Nick Cohen and Andrew Sullivan: Why Trump is a fascist and an insurgent

January 17, 2021 • 9:30 am

Here’s the bad news to start off with, presaging no early end to the polarization of America (h/t: Matthew)

As of Wednesday, Donald Trump will no longer be President, and I for one am looking forward to a time of relative calm and rebuilding, if not “healing”. But I’m also curious as to what will happen to the Republican party, and a bit fearful of what the gun-hugging loons are going to do on Wednesday, or when the Democratic Congress starts undoing all of Trump’s changes. Washington D.C. is now closed to those who want to watch the Inauguration live; we’ll have to resort to television and and President behind bulletproof glass.

In the meantime, while the days of Trumpism dwindle down to an unprecious few, we have two final cris de coeur giving a final assessment of the Trump presidency.  Nick Cohen ponders whether it’s correct to call Trump a fascist, while Andrew Sullivan is taken aback by Trump’s participation in the Capitol insurrection.

Cohen first, as what he says seems more thoughtful. Click on the screenshot (h/t Jez)

For Cohen, the word “fascist” is not to be used lightly; as he says:

The use of “fascism” in political debate is both a call to arms and a declaration of war. For once you say you are fighting fascism there can be no retreat. By talking of “pre-fascism” or “neo-fascism”, you acknowledge that the F-word is not a bomb you should detonate lightly; you also acknowledge the gravity of the times.

But he then disposes of two alternative adjectives: Trump’s not a “conservative” because his views and actions don’t comport with what people have usually meant by the term. Nor is Trump a “populist” because, says Cohen, he’s not supporting the people against elites: Cohen avers that it’s itself elitist to “[deny] the result of the people’s vote with the big lie, the Joseph Goebbels lie, that Trump won the election he lost and then [to incite] brainwashed followers to storm democratic institutions”.  Well that sounds like populism to me, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition:

POPULISM. The policies or principles of any of various political parties which seek to represent the interests of ordinary people, spec. of the Populists of the U.S. or Russia. Also: support for or representation of ordinary people or their views; speech, action, writing, etc., intended to have general appeal.

Some have compromised by calling trump a “proto-fascist” or “pre-fascist”, but Cohen dismisses those terms as well, and for three reasons you can read about in his piece. For Cohen, the term “fascist” winds up perfectly appropriate for Trump because of his incitement to overthrow a democratic election. In particular, Cohen dismisses the argument that Trump shouldn’t be called a fascist because he hasn’t yet “transformed his society into a totalitarian war machine”:

The example of the stages of cancer, so beloved by believers in Trump derangement syndrome, explains the stupidity. Imagine you are a doctor looking at pre-cancerous cells or an early-stage cancer that has not grown deeply into tissue. The door bursts open and a chorus of Fox News presenters and Cambridge dons cry that “real experts in the field” agree that on no account should you call it cancer until it has metastasised and spread through the whole body. A competent doctor would insist on calling a fatal disease by its real name and not leave treatment until it was too late to stop it. So should you.

Well, no, it’s not a fatal disease until it’s become terminal, so the metaphor is weak. In truth, this does seem to be a quibble about labels, informed though it is by Cohen’s knowledge of history. We know what Trump is, and does it really make a difference if, technically, he’s a fascist or not? Our drive to ensure that he never again holds the reins of leadership doesn’t depend on a label, but on his past behaviors.

At the Weekly Dish, Sullivan calls for Trump’s impeachment and conviction, pretty much also on the grounds that he is a fascist, de-legitimizing a democratic election whose results were audited and found correct (click on the screenshot):

A quote:

This is why Trump should be impeached and convicted in the Senate. Not because he directly incited a riot against members of Congress and his own vice-president  and chose not to intervene while it continued. It’s that Trump has repeatedly, insistently and emphatically attacked the legitimacy of the entire democracy he is in charge of. This is not just a Big Lie, as others have noted. It’s the Biggest Lie Imaginable. It’s arsenic to a functioning democracy, and Trump has long injected it directly into the veins of the American system.

