How did fascism (or something perilously close to it) come to America? The quick answer is here. A Trump surrogate has come right out and said: "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts." Context does not change the meaning of that sentiment; check it out for yourself.
But you want a more detailed answer, don't you? Cannonfire reader David Jay Morris, a former news editor, has written a remarkable essay on the rise of Trumpism, and he has graciously offered it to this humble blog for publication. It's long, it's juicy, and it's the best I've seen on the topic. Everything below the asterisks is his, not mine.
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A Slow Motion Coup D’état
the alleged election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States, have
we just witnessed the final act in what comedian Bill Maher recently called, “a
slow-motion right wing coup d’etat?”
all the bloviating and lies that characterized his campaign, Trump does appear
to have gotten one thing right…the election was
rigged. The problem is, it’s the Republicans
who did the rigging.
been at it for decades and once Trump is sworn in and his first Supreme Court
nominee is seated, all checks and balances will be gone. Thirty-plus years of
right-wing subterfuge and guile will have paid off big time, although not
necessarily in the way most Republicans intended.
cult of Trump will be ascendant.
Hillary Clinton once said that there was a “vast right-wing conspiracy” arrayed
against her and her husband. These words
elicited mainly sneers at the time, but can anyone seriously doubt them
now? Let’s take a quick look at some of
the main elements of this “conspiracy” and see if you still think that Donald
J. Trump is the legitimately elected president of the United States of America.
All of them have been presented and
analysed in much greater depth elsewhere – and links to a few articles about
each of them are included for those who would like to start investigating
further – but here is an attempt to outline them all.
Intensive Voter Suppression
in 1980, leading right-wing Republican operative Paul Weyrich said,
many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome. Good government.
They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not
won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our
country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the
elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
since, the Republican party has engaged in a systematic effort to make voting
more difficult for African Americans, young people, Hispanics and other groups
who tend to strongly support the Democrats.
since the Supreme Court trashed the
Voting Rights Act in 2010, states with Republican governments have pulled out
all the stops to keep as many likely Democratic supporters as possible off of
the voting roles. No one knows exactly
how many people have been disenfranchised through these efforts, but estimates
of Democratic votes lost range into the millions. Trump’s alleged margin of victory in
Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida could easily have
been erased if all those who should have been eligible to vote had been able to
Creation of an Alternative Right-Wing
News, Breitbart, Alex Jones, the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, home schooling,
biblical literalism, well-funded right wing “think tanks” (or should we say
propaganda factories), climate change denialism, fake news planted on social
media – the list goes on and on. For
more than 30 years, the right wing has undertaken a systematic and
well-organized campaign to dumb down a large portion of the American
electorate, destroy their capacity for critical evidence based thinking and
leave them susceptible to the wildest sort of demagoguery.
stage was set for Trump.
Corruption and Weaponization
in the day, most fundamentalist Christians could be counted on to reject the
theory of evolution, but also to think that Jesus meant it when he told his
followers to care for the least among us and that it might be easier for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into
heaven. Abortion, on the other hand, was
nowhere on their radar as it wasn’t touched on at all by their saviour.
times have changed. Back in the 60s and
70s, right-wing Republicans and their wealthy backers realized that there was
no better way to undercut support for the Democrats who were championing civil
rights for minorities, the right to choose for women and a more equitable
distribution of income and wealth than
to paint them as not only political opponents but as actual agents of the devil. Politically, their program has been an
astounding success…but in the process any remote connection to the actual
teachings of Jesus seems to have been lost.
Demonization of the Media
with the creation of their own propaganda organs, a core tactic of fascist
movements is the discrediting and demonization of the mainstream (i.e.
fact-based) media. Starting with Rush
Limbaugh and Fox “News,” this has been a staple of the Republican playbook for
years. Trump has, however, taken it to a
whole new level, to the point where reporters trying to cover his rallies
became concerned for their personal safety.
demonization is crucial if the voters are to be kept “safely” away from the
truth about the people and policies for which they are voting.
