Trump, Fascism, and Mike Johnson’s Visions from God

  • Robert Kagan sequelizes his editorial from a week ago with ideas about how to stop a Trump dictatorship;
  • Robert Reich looks at the GOP’s death cycle, its descent into fascism;
  • A former Prime Minister of the UK foresees what will happen if Trump wins again;
  • Short items about Vivek Ramaswamy’s far-right conspiracy theories; how Nikki Haley “won” last night’s Republican debate; how Fox News, lying again, touted as a “Democrat voter” someone who hates Democrats; and several items about House Leader Mike Johnson’s visions from God.

More from Robert Kagan. Let’s see what he has to say. This time he attempts to offer a solution to the problem he described last week.

Washington Post, Robert Kagan, 7 Dec 2023: Opinion | The Trump dictatorship: How to stop it

The problem has never been knowing what to do. It has been doing it. In the past, stopping Trump has required people taking risks and making sacrifices that they did not want to make, whether out of selfishness, fear or ambition. Today, the challenges are even greater, but there is little evidence that the people we need to rise to the occasion are any more likely to do so than they have been for the past eight years.

Here are several things people could do to save the country but almost certainly won’t do, because they selfishly refuse to put their own ambitions at risk to save our democracy.

A long piece; I’ll skim and summarize the several things he says people could do.

1, “[C]onsolidate all the anti-Trump forces in the Republican Party behind a single candidate, right now.” (Namely, Nikki Haley.)
2, She needs to reach the factions of the Republican party who are not part of “cult” of Trump.
3, She needs to raise doubts about Trump’s electability. Stop saying they’ll support him if he’s the nominee. In doing so they are tacitly agreeing that “Biden is a dictator and Trump is being persecuted.”
4, Republicans need to push back against Trump’s narrative, above; they need to hear it from fellow Republicans. If Haley won’t, people like Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell should.
5, Even if Haley fails, “The formula for defeating Trump in November is simple enough: Unite the Democrats, and split the Republicans.” Third-part candidates are disastrous.
6, Our current political system prevents the popular majority against Trump from coalescing. But the system can’t be fixed before November.
7, He calls out prominent Republicans who should be part of the coalition with Democrats to defeat Trump.
8, “The Republican Party is finished as a coherent legitimate political party. Either it is about to become the party of the Trump dictatorship or it is going to break up into Constitutional and anti-Constitutional wings. The two-party arrangement the nation has known since the Civil War ended when the Trump cult captured the GOP.”
9, He warns against “lullaby” arguments… then concludes:

Some readers of my last essay asked fairly: What can an ordinary citizen do? The answer is, what they always do when they really care about something, when they regard it as a matter of life and death. They become activists. They get organized. They hold peaceful and legal rallies and marches. They sign petitions. They deluge their representatives, Republican or Democrat, with calls and mail, asking them to speak up and defend the Constitution. They call out their political leaders, state and local, and give them courage to stand up as well. Americans used to do these sorts of things. Have they forgotten how? At the risk of sounding Capra-esque, if every American who fears a Trump dictatorship acted on those fears, voiced them, convinced others, influenced their elected officials, then yes, that could make a difference. Another ship is passing that can still save us. Will we swim toward it this time, or will we let it pass, as we have all the others? I am deeply pessimistic, but I could not more fervently wish to be proved wrong.

(What am *I* doing? Well, writing this blog, for anyone who might happen to read it, perhaps even some Trump supporters, ahem. My local officials and representative and senators don’t need convincing of anything from me.)


Echoing some of the above, here is Robert Reich today. Great graphic.

Robert Reich, 7 Dec 2023: The GOP’s death cycle, subtitled “How the Republican Party turns fascist”

He considers the number of Republican representatives who’ve recently announced their retirements. And then recalls,

The degeneration of the GOP has occurred over many years. I witnessed the first major purge of so-called moderate Republicans in 1994, when Newt Gingrich took over the House. The Senate still contained a few moderate Republicans: I worked with Senators Mark Hatfield, Arlen Specter, John Chafee, Jim Jeffords, William Cohen, and Susan Collins on several pieces of legislation. I found them all to be thoughtful and reasonable.

But moderate Republicans are gone from Congress. Soon, any Republican lawmaker still possessing some integrity will also be gone.

The Republican Party is in an integrity death cycle. As the GOP is taken over by Trump’s enablers and sycophants, the few remaining principled Republican lawmakers want out. As they depart, the Trump rot spreads.


By a former Prime Minister of the UK.