. . . Trump is leveraging the authority of his office — the highest in the land — to destroy the legitimacy of our entire system, and of the next president: “By the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes? Does anybody believe that? He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that.” Did he want an inquiry? Nah. He was quite clear what his immediate purpose was: “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the States to re-certify, and we become president.”

But before that, Sullivan emphasizes America’s increased polarization, due largely to the recalcitrance of the GOP:

You can see the difference between 2016 and 2020 in this stat: “In 2016, 52% of Democrats said Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump was ‘legitimate and accurate,’” — pretty disconcerting for any democracy. But this year, only “26% of Republicans said they thought Trump’s loss was similarly legitimate.” In 2016, right after the election, 84 percent of adults believed the election was legitimate, with 15 percent opposed. In 2020, only 57 percent of Americans believed that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president, compared with 43 percent who didn’t. Among men, it’s 51 to 49 percent. Among those earning between $50K and $100K, it’s a 50-50 split. Among white men without a college degree, a clear majority, 62 percent, believe the election was outright stolen. That’s a huge torpedo hit below the waterline for our democracy.

Trump has already been impeached, though I doubt the upcoming trial will convict him since 17 Republican Senators have to vote for that result. Regardless, the system is now working as it should, though I think, in the interests of harmony (if that’s possible), Democrats should resist gloating. (Neither Cohen nor Sullivan are guilty of this.) As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

Although I wasn’t that impressed with Sullivan’s piece, largely a regurgitation of previously-published views and statistics, his reason for impeaching Trump is at least interesting. Sadly, though, the one count of the indictment is not “repeatedly, insistently, and emphatically [attacking] the legitimacy of the democracy he is in charge of.” The insurrection is merely one aspect of those attacks, but the Senate has to vote on the charges, and one can make a superficially plausible case that Trump wasn’t inciting immediate and predictable violence. I don’t agree with that defense, but Sullivan’s own charge is irrelevant for the forthcoming trial.

62 thoughts on “Nick Cohen and Andrew Sullivan: Why Trump is a fascist and an insurgent

  1. What is to be done? What can be done to gradually educate the Duped Right that the claims of illegitimacy were all a Big Lie? It would have to involve, I think, the persuasion of right wing news media to come around to accepting the truth and to publicly say so.

  2. I don’t know if T***p is a fascist or not. In fact, I tend to think these arguments about labelling are a distraction and often a prelude to making a straw man argument. I’d prefer to look at the things that T***p has done.

    He started off by winning an election with the help of Russia (I don’t know if the 48% of Democrats who did not think Clinton’s loss was legitimate were right, but there is evidence that the Russians did try to steal it from her). He put children in cages. He started to discriminate against immigrants who were non white. He trampled over international agreements, screwed over America’s allies and sucked up to America’s enemies. He tried to extort personal favours from foreign heads of state. He used his position to enrich himself at the expense of US tax payers. He used his position to protect himself from prosecution. He dismantled environmental protections. He failed to provide any kind of leadership during a global pandemic in which more Americans died than as a result of WW2. He told people to inject themselves with bleach or shove a sun lamp up their arse. He pardoned murderers who killed Iraqis and his friends who committed federal crimes. He spent the last year telling his supporters that the election would be rigged against him. He suggested people should use “second amendment solutions” against their political opponents. He challenged the election results without any evidence whatsoever. He incited a crowd to storm the Capitol and he watched the consequences on the telly without lifting a finger.

    I’m sure that’s not an exclusive list and other people can think of some other stuff to add to it.

    I do not know if these are the actions of a fascist, but I do know they are the actions of T***p.

    Citizens of the USA: label him a fascist or don’t label him a fascist, I don’t care, but he’s committed crimes against the American people and against humanity. Make him pay.

    1. Yes Jeremy, I don’t know if the term is still used, and maybe not really appropriate, but I’d call him a ‘crypto-fascist’. He does not really have a clear fascist ideology, but his actions are in many ways fascist.
      He definitely is a populist. A populist does not really represents the actual interests of ‘ordinary people’, but presses their hot buttons, I’d think.

