Why It Can Happen Here

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/trump-republican-party-authoritarianism.html

We’re very close to becoming another Poland or Hungary.

By Paul Krugman
Aug. 27, 2018

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a friend of mine — an expert on international relations — made a joke: “Now that Eastern Europe is free from the alien ideology of Communism, it can return to its true historical path — fascism.” Even at the time, his quip had a real edge.

And as of 2018 it hardly seems like a joke at all. What Freedom House calls illiberalism is on the rise across Eastern Europe. This includes Poland and Hungary, both still members of the European Union, in which democracy as we normally understand it is already dead.

In both countries the ruling parties — Law and Justice in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary — have established regimes that maintain the forms of popular elections, but have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent. The result seems likely to be one-party rule for the foreseeable future.

And it could all too easily happen here. There was a time, not long ago, when people used to say that our democratic norms, our proud history of freedom, would protect us from such a slide into tyranny. In fact, some people still say that. But believing such a thing today requires willful blindness. The fact is that the Republican Party is ready, even eager, to become an American version of Law and Justice or Fidesz, exploiting its current political power to lock in permanent rule.

Just look at what has been happening at the state level.

In North Carolina, after a Democrat won the governorship, Republicans used the incumbent’s final days to pass legislation stripping the governor’s office of much of its power.

In Georgia, Republicans tried to use transparently phony concerns about access for disabled voters to close most of the polling places in a mainly black district.

In West Virginia, Republican legislators exploited complaints about excessive spending to impeach the entire State Supreme Court and replace it with party loyalists.

And these are just the cases that have received national attention. There are surely scores if not hundreds of similar stories across the nation. What all of them reflect is the reality that the modern G.O.P. feels no allegiance to democratic ideals; it will do whatever it thinks it can get away with to entrench its power.

What about developments at the national level? That’s where things get really scary. We’re currently sitting on a knife edge. If we fall off it in the wrong direction — specifically, if Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress in November — we will become another Poland or Hungary faster than you can imagine.

This week Axios created a bit of a stir with a scoop about a spreadsheet circulating among Republicans in Congress, listing investigations they think Democrats are likely to carry out if they take the House. The thing about the list is that every item on it — starting with Donald Trump’s tax returns — is something that obviously should be investigated, and would have been investigated under any other president. But the people circulating the document simply take it for granted that Republicans won’t address any of these issues: Party loyalty will prevail over constitutional responsibility.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/trump-republican-party-authoritarianism.html

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Emails Show Homeland Security Official Had Ties To White Nationalists

From The Forward:  https://forward.com/fast-forward/409186/emails-show-homeland-security-official-had-ties-to-white-nationalists/

By Alyssa Fisher
August 29, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security has denounced “all forms of violent extremism” following the resignation of a department policy analyst who was connected to white nationalists, The Atlantic reported.

Leaked emails seen by The Atlantic show that analyst Ian Smith had been in contact and planned events with a group that included known white nationalists. One email thread sent to Smith included the address of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. Jared Taylor, the founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, was also a recipient of an email sent to Smith.

The messages show how prominent white nationalists interact and stay in touch with each other, including gathering for what they called an “Alt-right Toastmasters” night.

When asked for comment, Smith said in an email: “I no longer work at DHS as of last week and didn’t attend any of the events you’ve mentioned.” Neither he nor DHS disputed that Smith is in fact included on the emails in question.

Others in the Trump administration have already been outed for their ties to white nationalism. White House speechwriter Darren Beattie left the administration after CNN reported earlier this month that he had attended a conference popular with white nationalists in 2016. And The Washington Post reported last week that Peter Brimelow, the publisher of the white nationalist website VDare, had attended a party at the house of top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

 

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Al Gore to Donald Trump: “Resign!”

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