more than two hundred and seventy-five bills, passed by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, were sitting dormant on McConnell’s desk.” These included an enormously popular bill for lowering the costs of prescription drugs, but McConnell, who gets more contributions from the pharmaceutical industry than any other senator, refused to take it up, saying he opposes “socialist price controls.” Political scientist Norm Ornstein of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute says McConnell “will go down in history as one of the most significant people in destroying the fundamentals of our constitutional democracy.” He told Mayer, “There isn’t anyone remotely close. There’s nobody as corrupt, in terms of violating the norms of government.”

McConnell is no fan of Trump, but needs him. McConnell is enormously unpopular in his home state of Kentucky. Voters there love Trump, though, and McConnell’s ratings go up whenever he bolsters the president. So while he works to keep money flowing into the coffers of Republican Party leaders, McConnell is careful not to cross Trump, no matter what he does. In turn, his fellow Republicans cannot buck McConnell without losing access to the money and favors that will keep them in office.

It is indeed dangerous that Trump has such sweeping emergency powers at his disposal, but the problem is not the emergency powers. The problem is the president and the Republican senators, who could check Trump’s increasing authoritarianism at any time, if only they wanted to.

If Trump, or someone like him, becomes the American Dictator, it will be more due to Mitch McConnell than to Trump.

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