Have Conservatives Finally Become Irredeemable?

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Godzilla and the sheepIn the past, whenever I read news about any conservative leader, party or government — small-c conservative, including the Canadian federal and provincial Conservative parties, the American Repugnicans, and the British Tories — I always have to ask myself, “Can they get any more corrupt than this?” Then I ask, “Can they be any more dishonest?” And then “Can they be any more batshit crazy?” And every time I look further, they surprise me by scraping the metaphorical barrel deeper, diving to new depths of ignorance, unethical behaviour, corruption, cronyism, pathological lying, and incompetence.

Nowadays when I venture into the shrill sensationalism of traditional or social media, where conservatives and their utterances are featured I end up asking myself “Is there anything left of their humanity? Have they completely given in to far-right ideology, to racism, nationalism, misogyny, pseudoscience, conspiracies, blind loyalty, and pseudo-Christian Talibangelism?”

Sadly, the answer to the former seems “No!” and to the latter, “Yes!” Conservatives worldwide have moved to the far, totalitarian right in lockstep with their Putinesque leaders. Only in the unlikely event that they throw off the yokes of these fascist-wannabes will those supporters even be able to resurface from the deep pool of despicableness and inhumanity they’ve sunk themselves within. Irredeemable? Perhaps. It’s difficult to see how they can extricate themselves, being handcuffed to their leaders whose motives and agendas only drag them down further into the inhumane muck.

If you think it mere hyperbole to call Trump and wannabes like PoiLIEvre and Stephen Harper fascist, consider what Jason Stanley,  author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, said in an NPR interview in 2020, shortly after Trump lost the election:

…fascism is a cult of the leader who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by minorities, liberals and immigrants. He represents the cities as corrupt, filled with foreigners and disease, and the heartland as the true nation that he represents. And then he takes over a political party, transforms them into a cult of the leader and says only he can deal with the problem.
The heart of fascist politics is the destruction of truth. Fascist politics is based on a friend/enemy distinction where your enemy’s not a legitimate opponent. Your enemy is hiding terrible crimes, and you can’t treat them as any kind of normal opponent. And this is the purpose of conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Jeff and his followers

Can anyone not see modern conservative parties in that description? If you can’t, then you’re not looking. In his book, Stanley wrote: “Fascist politics includes many distinct strategies: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity… In the United States today, Republican politicians employ these strategies with more and more frequency. Their increasing tendency to engage in this politics should give honest conservatives pause.”

“Honest conservatives” seems an oxymoron in the age of Trump.

Why, I wonder, are these supporters so blind to what the rest of the world can see? What sort of person with even a shred of decency left in them would willingly accept the outright lies instead of policies, the insults and accusations instead of solutions, the brazenly broken election promises, the blatant grifts that benefit themselves and their cronies but hurt the populace, the outright nepotism and cronyism, the fake victimization, the dog whistles and gaslighting, the deliberate rage farming, the gobsmackingly unbelievable conspiracies, the attacks on science, education, bureaucrats, veterans, and medical experts?

What sort of person looks at 91 felony charges against a presidential candidate and still believes he’s the best person to run the country? What sort of person looks at a huckster with a long history of business cons, failures, and frauds, now selling supremely tacky running shoes, and thinks he’s the most honest person to run the country? What sort of person looks at a self-confessed abuser of women, who boasts about removing their rights, and thinks he’s the best man to oversee their rights?

What sort of person looks at a criminal convicted of fraud, and defamation, and ordered to pay hundreds of millions in penalties and fines, and thinks he’s the most moral and ethical to run a country? What sort of person looks at a candidate who promised violent revenge and retribution on opponents, threatened “death and destruction” on prosecutors and judges for being indicted, promised to invade a neighbouring country, jail the homeless, escalate the death penalty, increase taxes on all but the wealthy, stiff his nation’s long-time allies to aid a foreign dictator, make pollution worse to deliberately ruin the environment, force schools to teach his ideology, shut down dissenting media, pardon convicted Jan 6 criminals, fire tens of thousands of civil servants, and build cities with flying cars, and still think he’s going to make life better for Americans?