Demonization of their Foes,
Especially the Clintons
the time Bill Clinton first stepped into the governor’s mansion in Arkansas,
right-wing Republicans have regarded him – and his wife Hillary – as very
serious threats and they have spared no effort or expense in their efforts to
demonize them. The attacks in Arkansas
were constant, but things really took off once Bill and Hillary moved into the
White House. Remember Whitewater, the years-long multi-million dollar partisan
witch hunt conducted by “independent” prosecutor Kenneth Starr which led to
absolutely nothing but the opportunity for the Republicans to bring a trumped
up impeachment charge against the president for lying about consensual sex.
of Hillary has been no better. In spite
of the Republicans undying efforts to find something – anything – to charge her
with over Benghazi, her private e-mail server or the life-saving Clinton Foundation,
they have come up with absolutely nothing.
What the right-wingers have succeeded in brilliantly, however, is in
smearing Hillary’s reputation and painting her as “crooked Hillary” in the
is the real scandal.
Florida 2000 and the
Judicial Coup D’etat
there had been a fair and complete count of all the votes cast for president in
Florida in 2000, Al Gore would very likely have been the 43rd
President of the United States. If the
thousands of (mostly black) people who were improperly prevented from voting by
Republican Secretary of State Katharine Harris had been allowed to cast their
votes, he would certainly have won by a safe margin.
to the unprecedented – and seemingly unconstitutional – decision by a partisan
majority of the Supreme Court – two of whom should have, by any standards,
recused themselves due to conflicts of interest – we never had the chance to
find out for sure. What we got instead
was eight years of Bush buffoonery, 9-11, the Iraq war and near economic
The Weaponization of Social
just about every high school student knows, Facebook, Twitter and the like can
be cruel places, but Donald Trump, his allies in the neo-Nazi alt-right
movement and the growing army of professional Russian trolls have taken things
to a whole new level. Cross them and you
Trump knows better than anyone, social media is also the perfect way to bypass
fact-checking and spread the most nonsensical conspiracy theories and drivel of
every sort unfiltered to his gullible followers.
almost every election, in state after state and at a national level,
significant majorities of Americans consistently vote for Democrats – yet
Republicans consistently gain large majorities in the House of Representatives
and many state houses.
Why? Extreme – and probably unconstitutional –
practice of adjusting the borders of electoral districts to favor one’s own
side has long been an unfortunate feature of American political life, but in
2010 the Republicans activated a brilliant scheme to give themselves vastly
more electoral power than their opponents.
Called Redmap, the first stage of the plan was to pour massive amounts
of money into elections for governorships and state legislatures in the year of
the census and then use that power to shamelessly (and scientifically) redraw
the districts in a way that had never been seen before.
result? A right-wing stranglehold on the
House and numerous state governments which has allowed unrestricted voter
suppression, gridlock in Washington, and an endless series of partisan witch
much for one man one vote!
Conspiracy to Undermine the
very night that Barak Obama was being inaugurated in 2009, a group of leading
Republican lawmakers and operatives gathered in a Washington DC restaurant and decided
that their priority would be to make him a one-term president by opposing and
obstructing him in absolutely everything he tried to do. Unfortunately for the country, they stuck to
this plan religiously throughout Obama’s entire eight years in office. Of course, they then turned around and blamed
all the suffering caused by their failure to go along with anything on the
Democrats – and huge numbers of people believed them.
as this effort did, so clearly against the interests of the American people,
another word for it might be treason.