The Guardian, Gordon Brown, 7 Dec 2023: Here’s what Trump 2.0 will bring: ignorance and vengeance in the US, chaos for world order, subtitled “He must be defeated but not by adopting his toxic agenda. A vision of hope, fairness and justice is more likely to succeed”

When Trump engages in the conspiracy-theory politics of destroying “the deep state”, what he really means is that he will rule by presidential decree and where possible undermine independent federal institutions, thus destroying the checks and balances that have for two and a half centuries been at the heart of the American constitution. No longer would we be able to say that the rule of law and democracy prevails in America, that voting is free of interference or intimidation, or that power is properly accountable. He would kill for good any ideal of the “city on the hill”, and the liberal rules-based order with the US as the model for the world to emulate.

This echoes my reference to Rauch’s “Constitution of Knowledge.” And this echoes my continued theme that conservatives think in terms of black and white and zero-sum politics:

Trump’s vision of “America First and Only” is a dark summons to an insular and isolationist America, and an “us versus them” world of zero-sum politics. He conceives of a world where nations compete – like he did as a property developer – to destroy competitors, and thus the US can only win when others lose.

And he offers some lessons from Europe, which might be compared to Robert Kagan’s advice.

It is crucial to understand that Trump cannot be defeated by narrowing the difference between him and his Democratic opponents. It would be a mistake for them to dilute or abandon progressive policies and indulge in protectionism, mercantilism and xenophobia. Recent elections in Europe, where the far right has made considerable gains, show that if moderates allow the election agenda to be captured by the far right’s anti-immigrant, anti-environmental and anti-internationalist rhetoric, the far right wins.


Shorter items.

Slate, Shirin Ali, 7 Dec 2023: Vivek Ramaswamy’s Sprint to Cram As Many Virulent, Far-Right Conspiracy Theories As He Could Into the Last Debate

He said: “Why am I the only person on the stage at least who can say that January 6 now does look like it was an inside job? That the government lied to us for 20 years about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11? That the Great Replacement Theory is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic party’s platform? That the 2020 election was indeed stolen by Big Tech? That the 2016 election, the one that Trump won for sure, was also one that was stolen from him by the national security establishment—” And that’s where a moderator began to cut him off.

Playing to a crowd of eager conspiracy-theory believers.


Vox, Andrew Prokop, 6 Dec 2023: 3 winners and 1 loser from the fourth Republican presidential debate

The general consensus here and in similar articles is that Nikki Haley “won,” and the loser was “small-government conservatism.” This piece highlights the same Ramaswamy rant quoted above.


Fox lies again. Not that I’m trying to keep up; others do.

Salon, 7 Dec 2023: Fox News panelist touted as “Democrat voter” outed as anti-vax activist who hates Democrats, subtitled “Stephanie Edmonds said Dems ‘are an automatic no-no for me’ and that she was ‘voting down ballot Republican'”

I suppose it’s pedantic to point out how Republicans confuse (deliberately?) nouns and adjectives. It’s the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party. Even a current bestseller by Mark R. Levin makes this mistake. No doubt he’s a member of the Republic Party.


I’ve seen this story on three sites today, but I’ll quote and comment on just this one. (The others are here and here. Are these people mentally ill?)

Slate, Molly Olmstead, 7 Dec 2023: Mike Johnson Claims That God Prepared Him to Be a “New Moses”

Some people who hear voices in their head are considered mentally ill; religious people who say this are given passes.

In a speech at a gala celebrating right-wing Christian lawmakers on Tuesday night, House Speaker Mike Johnson thanked the event organizers for kicking reporters out. “I’ll tell you a secret since the media’s not here,” he promised them. (It’s unclear if Johnson knew that the event’s organizer would post a video of the gala on his personal Facebook page.)

That secret was a series of conversations he’d had with God in the lead-up to the speaker vote that anointed him:

Then quoting Johnson:

The Lord impressed upon my heart a few weeks before this happened that something was going to occur. And the Lord very specifically told me in my prayers to prepare but to wait. I had this sense that we were going to come to a Red Sea moment in our Republican conference and the country at large.

Look, I’m a Southern Baptist. I don’t want to get too spooky on you, OK? But the Lord speaks to your heart. And he had been speaking to me about this.

And the Lord told me very clearly to prepare. OK, prepare for what? I don’t know. “We’re coming to a Red Sea moment.” “What does that mean, Lord?”

The article writer comments,

It’s common for evangelicals to feel personally guided by God, often through conversations during prayer, and sometimes using lessons from Scripture. And there have been hints before that Johnson sees his position as divinely inspired, even if he never previously compared himself with the Hebrew Bible’s most important prophet. In his first speech upon becoming speaker, Johnson said, “I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear: that God is the one who raises up those in authority.”

I find people like Johnson scary. I know it’s impolite to criticize people who seem physically or mentally challenged…. so I will not say any more just now. Time to go fix dinner, and interact with the real world.

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