Putin's puppetWhat sort of person listens to a man who has praised Hitler, and used Hitler’s own words in a speech about eliminating his opponents, calling them “vermin,” and still thinks he’s going to be good for the country?*

What sort of person hears Trump lie for the thousandth or more time about the 2020 election being stolen from him,  and falsely claiming election fraud, despite mountains of proof to the contrary, despite Trump losing more than 60 court challenges over it, and knowing that the Big Lie incited Trump’s followers to storm the US Capitol in an attempt to violently overthrow the government, and not see the parallels with Hitler’s 1923 putsch? Is it possible they don’t care? That seems increasingly likely.

What sort of a person looks at a grifter who isn’t even the official party nominee demanding his political party pay his legal fees and fines for criminal charges and convictions related to his private business frauds, and think he’s the best person to run a country’s finances and economy?

What sort of person looks at images of children separated from parents and being held in cages on the border and thinks the president behind this barbarity should be re-elected?

What sort of Canadian looks at his party’s leader who approves when his MPS wine, dine, and have photo ops taken with an avowed neo-Nazi, and thinks that leader is the best choice for prime minister? What sort of Canadian looks at his party’s leader marching with an avowed far-right extremist who broadcast calls to “bring down the government” online, and thinks a leader who unapologetically associates with such people is suited to be prime minister?

What sort of Canadian sees a CONservative MP promote a petition for Canada to withdraw from the United Nations and from the World Health Organization, while the party leader remains silent on this overt attempt by a sitting MP to further Putin’s goals, and still wants him to become prime minister? (Lewis is one of the CONservative MPs who also wined and dined with an avowed neo-Nazi)

What sort of person accepts the egregious lies that spew from their leader’s mouth — a daily occurrence from PoiLIEvre and his mentor, Trump, but distressingly frequent from lower-tier cons like Danielle Smith and Doug Ford — without even the pretense of fact-checking or verification? When did honesty become a negative virtue for conservatives? **

But yet there they are on both sides of the border: convoys of conspiracy-addled, Talibangelist-incited insurrectionists occupying Ottawa; armies of Trump-addled, Talibangelist-incited insurrectionists trying to overthrow the legal government in Washington; puerile drivers with Fuck Biden and Fuck Trudeau stickers on their cars; protestors waving swastika and Confederate flags, Talibangelists preaching racial hate and violence from their pulpits, neo-Nazis marching in the streets, anti-science anti-vaxxers harassing nurses and doctors and spreading false information online.
Trump is a Russian asset
It’s difficult not to believe these supporters are willfully stupid, deliberately blind to facts, and monumentally gullible. But maybe they are well aware of their leader’s negative views about democracy. Maybe theyr are helping deliberately push Putin’s agenda to destabilize democracy so their leaders can install a dictatorship. because that will certainly come if Trump is elected, and likely with PoiLIEvre.

Certainly, the real winner is these culture wars is Putin. Russian troll farms have been loud and voracious in attacking every non-conservative party, commentator, and candidate, and have interfered in elections in democracies worldwide. They’re still spreading anti-Ukraine lies and hatred online. Who else but Putin’s puppets would pursue his agenda so eagerly? Yet none seem aware that Putin will not treat them as friends for their efforts because Putin “detests and takes advantage of weakness. He uses those he can use and disposes of them when they are done.” As the scorpion said the the frog after stinging him, “I couldn’t resist the urge. It’s my character.”

Author David Rothkopf has recently written in The Daily Beast that,

It is time to move beyond the political spin offered by GOP propagandists and Internet trolls and acknowledge that Trump and the MAGA movement are today active assets of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, as essential to Russia’s future global ambitions as that country’s own armed forces…
After more than eight years of compiling evidence that demonstrates Russia’s efforts to co-opt the American right is perhaps the most successful intelligence operation of our time…
In the past two weeks alone, there has been the evidence that the core of the GOP sham impeachment effort against President Biden turned on the testimony of a man with ties to Russian intelligence; Trump’s invitation to Putin to do “whatever the hell he wants” with Europe; the MAGA right’s decision to postpone further even considering aid to Ukraine; Tucker Carlson’s jaunt to Moscow to amplify the Kremlin’s lies about itself; the refusal of Trump to condemn the murder of Alexei Navalny in Russian prison; and the arrest of yet another American for no good reason in Russia.

