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'We Are in the End-Game of Early-Stage Authoritarianism'

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 11, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 11, 2020 |


On Tuesday in Georgia’s primary, the voting system suffered a huge meltdown. It’s exactly what those in power wanted. Black voters had to stand in line for hours. New voting machines didn’t work. Provisional ballots ran out. Even many mail-in ballots were defective, forcing voters to stand in line for hours to use a voting machine that didn’t work. It’s the same goddamn story; the tactics may have changed, but it’s no different in 2020 than during the Jim Crow era.

But we might also consider Georgia an early test for President Trump’s efforts to steal the election come November. He’s already mounting a campaign to discredit mail-in ballots. Yesterday, he did something I don’t think we’ve ever seen: He not only tried to discredit a CNN poll, he tried to force CNN to retract it. From CNN:

The CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on Monday shows Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. It also finds the President’s approval rating at 38% — his worst mark since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years — and his disapproval rating at 57%.

In the letter to Zucker, the Trump campaign argued that the CNN poll is “designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling.”

“It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President,” read the letter, signed by the Trump campaign’s senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and chief operating officer Michael Glassner.

CNN obviously refused to retract the polls (and the President’s attempt to retract it only called more attention to it), but all of this is part of an overall effort to disenfranchise voters, suppress voting, and discredit the election results in November. It is the final stage in an authoritarian takeover.

On this morning’s WTF podcast, Marc Maron interviewed Stacey Abrams, who is one of the leading contenders to be Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential nominee (and my personal preference). In 2018, Brian Kemp — who was the f***king Secretary of State — brazenly used his power as the person overseeing the vote to ensure that voting was suppressed. It cost Stacey Abrams the election. Kemp pulled the same bullsh*t on Tuesday as Governor.

Lest you think the headline above is hyperbole, listen to the potential VP nominee and, god willing, the President of the United States in 2024 speak to it. It all tracks.

“We are living in the early stages of a regime. It begins with a populace, usually, that uses coarse language to attract attention and distract from their lack of moral core. It then gets transmuted into the domination of a certain form of communication so that they can discredit every other means of communication that doesn’t enforce their message. You then see them take over institutions or — if they can’t take them over, like the judiciary — they then try to diminish faith in the other organizations, like the media. Like inspectors general.

And then their end game is to stop the election. And they stop the elections not by declaring authoritarian rule — if you look at Erdogan in Turkey or Narendra Modi in India, if you look at Jair Bolsonaro, these are all authoritarian populists who are in various stages of this … what Trump has done is every stage of the populist playbook. His only remaining stage is to discredit our elections by either denying people the right to vote — which is what he is saying by trying to deny access to mail-in ballots even though he and his entourage use them (in fact, they have even fraudulently used them) … oh, and let’s dismantle the U.S. Postal Service in case the fraud accusation doesn’t work, we take the money away. We are in the end-game of early-stage authoritarianism that is being suborned by the U.S. Senate because the other thing that an authoritarian populist does is they convince their political adjutants that their only survival is to forget who they are and join in this diminution of who we are as a nation.”

We have five months to save our Democracy. The good news is: Biden knows what’s coming, too.

I like that Biden is speaking Abrams’ language here, too. That hopefully bodes well for her as the VP choice. He is expected to make that choice by August 1st.

Header Image Source: Getty Images