Corruption of the FBI
since the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover have we seen such blatant and
unethical interference by the FBI into an American election as occurred this
Director James Comey’s unprecedented bad-mouthing of Hillary Clinton was bad
enough in July when he announced that she had been exonerated in the private
e-mail server non-scandal and then proceeded to do everything possible to
undermine her credibility.
beyond the pale, however, was his announcement ten days before the election
that new evidence was being examined in the case – leading to the obvious
assumption that it might be reopened – only to come back a week later, after
all the damage had been done, and let us know that there was absolutely nothing
there after all.
totally at odds with FBI policy.
course, Comey was not the only one causing trouble. After Comey’s bombshell, it
emerged that deranged Trump cheerleader-in-chief Rudy Guiliani was basically
able to use the New York FBI office as a tool of his dear leader’s
Money in Politics
influence of money in politics has always been a problem in the United States,
but the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs the FEC totally blew
the roof off on all attempts to impose any sensible limits.
seems that the only way now that you can be elected is to either prostitute
yourself to big money interests – or else to be one yourself like Donald
Trump. Either way, the interests of the
middle class, let alone the poor, are way, way down on the priority list.
The Cult of Trump
once famously said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not
lose any of his voters.
was probably right.
might not have shot anyone, but he was caught on tape bragging about being a
sexual predator, numerous shady business dealings were exposed, he was shown to
have defrauded customers and not paid his suppliers, he told one demonstrable
whopper after another on a daily basis, and it didn’t make a damn bit of
difference to his fanatical supporters.
those with a sense of history, his rallies were chilling affairs as he whipped
his followers into a frenzy and skilfully directed their rage against blacks,
immigrants, Muslims, the Clintons, the press, women he may well have assaulted,
and anyone else that happened to get under his skin that day.
Chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!”
filled the hall, protesters were roughed up and respected members of the press
had to have police protection.
hard to say if the whole scene reminds you more of cults of strongmen such as
Idi Amin or Vladimir Putin, the horrifying political/racial cult of Nazism, or
out-and-out pseudo-religious cults such as the Church as Scientology.
bottom line is that Trumpism shows all the signs of being a genuine cult.
the long run, this could lead to disastrous results, especially when something
doesn’t go the way the Donald wants and he urges his well-armed followers to
take matters into their own hands.
with the remotest interest in facts knows that Trump’s and the right-wing’s
claims of massive voter fraud – millions of individuals voting illegally – is
complete nonsense. A recent in-depth
university study found that out of almost one billion votes cast over a
ten-year period, only 31 actual cases of such voter fraud could be found.
fraud, on the other hand, is a whole different matter.
years investigative organizations such as the Election Defense Alliance and BlackBoxVoting.org
and academics such as Princeton
professor Andrew Appel have been warning about the relative ease of tampering
with many of the nation’s electronic voting machines and the tabulators which
compile the results. Numerous
demonstrations have shown that their fears are valid, especially if insiders
were to be involved.
voting systems are, in fact, considered so unreliable and subject to
manipulation that in 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany forbade
the use of computers to count the country’s votes, and ordered a return to the
hand counting of all ballots in front of citizen observers.
evidence suggests that there is good reason to be suspicious of the results of
any election in which the final results reported vary greatly from the polls,
especially the normally reliable exit polls.
This is the standard the U.S. government itself recommends for
evaluating if an overseas election might be fraudulent.
which party has benefited from these statistical discrepancies here at
home? Surprise, surprise, it always somehow
seems to be the Republicans - and 2016 was no different. In the words of election integrity expert
Theodore de Macado Soares:
to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research, Clinton won four key
battleground states (NC, PA, WI, and FL) in the 2016 presidential election that
she went on to lose in the computerized vote counts. With these states Clinton
wins the Electoral College with a count of 302 versus 205 for Trump. Clinton
also won the national exit poll by 3.2% and holds a narrow lead in the national
vote count still in progress.
polls were conducted in 28 states. In 23 states the discrepancies between the
exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of these states the
discrepancies favoring Trump exceeded the margin of error of the state.”
can we state with certainty that Clinton’s loss was due to deliberate tampering
with the voting systems in key areas?
answer is no. That would take a serious
investigation by the FBI…but they seem to have been too busy looking into Secretary
Clinton’s e-mail server to be bothered by such a trifling matter as the basic
integrity of our national elections.