Rothkopf adds that Putin has coopted Congresspeople “who have accepted Russian-linked aid (like Johnson)” and pointed to “Trump’s plans to exit NATO, active support for other Putin allies like Viktor Orbán, weakening U.S. institutions, embrace of Putin’s ethno-nationalist ideology, the Russian infiltration of the NRA, pilgrimages by Trump-linked and GOP leaders to pay homage to Putin, and even a Russian-linked operative working atop the FBI’s counter-intelligence division.” And despite all of this being presented in the media, despite the threat he poses to their own way of life, Trump’s supporters are still rabidly behind him. How can such deliberate ignorance ever be redeemed?

Even the Der-Sturmer-wannabe National Post warned about Russian trolls spreading disinformation and lies in Canada:

Russian-sponsored disinformation is trying to exploit one of Canada’s most divisive issues to shape opinions here about its invasion of Ukraine, says a top Global Affairs Canada expert on the topic.
Using troll farms that post on Facebook and other social media sites, the campaigns often target the minority of Canadians opposed to COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates, and others deeply distrustful of government, said Philippe-André Rodriguez, deputy director of the department’s Centre for International Digital Policy.

And who is that “minority” of disaffected, suspicious, conspiracy-addled Canadians? PoiLIEvre’s far-right supporters and convoy insurrectionists (whom he loudly praised during the occupation). And which party voted against aid for Ukraine under invasion by Russia? PoiLIEvre’s CONservative Party. Which party didn’t want the committee to investigate Russian interference in our politics and elections even though CSIS identified Russia as one of two states “that attempt to influence ‘decisions, events and elections ‘for their own benefit'”? Right again: PoiLIEvre’s CONservative Party. Which party leader refuses to get his security clearance which could expose any connections to foreign governments? Pierre PoiLIEvre. Sure smells like collusion to me.

CCCP employee of the month: Tucker CarslonI’m not suggesting small-l liberals don’t ever lie, but generally, liberals consider honesty better than dishonesty, that facts matter, and that ethics and morality are important attributes. Besides, they lack the open cesspools of lies, conspiracies, fear, and propaganda like Breitbart,  the pro-Putin Tucker Carlson, and oleaginous Rebel Media that help further Putin’s agenda by fuelling the conservative rage and conspiracies.

I’ve watched historical scenes of the Brownshirts marching in Germany in the 1930s and the Nazi rally filmed in Triumph of the Will. How did we come to this parallel today? How did we come to emulate that awful time? Why can’t these conservative followers see where they’re being led? Or maybe they can and that’s exactly where they want to go: into the maw of a totalitarian, post-truth state. Are they not aware of what they will lose should that happen? And how quickly they will lose their freedom?***

In her seminal work, The Origins of Totalitarianism (p474), Hannah Arendt wrote,

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.

And that ability to distinguish fact from fiction seems evident with both Trump’s and PoiLIEvre’s followers. In his book,  The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, author Michiko Kakutani wrote that Arendt’s words “sound less like a dispatch from another century than a chilling mirror of the political and cultural landscape we inhabit today — a world in which fake news and lies are pumped out in industrial volume.” The Rand Corporation called it truth-decay” ” an increasing disagreement about objective facts…[and] the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life.” When did openly and consistently lying become a desirable attribute for a politician? When did honesty become so unpopular?

A piece by Josh Jones about authoritarian culture on Open Culture is titled, “Hannah Arendt Explains How Propaganda Uses Lies to Erode All Truth & Morality: Insights from The Origins of Totalitarianism.” It notes:

Why the constant, often blatant lying? For one thing, it functioned as a means of fully dominating subordinates, who would have to cast aside all their integrity to repeat outrageous falsehoods and would then be bound to the leader by shame and complicity. “The great analysts of truth and language in politics”—writes McGill University political philosophy professor Jacob T. Levy—including “George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Vaclav Havel—can help us recognize this kind of lie for what it is.… Saying something obviously untrue, and making your subordinates repeat it with a straight face in their own voice, is a particularly startling display of power over them. It’s something that was endemic to totalitarianism.”

It’s not merely single lies that authoritarian politicians like Trump and PoiLIEvre spout: they exude an avalanche of lies, one after another, each one building on the last, repeating lies to reinforce them.  As Jones wrote:

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.

