Disinfectant Don & the Magically Downsizing Democracy
(Graphic: Brian Covert / Photos: 20th Century Fox, AP)
A half-year after the greatest crime against the USA that the universe has never seen — to borrow a Trumpish superlative — it bears looking closely at what has been happening since the 6 January 2021 failed coup attempt sparked by the former president of the United States and the inauguration of the legitimately elected president, Joe Biden, not long afterward.
In short, a downsizing of democracy is now underway that does not bode well for the future.
It is a downsizing that aims for a democratic system where one size fits all. All white people, that is, and all others will just have to be satisfied with the leftover crumbs. Forget diversity and history: Downsizing a democratic system into something that gives white people back their so-called lost power, relieves their burdens and guilt, and reaffirms their sense of entitlement — that is effectively what Donald Trump and his political minions are after. And in some ways so far, they are unfortunately succeeding.
Trump has retired to his offshore island paradise in Florida, of course, and is said to be fitting in well with all the other slimy swamp creatures there. He has fashioned himself into a Don Corleone godfather-type character who rarely leaves his Mar a Lago resort to face real human beings and instead receives a long line of well-wishers, supporters and other syncophants who flatter and praise him on still being president. In return, he makes them offers they can’t refuse.
The Big Lie that Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election and Biden actually lost continues to resonate with a fairly large segment of the U.S. public, especially Republican Party voters. Discredited recounts of the last presidential election results are occuring in Arizona and elsewhere, and Trump has hinted that he may be reinstated in office this summer due to election fraud that has yet to be uncovered. He also hints that he may run again for president in 2024.
At this point, Trump is throwing his weight (no pun intended) behind his radical right-wing followers in state and local elections, as he promised he would. As a result, the national Republican Party is now a house divided into factions of right wing, extreme-right wing and neo-fascist Trump wing.
Arrests continue by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies over the 6 January insurrection, with hundreds of arrests made so far of those who illegally participated in the Capitol riot and many more reportedly to come.
Trumpists in Congress and in several Republican-dominated states continue to do The Great Orange One’s dirty work for him, with Texas being a prime example. Strict anti-abortion, open-carry guns, no teaching of racism in school classes, the planned restoration of Trump’s cheaply built border wall with Mexico — Texas is going for broke in keeping the dubious Trump legacy alive and well.
In Trump’s soiled name, Jim Crow version 2.0 is in full effect in a number of American states like Georgia, as the New York Times is reporting. In these states, Democrats of color and other defenders of voting rights are fighting the battle at the local level, where a host of new restrictive voting laws are being put in place to make sure that a presidential candidate like Trump (or even Trump himself) never again loses on their turf in the future. Never.
Recently, a proposed bipartisan congressional panel to investigate deeply the whole story behind the U.S. Capitol attack was effectively sabotaged by the ranking eunuch of the Republican Party in Congress, Mitch McConnell, senator from Kentucky. This is the same Mitch McConnell who confirmed, soon after the shameful insurrection, Trump’s guilt in inciting the Capitol riot — “no question about it.” Yet like so many others, McConnell pitifully sells out any personal standards or principles he may have to stay in Trump’s fickle graces.
The Republican Party, during Trump’s tenure as president and afterward, has shown itself to be the party of anti-democracy in every way. The party has become the welcome home of rightest reactionaries of all types who do nothing but just that — react oppressively to whatever the Democratic Party offers up in the way of policies. Trump may be gone from office, but his legions of loyalists are carrying on in his place.
Thus it is that six months after being replaced in office, Disinfectant Don — the same schmuck who tried to sell the American public on injecting disinfectant in the veins to fight the coronavirus pandemic — is now selling a new kind of snake oil: a self-made miracle potion that, when applied, magically dilutes and diminishes democracy down in size rather than strengthening it. No fuss, no muss. The only thing that remains after it all dries up is a permanent, bright-orange Trumpian stain where democratic norms used to be.
All of which raises the question: Where in the world did this death-to-democracy mentality among Republicans come from? Former president Barack Obama has recently posited that this monster first raised its ugly head during the 2008 election campaign, when then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain (no reactionary slouch in his own right) chose as his vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin, the far-rightist former governor of Alaska. But despite the validity of his thesis, Obama does not go back far enough in time in his analysis.
No, a strong argument could be made that it rather began with the former two-bit Hollywood actor and U.S. president Ronald Reagan back in the early 1980s, and was carried on from there by George H.W. Bush, the former CIA director, and his son George W. Bush, the boy-king. It all started with Reagan. That is when those of us who are old enough to remember can recall clearly the rise of an openly hateful, divisive brand of Republican politics that took no prisoners, showed no mercy and respected few constitutional laws — all in the name of a plastic patriotism and a giddy materialism that fostered the rise of a new breed of legal aliens known as “Yuppies”.
Disinfectant Don didn’t start all of this, but he sure as hell has reaped the politico-economic rewards of what Reagan and company had put in place from 1981 onward. And at each step along the way since then, the Republican “conservative” monster grew and morphed and transmogrified and shape-shifted into a creature that even Reagan and his chimpanzee sidekick Bonzo would probably not recognize today.
So, at the risk of getting bombarded by paper airplanes of disapproval from Democrat flunkies, I will say it again: Trump didn’t start the brush fires of anti-democracy actions that we see today in the U.S.; he has just fanned the flames to dangerous degrees. Trump may be dumb, but he’s not a total dunce. He sees what has worked for would-be dictators in countries like Hungary, the Philippines and Brazil, and he wants the same thing for himself and his kind in the USA. And he may or may not get it in the coming years, depending what we all do — or don’t do — to stop him in his tracks.
Disinfectant Don may have been relieved of duty as America’s failed, fake president by the voters, but the stormclouds of distrust, distortion and dissent that he has been seeding ever since then continue to grow. The threat to democracy has never been greater, and it’s a threat that comes from within the democratic system (such as it is in the USA), not from some foreign outsiders. America’s domestic terrorists and their three-piece-suited enablers in high places need to be stopped before they even get close to overturning the legitimate will and voice of the people in the future. And we are the ones who must stop them, before it’s too late.