tampering with the tallies produced by electronic voting machines might be the
holy grail of Republican efforts to prevent demographic realities from
consigning them to the dustbin of history, but, so far at least, we have only
circumstantial evidence that this has actually been happening.
a faint glimmer of hope has been given to us by Green Party presidential candidate
Jill Stein’s call for a recount/audit in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan
and Pennsylvania, and the massive public support it has received.
to say, the Republican authorities in these states have already started doing
everything they can to shut down or stymie the effort. As of the writing of this article, Wisconsin
has just more than tripled the fee they will charge the Greens from $1 million
to $3.5 million, and it is likely to go higher.
they are trying to arrange the recount so that it will be nothing more than
running the same data through the same tabulators again in exactly the same
fashion. Of course, this will tell us nothing - and
that is, no doubt, the intention. Rather
than this, what is essential is a full manual recount of all votes available in
any way on paper, and an in-depth forensic analysis by top-level impartial
specialists of the voting machines and tabulators themselves, along with their
Greens are trying to make this happen, but it is by no means certain they will
us pray that they do.
the possible exception of the Trump cult, the conspiratorial elements listed
above are not particularly new. Some of
them even go back decades or more.
2016 election did, however, bring us an entirely new phenomenon, one that might
be the most disturbing of them all.
refer, of course, to the likely involvement of a hostile foreign power in an
organized attempt to undermine and influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential
efforts are nothing new for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Back in the Soviet Union days, interfering in
the elections of countries where there was some sort of communist – capitalist
struggle going on was said to be a standard practice in the KGB playbook (as it
also was, to be fair, in that of the CIA). In more recent years, the regime of ex KGB
officer Putin is believed to have become increasingly active in this area,
particularly in the realm of cyberspace.
and the Wall Street Journal have reported on Russian cyber-attacks on the 2012
election in Georgia and 2014 one in Ukraine.
The Washington Post reported that Russia has conducted operations aimed
at disrupting U.S. alliances and others designed to influence elections in
Latvia, Greece, Italy and France with the apparent aims of discrediting the
democratic systems of Western countries and creating the illusion of a moral
equivalence between them and Russia’s own authoritarian and corrupt system.
is now well-known, U.S. intelligence is virtually certain that it was Russian
players operating under Putin’s orders who hacked the e-mail accounts of the
DNC, Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta and others and passed on damaging
material to Wikileaks to be released at the worst possible times in an attempt
to derail the Clinton campaign and increase the chances of Putin BFF Donald
Trump winning the election.
of the nasty, anti-Clinton troll campaign was also believed to have been
carried out by paid Russian operatives and strong evidence exists that the
Russians attempted to – and perhaps succeeded in – hacking the voter
registration systems of several states and the computers of at least one major
electronic voting machine manufacturer.
true, either of these activities could have provided the Trump supporting
Russians with a way to tamper with the actual vote count in his favour. This possibility is one of the main reasons
why the Green Party and their supporters are so adamant that any recounts must
be done by hand, rather than with the same potentially corrupted equipment.
implications of all this are staggering.
even a part of the theories put forward above are true, there is every chance
that the person who was declared the winner of our 2016 election is not a
legitimate president-elect, but a usurper.
usurper who got where he is not just because of his own extraordinary skill as
a con-man – perhaps the best in history – but through a long-term and carefully
crafted and executed plan to subvert American democracy carried out by a group
of right-wing zealots now aided and abetted by the government of a hostile
this doesn’t qualify as a conspiracy, I can’t imagine what does.
By David Jay Morris
December 1, 2016
About the author: Now
semi-retired, long-time believer in progressive causes David Jay Morris is a
former international news editor and columnist for the Guam Daily Post and has
worked for the New York Daily News and Long Island Business Review. Holding British-American dual nationality, he
now lives in the UK with his wife, cat and three dogs and works part-time as a
teacher, Japanese – English translator and editor.