Arendt also wrote what might be her most Orwellian statement:

The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.****

This brings to mind tyrannical Repugnican state laws like those in Florida banning books, outlawing teaching history and arresting librarians and teachers for daring to use their Constitutional right of free speech to do otherwise. The CONservative policies in Alberta and Ontario of funding religious, charter, and private schools with public money, while underfunding the public system, and promoting homeschooling, lead in the same direction. Canada also has its share of Talibangelist-backed book banning.

Authoritarians always fare better with uneducated and illiterate masses deprived of the necessary tools for critical thinking and analyses of their lies. In her book, The Human Condition, Arendt commented it is “far easier to act under conditions of tyranny than it is to think.”

Arendt, writing in the 1950s, looked at the rise of dictatorial regimes in the USSR, Germany, and Italy during the 1930s and ’40s, and the tactics of their leaders, all of whom blatantly and egregiously lied to their followers, just as Trump and PoiLIEvre do daily now. Arendt concluded the leaders fostered a “mixture of gullibility and cynicism with which each member… is expected to react to the changing lying statements of the leaders.” Gullibility, I suggest, is even higher among rightwing followers these days thanks to the firehose of disinformation and conspiracy twaddle spewed in an unending stream of rage-farming falsehoods by far-right propaganda sources like Fox Newz, Rebel Media, InfoWars and qAnon. Followers lacking any ability for critical thinking easily fall prey to the constant propaganda.

As Arendt also wrote:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

Similarly, today his followers praise Donald Trump for being intelligent — because, of course, he obsessively tells them he is, therefore it must be true despite all evidence pointing to him having at best an average IQ (some claim it is lower than average), a goldfish-short attention span, an inability (or refusal) to read, a low-grade reading and comprehensive level when he does manage it; at best a grade-4 vocabulary, serious cognitive issues, and the inability when speaking to express a coherent thought or follow a simple script. And that doesn’t even touch on his spouting of wild lies, untruths, and simply wacky pseudoscience notions, let alone his adultery, sexual abuse crimes, fraud, and utter lack of morality.

Yet there he is, a man without a shred of decency, a moral compass, or even the pretense of interest in anything but his own wealth: the top candidate for the Repugnican Party. And in Canada, the CONservative party and its leader bend over backwards to emulate Trump and his MAGA movement to destroy America’s democracy.

Are conservatives irredeemably lost to the fascist side of their parties? Lost their humanity so thoroughly it can no longer be seen? Fallen prey to the firehose of propaganda and disinformation sprayed by their leaders, the Talibangelists, and the pet media? If they continue to cling to dishonest, corrupt, lying leaders, I’d say yes.

Remember: #NeverVoteConservative. Democracy and your freedom depend on it.


Notes

* Trump’s own words, repeated on his social media platform, [Un]Truth Social, were, “…we pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.” in 2018, Trump commented to his chief of staff, John Kelly, “Hitler did a lot of good things.”

Trump and his Trumpette

** It is often perspicaciously noted on social media that every one of Trump’s and PoiLIEvre’s accusations and lies is really a confession. A standard tactic of the rightwing is to accuse your opponents of doing what you yourself are guilty of. An article in the Tyee, April 2023, noted, ” Conservatives stole from Trump’s playbook. And the risks it poses for the party and Canada… no matter what he and his allies will say publicly, Poilievre’s direction for the Conservatives clearly was inspired by Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again movement… He’s employed many Trumpian tactics, including attacking the media and a nebulous class of “gatekeepers,” exploiting social media’s honeycomb of echo chambers, darkly characterizing the nation as “broken” and demonizing Trudeau the way the MAGA wing of the GOP villainized Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.”

