"It's been a struggle to wake people up" — Expert warns of Trump's authoritarian ambitions for U.S. Presidency

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/27/its-been-a-struggle-to-wake-people-up-expert-warns-of-trumps-authoritarian-ambitions-for-u-s-presidency.html


It’s like the plot of Don’t Look Up but for fascism.


Angry The Office GIF


I don’t know what more anyone can do when Il Douche and his minions are literally announcing their intentions on the campaign stump and in documents like Project 2025.

At this point anyone who hasn’t woken up is willfully ignorant, willfully complacent, or willfully in favour of a transition to dictatorship.


I’ll just leave this in here:

He’s telling us in broad daylight.

I. Day 1 Dictatorship Promise: Immigration

II. Day 1 Dictatorship Promise: Energy and the Environment

III. Subverting the Rule of Law to Protect Himself from Prosecution

IV. Persecuting his Perceived Political Enemies

V. Draconian Abortion Access Crackdown

VI. Purging Federal Employees

VII. Rigging Elections and Promoting Harmful Election Conspiracy Theories

VIII. Rejecting the Constitution

IX. Demonizing Americans with Whom He Disagrees

X. Trump’s Effusive Praise of Autocrats

XI. Enriching Himself and His Family

XII. Creating an Unconstitutional Criminal Justice System

XIII. Wielding the Military to Suppress Civil Dissent

XIV. Undermining America’s Stature Abroad and Eroding International Alliances

XV. Discriminating Against LGBTQ+ Americans

XVI. Attacking the Free Press

XVII. Spreading Disinformation and Conspiracy Theories on Public Health

XVIII. Embracing Christian Nationalism

XIX. Politicizing Education & Censoring Disfavored Ideas

XX. Condoning Anti-Semitism

XXI. Bipartisan Actions to Counter Autocratic Threats

Awake yet?


It’s been a struggle to wake people up

Well, of course, then they’d be woke !!1!


The part I don’t quite understand (as a non-USian) is that there are limits on ‘Presidential (executive) power’ right? Otherwise the legislative and judicial branches would be kind of pointless.
In order to be able to do half the things Trump has claimed that he wants to do, his team would have to dismantle everything else. I mean, Biden only tried to cancel some student debt and afaics had to fight every step of the way.
Now, I realise that the Supreme Court has effectively been suborned already (although there are still limits on what they can interfere with), but the Senate is a different proposition, and even the House would be unlikely to roll over just like that.

I get the impression that this is why people are a little more relaxed about the prospect. That doesn’t mean there aren’t pants-wettingly terrifying possibilities involving dismantling executive agencies and so on. But it doesn’t seem to me to be so easy for a President to just declare supreme power without consequence; the system seems to be more robust than it looks. And the other advantage that the US has in this respect is that it’s a wildly individualistic society with a founding myth about self-reliance (and rebellion) and so on that is only a few hundred years old; the authoritarian followers may be willing to accept a dictator, but I’m not sure that anyone else really would, compared to many other countries.

Then again, as noted, I’m an outsider, and I may be missing a lot of stuff.


I think if we end up with Trump Redux… we will see a rise in defenestration locally and mishaps involving empty elevator shafts. Maybe mishandling of polonium.

Laws and norms only keep people safe insomuch as a critical mass of people inside and outside of government continues to believe in and enforce those laws and norms.


We are not relaxed, actually. Separation of powers is a thing, but the whole point of authoritarianism is that you don’t play by the rules and you work to subvert them. That is what he and his movement are trying to do. Like any other fascist movement, they are using a combination of legal maneuvering (via stacking the courts, primarily, but also by dismantling constitutional rights via the courts), power grabs (under the unitary executive theory, mainly), and organized/disorganized acts of violence.

Maintaining our system (any modern, democratic system really), depends up on all players agreeing to and abiding by the rules. Many in the MAGA movement do not want to do that. If he gets into the office again, he can and will cause real damage, even if he doesn’t manage to install himself as a dictator.


