Comedian Bill Maher, former National Security Council member Fiona Hill and NYU historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat have all recently used the term “slow coup”. In fact, this term, in various formulations, has appeared several times in Salon, starting in 2017, Donald Trump’s first year as President. He is of course referring to the assertive and toxic maneuvers by Trump and his right-wing sycophants to overthrow democracy and since his election defeat last year, to regain power at all costs. Trump’s apparent goal is to reclaim the country’s top office so that his power, his scams and his corruption can once again be rife. For our country and our democracy, this coup would have disastrous consequences. This is not hyperbole or melodrama. Trump and his facilitators come to us like a runaway train. And democracy is linked to the track.
It is important to understand how this coup is playing out on how the runaway train is gaining momentum. Several actions are taking place simultaneously. First, changes to state legislatures will allow supporters to determine election winners regardless of the actual vote and the will of the people. These changes in legislatures have already started in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Second, with voter suppression laws enacted in many states, the almost obvious priority of preventing people of color from voting is a top priority. Third, gerrymandering by Republicans is a growing strategy to affect election results: This week Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved a pernicious new plan. Fourth, Trump’s promulgation of his Big Lie and other misinformation continues. He continues to claim that the presidential election was stolen from him and that the Democrats must be defeated because they are “socialists”.
Taken collectively, all of these actions by Trump and his allies represent an undeniable and potentially life-altering attack on democracy, now threatened by a man and a party seeking to establish an authoritarian autocracy. More worryingly, such aspirations have been unleashed across much of the American public.
Millions of Americans continue to express their support for Trump. In fact, recent polls indicate that two-thirds of Republicans want Trump to retain a major political role, and 44% of them want him to run for president again in 2024. Which is both astonishing And frighteningly, is that Trump’s allure is largely based on his propaganda, victimhood, and false personal attributes of superiority and greatness. The fact that he was complicit in the murder of 500,000 victims of the pandemic during his tenure is completely ignored. Its supporters are ready to turn a blind eye to its incompetence, corruption and cruelty in order to ensure that the “socialist”, “immigration-loving” Democrats are defeated. These Americans are thirsty for a return to power. For them, Trump is their ticket to a racist, intolerant, aggrieved, divided and increasingly violent America.
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The loss of our democracy does not seem to feature high on the consciousness of most Americans, who do not understand that democracy is inherently fragile and not guaranteed to us by divine destiny. Many seem to take it for granted. But the end of free and open elections would destroy our democracy. Unleashed corruption would destroy our democracy. Using the Department of Justice to hide wrongdoing and prosecute political rivals would destroy our democracy. Nepotism and widespread incompetence would destroy our democracy. To undermine our confidence in the free press would destroy our democracy. Substituting conspiracy theories for science and truth would destroy our democracy. And shameless swindle and corruption at the expense of the state would destroy our democracy. All of these examples are central to Trumpism and the right-wing Republican agenda. This is their plan for America and democracy is not in their calculation.
It has to be said again: Donald Trump is not just another typical politician. He’s a malicious narcissist whose worst intentions are to destroy anything that threatens to rob him of power, wealth and respect. He will not stop until he is stopped by others because he has no conscience or moral compass. He is beyond political or personal salvation, he is deceptive, accomplice, corrupt and dangerous, with no regard for others. He doesn’t have to be the ruler of a country; for him, the public service is an anarchic playground for his personal gratification. His malicious intentions cannot be overstated.
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Trump’s “slow coup” his runaway train must be stopped. To do this, several steps must be taken immediately. First, Trump must be prosecuted for his misdeeds, his incitement to the insurgency on Capitol Hill, and his attempts to sabotage the election by trying to change the vote count (for example, in Georgia). Second, the Congressional investigation into the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill must be fully completed. Third, elected Republican officials who supported the insurgency must be held accountable. All saboteurs must be uprooted or else they are like cancer that metastasizes with deadly force. We know with a high degree of certainty that Representatives Mo Brooks, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and others had contact with the insurgents in the days leading up to the attack on Capitol Hill. These members should resign or be excluded.
Trump hopes his efforts pay off in the 2024 election. He doesn’t care about the safety and happiness of the American people, and he certainly doesn’t care about democracy. If it’s up to him, America’s democratic tradition will be set aside the day he gets his hands on the Bible and takes the oath again. This would mark the final triumph of his coup.
Americans are left with a dramatic choice: to save democracy by rejecting Donald Trump and his Republican comrades, or allow them to flout our hard-won democratic principles and institutions by carrying out their coup that now appears to be a runaway train.
More from Salon on Donald Trump’s not-so-slow coup attempt:
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