*** Hitler, the most obvious historical leader model for both Trump and PoiLIEvre, was elected into office. He was appointed Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. A presidential decree in late February prohibited freedom of expression and allowed police to arbitrarily search houses and arrest people. Political opponents were outlawed. In mid-March, opposition parties were officially banned and more than 10,000 were arrested. At the end of March, the Reichstag passed the ‘Enabling Act’ allowing Hitler to enact new laws without interference. All other existing political parties were banned. Trade unions were disbanded to prevent workers from organizing any opposition. Opponents and anyone considered hostile to the state (including Jews) were “cleansed” from jobs, businesses, and government positions. Within six months of Hitler being appointed Chancellor, Germany was a single-party state. This is what is in store for the USA if Trump is re-elected. Pierre (who also used the name Jeff) PoiLIEvre mimics every Trump move and if elected Prime Minister will attempt to do the same sort of destruction of democracy here.
As Arendt wrote, “Totalitarianism differs essentially from other forms of political oppression. . . . Wherever it rose to power, it destroyed all social, legal, and political traditions of the country.” That’s the world these conservative leaders want — and intend — to implement.

**** Susan Sontag, in a 1975 book review titled “Fascinating Fascism,” wrote what could be a description of a modern Trump rally:

Fascist aesthetics … flow from (and justify) a preoccupation with situations of control, submissive behavior, extravagant effort, and the endurance of pain; they endorse two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication or replication of things; and the grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader-figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets, uniformly garbed and shown in ever swelling numbers… In both fascist and communist politics, the will is staged publicly, in the drama of the leader and the chorus.

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13 Comments

  1. I also wanted to point out Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here, which the Guardian called “eerily prescient.” It’s about how a narcissistic demagogue runs for the presidency on a platform to make the USA “proud and prosperous again” (sound familiar?) and wins the election. And almost immediately turns the nation into a mirror of the then-Nazi Germany. One of the reasons the populace didn’t see the menace coming was because the candidate, Buzz Windrip, was “seemingly different from the fervent Hitlers and gesticulating Fascists and Caesars with laurels round bald domes…” (chap. 16). But Trump has gone past that: he adorns his rallies with the same sort of symbols and icons of the Nazis, so that the parallels are made clear and no one can say later they didn’t know that was his intention.

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sinclair_Lewis#It_Can't_Happen_Here_(1935)
    “Under a tyranny, most friends are a liability. One quarter of them turn “reasonable” and become your enemies, one quarter are afraid to speak, and one quarter are killed and you die with them. But the blessed final quarter keep you alive.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/books/review/classic-novel-that-predicted-trump-sinclar-lewis-it-cant-happen-here.html
    Reading the Classic Novel That Predicted Trump
    At a moment when instability seems to be the only constant in American politics, “It Can’t Happen Here” offers an alluring (if terrifying) certainty: It can happen here, and what comes next will be even ghastlier than you expect. Yet the graphic horrors of Lewis’s vision also limit the book’s usefulness as a guide to our own political moment. In 1935, Lewis was trying to prevent the unthinkable: the election of a pseudo-fascist candidate to the presidency of the United States. Today’s readers, by contrast, are playing catch-up, scrambling to think through the implications of an electoral fait accompli. If Lewis’s postelection vision is what awaits us, there will be little cause for hope, or even civic engagement, in the months ahead. The only viable options will be to get out of the country — or to join an armed underground resistance.
    We have already experienced some of what Lewis describes in the first third of the book: a blustery populist candidate rising, against all odds, to the presidency of the United States. Now the great question is whether or not we are moving into Lewis’s terrifying future.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/shortcuts/2016/oct/09/it-cant-happen-here-1935-novel-sinclair-lewis-predicted-rise-donald-trump

    The 1935 novel that predicted the rise of Donald Trump
    Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here features an antihero who whips up support among angry voters on the back of firebrand rhetoric, fearmongering populism and anti-Mexican sentiment. Sound familiar?

    Windrip unveils his 15-point manifesto, which includes “prison or the death penalty” for anyone advocating communism and the recognition of Jews as “fully Americanised”, so long as they continue to support “our ideals”. Substitute “Muslim” for “communist” and “Hispanic” for “Jew” and there emerges an uncomfortable picture of what is taking place in the US today.

    Windrip wins the election. He orders the invasion of Mexico, after which his victorious militia returns singing When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Political opponents are herded into concentration camps, while a flood of refugees flee across the border to Canada.

    Well worth reading, and re-reading. It can happen here, and in fact is happening right now: the fascists are rising.

