January 6th, 2021, the day a violent mob almost successfully overthrew our government, was the darkest day in recent American history.
It was practice.
The threat to our elections is still very much present.
“Never-Trump” conservative Jennifer Rubin reported for The Washington Post:
“In case you thought President Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020, the ensuing investigations of armed insurrectionists and the work of the House January 6 select committee had deterred future attempts to sabotage democracy, think again….This self-described ‘army’ of 2020 election deniers, coupled with lawyers ready to throw the election into chaos, should set off alarm bells at the Justice Department. While this evidence comes from Michigan, it is a scheme that former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, among others, has been pushing nationwide.”
“Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger.”
This was a month after he asserted, “We’re going to have more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?”
Attorney Norman Eisen, former House Judiciary Committee co-counsel during Trump’s first impeachment, noted “democracy defenders” have been “taking note” of this “scheme.”
“Elections and government officials, nonprofit groups, pro-democracy political actors, and, if necessary, law enforcement and the courts, can and will rise to the occasion as they’ve done before to respond to these kinds of nefarious activities….To the extent that (district attorneys) and other officials are planning to suppress voting rights in cahoots with extreme partisan actors, federal and state law enforcement officials will certainly be monitoring the situation closely.”
In May, pro-democracy groups like the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forwardissued a report titled “A Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures Are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Election Administration,” in which is described how GOP state legislators are introducing and passing scores of legislation to green-light partisan republican poll watchers to intervene and possibly skew election results.
States United Democracy Center concluded:
“We have a democracy crisis in the making. All of us who care about our democracy-regardless of political affiliation-must continue to use every tool we have to protect free and fair elections in this country, and to reject efforts to undermine them.”
“Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol, the confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart. Even during the Civil War, that never, ever happened. But it happened here in 2021.”
Biden wasn’t merely recounting a detail from last January sixth.
He was warning us.
The fact domestic terrorists brandished within the citadel of democracy the same symbol traitors intent on destroying democracy did during the Civil War represents how near we are to losing that democracy.
More pundits, bloggers, journalists, historians, and even former presidents, lately have been weighing in on this precarious moment in our history, when the most violent attack on our Capitol since the War of 1812 should have shocked us back into wanting to defend our democratic ideals against all enemies foreign and domestic.
But that isn’t what happened.
Instead, over the past year, we have seen more evidence America is closer to fascism than ever.
And it’s happening at the institutional level so by 2024, Donald Trump’s tendrils could be so inextricably extended that preventing what happened last January sixth from being another failure could be futile.
One example is QAnon conspiracy theory adherent, former business owner, Nevada state assembly member, and failed US House candidate, Jim Marchant, who just won Nevada’s republican primary for secretary of state, the official responsible for overseeing the state’s elections and deciding who and who does not vote.
Marchant is a proponent of Trump’s “big lie” the 2020 election was rigged and stolen.
He confirmed a few months ago the existence of the “coalition of America First secretary of state candidates,” Trump loyalists seeking to take control of the electoral process by running in crucial swing states.
Some were present at the Capitol last January sixth.
In an interview with The Guardian, Marchant confirmed eight current coalition members running for state election official roles, and more will likely join.
Their goals, according to Marchant, are to end most mail-in voting and voter identification expansion, and institute “aggressive” cleanup of voter rolls.
This is more than just a story about Trump loyalists embedding themselves into the system to rig it for their “dear leader”.
This is part of a ploy to install a dictator — Trump or anyone else — regardless of whether or not the majority of Americans vote for another Democrat.
A Global State of Democracy (GSoD Indices) report from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance includes the United States for the first time in its annual list of “backsliding” democracies.
Our decline is being compared to those in Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Mauritius, Namibia, Slovenia, and Poland.
We are at the most critical period in our history since the Civil War, asserts Historian Ken Burns, one of the foremost documentary filmmakers in America.
Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, an expert on the rise of authoritarianism, concurs, stating:
“First of all, I just want to say that, for the people who actually study the origins of civil wars, not just in the US, but as a class of events, America doesn’t look good right now. Those social scientists who actually work on this topic-neutrally-see indicators in the United States, which suggests that we are on the brink of some kind of conflict.”
He adds it is “very possible” we could see a repeat of 1876 in 2024.
“A few states just have to withhold their electoral votes; the House of Representatives then votes, according to state delegations; the Supreme Court then blesses the whole configuration; and then all of a sudden you have an installed president of the United States.”
Our neighbors to the north are already fearing this scenario.
Canadian author Stephen Marche posits in his new book The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future: “The United States is coming to an end. The question is how.”
“By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.”
Canada has a right to be concerned.
No functioning democracy wants to share a border with a right-wing dictatorship.
This is one reason (besides economic interests) we fight to preserve and expand democracy all over the world.
Democracy makes the world safer.
But right now authoritarian regimes are challenging democracy’s legitimacy.
The Atlantic staff writer Anne Applebaum wrote in a recent piece titled, “The Bad Guys Are Winning”:
“If the 20th century was the story of liberal democracy’s progress toward victory over other ideologies-communism, fascism, virulent nationalism-the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.”
The problem, though, is not just republicans and Trump loyalists.
They can only be stopped when enough people notice they’re a threat.
Therein lies our potential destruction.
If we were to stop random Americans on the street and suggest we’re headed in the direction of fascist authoritarian regimes, they might call you an “alarmist.”
They’ll think you’re being hyperbolic.
“We’re Americans, after all,” they’d proclaim. “We’re not like those countries.”
Maybe not yet.