Ummm…the Republican majority in the House, which thankfully is slim, already has rolled over just like that, and Trump isn’t even President. They killed a bipartisan deal to continue aid to Ukraine and deal with the border crisis because Trump told the Speaker to kill it.


" a struggle to wake people up”

Well, no shit.

The opposite of awake (“woke”) is ASLEEP.


You’re right that, legally, there are safe guards put in place.

But if you put collaborators in key positions, and they get the various branches of government to go along with it, then you can more or less exert your will.

I personally am less worried about them succeeding in getting all of the government to fall in line, but rather start telling branches to do some shit that they absolutely should not be doing, and part of the branches going along, and other parts not. It will throw the whole system in to chaos. Imagine one general ordering troops to start shooting people crossing the boarder, and some individual officers under him refused to follow that unlawful order. Then what?

Or order the FBI to start arresting certain people, and some do and some don’t.

Judges agree with or say an order is unconstitutional, but it doesn’t matter because the will ignore it either way.

It would be a really bad time.

I don’t know the likelihood of all this, but they are DEFINITELY getting better organized that last time and the best option is to not even get these people in such a position.


This country has dealt with these problems before. Andrew Jackson (maybe apocryphally) famously said, after a Supreme Court decision he disagreed with, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” He may not have actually said that, but he did indicate he was not inclined to help the Court enforce its decision should he be asked to provide federal assistance. Jackson soon had a reversal in attitude with the nullification crisis, but that crisis was another good example of how fragile our safeguards are. And, of course, there was the Civil War.

This is why I think it’s amazing that so many people seem to think “it can’t happen here.” It absolutely can. It almost has many times in our history. Shit, sometimes this stuff happens with otherwise good leaders. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. He didn’t have the authority to do that. Only Congress did. But they just let it happen. They even passed a law after the fact allowing it, and I think even that was of questionable Constitutionality. That’s not really important, but my point is that the guardrails protecting our Democracy are made out of tissue paper, and only work because everyone agrees to pretend that they’re not. As you correctly point out, it wouldn’t take as much as people think for the whole thing to collapse.


Trump broke countless “norms” of government the first time. He could break them without consequences because they were only norms that politicians had agreed to respect, not laws, and now Republicans agreed to allow him to break them.


People are always in denial. They’re always unprepared. And very often they think that it can’t happen here.

And that extends to those who are frustrated with Biden (and certainly understandably so) who yet conclude that they can’t vote for Biden and would rather ‘sit on their hands’. The question which must be constantly pounded is: “For whatever you’re annoyed with Biden, do you really think trump would be an improvement?” and if the reply is some version of “But I’m not voting for trump! i’m voting for neither!” then they must be gently informed that that’s not a functional option. By not voting for Biden you’re most definitely increasing trump’s chances.


Plus fascist enablers are madly cobbling together phony “legal” justifications for their projects. A couple of days ago I heard a justification for sending the US military into [Blue state] cities to “fix things.” It was total nonsense, based on cherry-picking convenient, ancient laws and twisting them into shape. So the Trumpists do the thing and the people cry that it’s unconstitutional. So the matter goes to the courts, on which sit hundreds of Trumpist judges. So the people appeal to the Supreme Court, which is dominated by bought-and-paid-for Trumpist “justices.” Presto–it’s constitutional because The Founders really meant to say green is purple and down is up, meaning it’s the ban against using Federal troops domestically that was unconstitutional. Rinse and repeat.


I have no idea why this is so hard for people to understand. If they were in a car speeding towards a brick wall at 120 miles per hour, I don’t think they’d have trouble understanding why “But I’m not stomping on the gas, I’m just not hitting the brake pedal” isn’t a wise argument.


Good analogy.


Driver: Jesus, take the wheel…

Passenger: What the hell are you talking about?? You’re the one sitting in the driver’s seat and even if you weren’t, a first-century carpenter isn’t going to know how to safely operate an automobile! DO SOMETHING!!