  2. https://www.alternet.org/alternet-exclusives/end-of-democracy/
    Conservatives aren’t even hiding it anymore in call for an ‘end to democracy’

    At the CPAC meeting this week, a well-known rightwing influencer, Jack Posobiec, went off on a rant about how important it is for conservatives to band together to end democracy in America and, presumably, replace it with Christofascism like in Russia. “Welcome to the end of democracy!” he declared. “We’re here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on January 6th, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this right here,” he said as he held up a cross. “That’s right, because all glory is not to government, all glory to God.”

    The solution, dictated back in the late 1700s by British conservative Edmund Burke, was to gut the middle class and return to the “normal” social form of a small number of really rich people at the top, a tiny middle class of doctors, lawyers, and professionals who served the morbidly rich, and a massive class of the working poor. This was the world Charles Dickens wrote about in almost all of his novels, and, when the 1960s happened and women, students, and minorities rose up in protest, became the world that Reaganomics was established to return us to. Gutting the middle class, eliminating the social safety net, and “restoring order” to society is still the conservative mantra, now heavily overlaid with rightwing Christian ideology. So Posobiec’s proclamation that it’s time to replace democracy with strongman authoritarianism should surprise exactly nobody

    This is in the USA, but it’s happening here in Canada, too, with PoiLIEvre and his followers.

  3. https://newrepublic.com/post/174950/christianity-today-editor-evangelicals-call-jesus-liberal-weak
    Christianity Today Editor: Evangelicals Call Jesus “Liberal” and “Weak”
    A former evangelical leader is sounding the alarm about the direction his religion is headed in.
    Moore told NPR in an interview released Tuesday that multiple pastors had told him they would quote the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the part that says to “turn the other cheek,” when preaching. Someone would come up after the service and ask, “Where did you get those liberal talking points?”
    “What was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, ‘I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,’ the response would not be, ‘I apologize.’ The response would be, ‘Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak,’” Moore said. “When we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we’re in a crisis.”
    Moore said he thinks a large part of the issue is how divisive U.S. politics are, which is now spilling over into the church. He pointed to how a lot of issues are “packaged in terms of existential threat,” leading to the belief among everyone, not just evangelical Christians, that “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

    It makes sense, then, that evangelical Christians would embrace Trump, who portrayed himself as the answer to many of those supposed existential threats. Trump both campaigned and governed on a largely evangelical Christian platform. He moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he cracked down on immigration from majority-Muslim countries; and he appointed multiple conservative judges, including to the Supreme Court, which has swung sharply right.

    And as Trump swings ever further right, it makes sense that people who believe he will solve their problems will follow blindly.

  4. https://marytrump.substack.com/p/donalds-daily-nightmare
    As Mary Trump writes:
    Donald Trump is an authoritarian wannabe who incited an insurrection against his own country, who is using the weaknesses inherent in our democratic system to get back into power so he, along with his enablers, can end democracy.

    Donald has openly committed many crimes against our country — from voter fraud, to election interference, to stealing top secret, highly sensitive classified documents, to inciting an insurrection — but not only has he not yet been held accountable, he is running to be president of the country he seeks to destroy.

    And he’s doing so 1) to stay out of prison; 2) to get out from under any judgments against him; and 3) because he is beholden to at least one hostile foreign power — Russia.

  5. from Jason Stanely’s book, How Fascism Works:

    The most telling symptom of fascist politics is division. It aims to separate a population into an “us” and a “them.” Many kinds of political movements involve such a division; for example, Communist politics weaponizes class divisions. Giving a description of fascist politics involves describing the very specific way that fascist politics distinguishes “us” from “them,” appealing to ethnic, religious, or racial distinctions, and using this division to shape ideology and, ultimately, policy.

    Every mechanism of fascist politics works to create or solidify this distinction. Fascist politicians justify their ideas by breaking down a common sense of history in creating a mythic past to support their vision for the present. They rewrite the population’s shared understanding of reality by twisting the language of ideals through propaganda and promoting anti-intellectualism, attacking universities and educational systems that might challenge their ideas. Eventually, with these techniques, fascist politics creates a state of unreality, in which conspiracy theories and fake news replace reasoned debate.

