Yeah so, Donald Trump won. Some things upcoming in the next four years:
- Extrajudicial assassination of American citizens within the 48 contiguous states, vetted by secret courts.
- Widespread use of torture, with and without oversight.
- A significant uptick in ethnically motivated violence up to and including murder.
- Concentration camps for various subcategories of people living and working in the United States.
- Evident, back-the-truck-up-to-the-vault-levels of public theft by administration flunkies. Widespread hiring of US GOP functionaries with specific experience at this exact thing from the oversight of occupied Iraq. Said criminals will be feted as heroes, possibly in a reality TV show.
- Mass deportations of people suspected of being illegal aliens.
- Large numbers of American citizens deported in these actions due to profiling, corruption, and predjudice.
- An historic recession due to global loss of faith in the stability and jurisprudence of the United States.
- A pointless war, or maybe several.
- The implementation of loyalty statutes, framed as responses to the economic collapse and unpopular war and the consequent acts of violent resistance.
- The abolition of termlimited and eventually electoral governance by the executive.
My dad and I were traveling together in Cuba in August and I went off on a rant about how the GOP were the absolute expression of the enemies of democracy and always had been during my conscious lifetime. I’m not limiting this shit to Reagan, here, I am specifically including Nixon, because that is the first GOP president of my lifetime to devote significant policy and campaign resources to, in Trump’s words, “rigging” his re-election.
He kind of shook his head in disbelief, even though he’s been hearing me rant about this since I was a teenager. Roughly, his words were “I just don’t see how that amounts to this ‘end of democracy’ stuff.”
It gave me pause, as in context I also understood him to be asking me to ask myself why over the course of my entire life I have had a clear tendency to view a certain American right political tendency as explicitly anti-democratic, as murderously authoritarian, and as essentially fascist. I thought writing about it might clarify things somewhat as I do think that there is a specific reason my psychology predisposes me to observe and highlight these viewpoints, events, and actions. Interestingly, my viewpoint is factually correct – American political, military, and intelligence leaders and personnel have actually engaged in this pattern of democratic suppression with increasing intensity over the course of my life.
Counterpoised against this, I suppose, would be the increasing social openness of American society, the midseventies efforts to limit the use of domestic and international espionage and assasination for domestic political purposes by both the FBI and the CIA, the currently highly contentious efforts to establish reasonable accountability for the use of deadly force by police officers, and the election of Barack Obama. Things change! Yet the implementation of these systemic tools of state repression has never slowed, and appears to me to have been even accelerated by such things as the Church hearings.
The toxic recombination of US Latin American foreign policy with the renascent Reagan GOP in the 1980s produced a ill-advised offshore industry of security consultants and international military education with a US-led emphasis on counterinsurgency tactics. Those tactics can be summarized, roughly, as “torture, terror, and genocide,” that having worked well for Europeans in the Americas since the 1600s. These lessons were even brought to bear in the East with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
That prosperous anti-democratic polyp of the national security infrastructure has has sought and found ways to grow and thrive since the post-Vietnam era, swollen with red-faced rage and resentment at being reined in in the wake of their clients’ assassination, torture, and kidnapping operations in the United States in the 1970s. Prior ongoing purely domestic campaigns that employed the same tactics never excited similar scrutiny.
President Obama inherited a post-9/11 security apparatus that was designed by these murderous enemies of decency and absolutely failed to disassemble it. President Trump will inherit it as well, along with a venal crew of murderous racist toadies. He will not hesitate to use it to punish people he sees as personal enemies.
This actually is what the end of democracy looks like.
I probably am prone to seeing, to expecting this, in part because we lived in Chile in 1969 and on September 11, 1972, the elected Communist government of that country was overthrown in a violent military coup that kickstarted the era of death squad terror in Latin America. That news entered my head roughly at the same time as the news of Watergate, and so as a child I was taught that democracy is fragile and that American institutions are not, in the long run, actually committed to democracy, but rather to power.
My dad has seen the same stuff that I have over my lifetime, but he does not see this moment (or those preceding it which I have also seen as crises of democracy, such as Reagan’s arms and drug smuggling, GWB II’s judicial theft of a Presidential election, and the erection of a torture and assassination military and intelligence infrastructure) as necessarily even an aspect of an assault on democracy. He’s factually incorrect, of course.