    As the common understanding of reality crumbles, fascist politics makes room for dangerous and false beliefs to take root. First, fascist ideology seeks to naturalize group difference, thereby giving the appearance of natural, scientific support for a hierarchy of human worth. When social rankings and divisions solidify, fear fills in for understanding between groups. Any progress for a minority group stokes feelings of victimhood among the dominant population. Law and order politics has mass appeal, casting “us” as lawful citizens and “them,” by contrast, as lawless criminals whose behavior poses an existential threat to the manhood of the nation. Sexual anxiety is also typical of fascist politics as the patriarchal hierarchy is threatened by growing gender equity.

    As the fear of “them” grows, “we” come to represent everything virtuous. “We” live in the rural heartland, where the pure values and traditions of the nation still miraculously exist despite the threat of cosmopolitanism from the nation’s cities, alongside the hordes of minorities who live there, emboldened by liberal tolerance. “We” are hardworking, and have earned our pride of place by struggle and merit. “They” are lazy, surviving off the goods we produce by exploiting the generosity of our welfare systems, or employing corrupt institutions, such as labor unions, meant to separate honest, hardworking citizens from their pay. “We” are makers; “they” are takers.

    Sure sounds like Trump’s MAGA and PoiLIEvre’s MAGA-wannabe methods…

  6. from Xitter today:
    “Melissa Lantsman just RANTED in the HOC that the “Radical Minister of the Environment” says he wants to ban roads, ban cars and ban kitchen stoves and is going to increase taxes 23% on April 1st. Even the parody shows can’t make up this level of craziness and LIES.”

    The disturbing part is that the CONservatve gullibles and convoy wingnuts will believe her no matter how much she lies. And there are a *lot* of gullibles in the party.

  7. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/posobiec-democracy-cpac-january-6-b2501566.html
    Far-right influencer calls for ‘end of democracy’ at CPAC as Republicans downplay January 6
    Jack Posobiec stated he wants to ‘overthrow it completely’ as panelists hit back at prosecutors for January 6 crimes
    Far-right activist and prominent “Pizzagate” influencer Jack Posobiec hailed the “end of democracy” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where prominent Republicans and GOP officials trotted out January 6 conspiracy theories and downplayed the attack on the US Capitol to overturn 2020’s election results.

    “Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely,” Posobiec said during a panel moderated by former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon on Thursday.

    “We didn’t get all the way there on January 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this, right here,” he added.

  8. https://marytrump.substack.com/p/mike-johnsons-russian-funder
    Mike Johnson’s Russian Funder
    Mike Johnson is blocking the Ukraine bill. Despite the Pentagon’s urging that the $60 billion Ukraine aid package is critically important to Kyiv’s chances of successfully resisting Putin’s invasion, it is currently gathering dust on Mike Johnson’s desk. The new Speaker continues to thwart Ukraine aid, despite strong bipartisan criticism:.

    In 2018, Johnson received campaign contributions from “American Ethane” company, 88% of which was owned by three Russian nationals: Konstantin Nikolaev, Mikhail Yuriev, and Andrey Kunatbaev. Johnson received at least three checks from the company. Why does that matter?
    At least one of the Russian partners, oligarch Nikolaev, had deep ties to Putin.

    Further, reports indicate Nikolaev funded Russian national Maria Butina, who was deported back to Russia after spending 15 months in U.S. penitentiaries for acting as a Russian foreign agent, cozying up to Republicans in order to shape U.S. policy.
    In addition to being part owner of Globaltrans, which according to Newsweek is Russia’s largest private rail operation, Nikolaev is also part owner of the Tula Cartridge Plant, a company “which has been supplying ammunition to Russian forces during its invasion of Ukraine.”
    What a remarkable coincidence.

  9. https://www.richardjevans.com/publications/third-reich-power/
    The Third Reich in Power, by Richard Evans
    This second book in Evans’ magisterial trilogy is perhaps the best book to explain what Trump would do in power (and likely PoiLIEvre) to consolidate his authority and eliminate any opposition. The Nazis systematically went after opponents, the media, the churches, the unions, the youth organizations, the civil service, the schools, the universities, the army, and the police, replacing them with their own supporters and organizations, or, if not possible, forcing them to bend to the ideology and its leader, as they did with the army.
    This is the blueprint for like under a second Trump presidency.
    “Evans examines how it was possible for a group of ideological obsessives to remould a society famous for its sophistication and complexity into a one-party state directed purely at war and race hate. He shows how the Nazis won over the hearts and minds of German citizens, twisted science, religion and culture, and transformed the economy, education, law and order to achieve total dominance in German politics and society. ”

    https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/richard-j-evans/the-third-reich-in-power/
    From Kirkus Reviews: “A superb account of the growth and day-to-day functioning of the Nazi state.”

  10. Trump to Meet Next Week With Orban, Hungary’s Leader
    The former president has long been aligned with Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, who has built ties to the conservative movement in the United States.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/28/us/politics/trump-viktor-orban-hungary.html
    Like Canada’s Stephen Harper, Trump is childishly impressed by actual rightwing dictators and fawns all over them when they meet.

    https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/february-29-2024

    Last night, Maggie Haberman and Andrew Higgins of the New York Times reported that Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has undermined democracy in Hungary, will visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago next week as Trump scrambles to find the more than half a billion dollars he needs to pay the fines and penalties courts have ordered. “We cannot interfere in other countries’ elections,” Orbán said last week, “but we would very much like to see President Donald Trump return to the White House.”

  11. https://theracket.news/p/short-sad-little-men
    Last week, I wrote about the ironically international (global-ist?) brand of authoritarianism on display at the Conservative Political Action Conference, long one of the most influential annual national events on the American right. It’s also worth noting a story that is passing under the radar right now: the actual Nazis who were in attendance.

    The presence of self-identified National Socialists, “groypers,” and other white supremacists has been an embarrassment to the conference’s organizer, Matt Schlapp, who is already reeling from reports that general attendance at the conservative super-event was lower than in the past. It’s been less of a political cost to the conference’s headliner, Donald Trump — thanks to a combination of learned obsequience and studied incuriosity on the part of the national press.

    But we don’t have to play that game here. Having self-identified Nazis in attendance at a major campaign event of a former and would-be next president—an event at which he promised a “Judgment Day” for his political enemies, defended his attempted coup, and threatened, once again, to carry out “the largest deportation in the history of our country”—should be a much bigger story than it is.

  12. https://www.tvo.org/article/partisan-judicial-appointments-could-be-yet-another-threat-to-democracy-in-ontario
    Partisan judicial appointments could be yet another threat to democracy in Ontario
    OPINION: The Tories’ ideological approach to judicial appointments will put public trust in the legal system at risk

    Last week, Doug Ford admitted to politicizing Ontario’s judicial-appointments process. When asked about the recent naming of two former staffers to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee — both of whom are also registered lobbyists — he defended the move as consistent with his party’s ideological and policy goals and with the principles of democracy, saying his PC government was elected “to get like-minded people in appointments.” But his cynical exercise of executive power is anything but normal: it’s a threat to democracy and to the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

    “I’m not going to appoint some NDP or some Liberal,” Ford said in defence of his decision, though he didn’t define precisely what “some NDP or some Liberal” meant — a card-carrying member? A voter? A donor?

    The premier is concerned that non-partisan judges wouldn’t be sufficiently tough on crime and, by implication, is convinced that Tory judges would be. He says he’s looking, with “every single appointment,” for “tough judges, tough JPs to keep guys in jail.” He also complained that current judges and justices of the peace are “letting criminals out.”

    As the Toronto Star reported Monday, the Advocates’ Society — a national organization of courtroom lawyers — wrote a letter to Ford in which it argued that the premier’s comments and his approach to appointments “pose a substantial threat to the independence of Ontario’s judges from the government and to public confidence in the administration of justice in this province.”

    In case anyone thinks Ford misspoke: on Tuesday, he said his government would “triple down on getting judges that believe in throwing someone in jail.”

    Ford’s defence is that ideological appointments are “part of democracy,” since voters “voted a party in.” His government has a long history of questionable partisan appointments, so the move isn’t surprising. But let’s set that history aside for a moment to understand why partisan judicial appointments, in particular, are so dangerous.

    Ontarians likely expect governments to appoint judges who are qualified and impartial. I also imagine, however, that many would understand those same governments appointing judges who broadly adhere to their principles and the principles of the liberal democratic state. That happens, including federally across party lines.

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