  3. We are locked down hard here in the UK so all public libraries are closed but in my local library there is a physical copy of the Oxford English Dictionary which is quoted in the article. I have previously looked at the definition of the word fascist and memorised some of it. In addition to talking about Mussolini’s political movement it says
    (loosely) A person of right-wing authoritarian views.
    Trump certainly matches this definition.
    Mussolini Hitler and Franco in the 1930s were all different in some ways but Trump certainly matches the general impression that people have of that awful trio. He would, if he could, rule as a dictator. If that armed mob of thugs who stormed the capitol had been better organised and the politicians just a little less well defended who knows what kind of situation American, and the word might find itself in now.

  4. “In 2016, 52% of Democrats said Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump was ‘legitimate and accurate,’”

    I’m not sure how to take this. I suspect some considered the loss illegitimate on the basis of DT’s campaign strategy, not just the vote count. He engaged in ruthless lies and innuendo, which one can see as an unfair way to win.

    1. I am surprised by that poll, as it does not resemble the view of any Democrat that I know.
      I was wondering if the respondents were thinking about possible Russian influence on swing voters, or on the fact that Hillary legitimately won the popular vote but still lost b/c of our screwy electoral college, or … what.
      Answering this question could result in one answer while one is still feeling gut-punched shortly after the election, and the same person could (reluctantly) answer more soberly at a later time.

    2. The poll is probably reflecting the fact that there was Russian interference in the election intending to help the tRump campaign. It is quite likely (IMO) that absent this activity the results would have been different.

      The big difference, of course, is that the Russians really did interfere while there is zero evidence that there was fraud that stole the recent election from tRump.

    3. I think it was largely due to Clinton’s popular vote victory while losing the electoral college. That it was the second time that’s happened to a Democrat ticket in recent memory had no doubt left many Democrat voters embittered.

      I doubt a substantial number of Democrat voters believed that the election was fraudulent, although I’m sure some portion felt that the Russian interference may have rendered the result illegitimate.

    1. I agree: Evans is more credible as an expert than Cohen and Sullivan.
      See also here:
      Is Trump a fascist? 8 experts weigh in. Oct 23, 2020
      Call him a kleptocrat, an oligarch, a xenophobe, a racist, even an authoritarian. But he doesn’t quite fit the definition of a fascist.
      The experts:
      Robert Paxton (Columbia University), Matthew Feldman (Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, CARR), Stanley Payne (University of Wisconsin Madison), Roger Griffin (Oxford Brookes University), Sheri Berman (Columbia University), Ruth Ben-Ghiat (New York University), Jason Brownlee (University of Texas Austin), Jason Stanley (Yale University, Philosophy)

  5. I agree with Sullivan about Trump’s worst crime, but the guilt does not lie solely with him. The big lie is just how Trump naturally operates, no premeditation necessary. It’s his natural default behavior. This trait made him a natural to take over the Republican Party base. The RP had been using the Big Lie against their base, with malice aforethought, for more than 2 decades. By the time Trump came along they already had their base conditioned to believe a false reality.

    This is why it will be so difficult to counter the RP delusion. It’s been decades in the making. If it were merely something Trump had created in the past 4 years, perhaps it could be effectively countered in a short period of time. But in reality what we have is people that have spent a significant part of their entire lives, some from child to adult, immersed in the false narrative intentionally created by the RPs decades long Big Like campaign. And then Trump came along and stole the reigns from the RP and pumped it up to 11. Some RP constituents seem to have been disillusioned by the attempted insurrection. But far too many are still firmly in the grip of the delusion.

    I work with and live in the midst of people like this every day. I’ve talked with such people countless times over the past several years. They will not believe facts that counter The Narrative. They have no sense at all of how stupid it is to deny facts that are the consensus of experts in favor of the The Narrative as supplied by their non-experts of choice. I think it is hopeless to convince them of reality. Hopefully they won’t cause too much trouble going forward.

    1. Trump’s presidency did one important thing. He revealed what should have been apparent even prior to his election in 2016: there is a significant minority of the population that has become so disaffected with the state of affairs in the nation that they are willing to embrace a demagogue whose words both soothe and inflame them, even though his policies do nothing to help them in their everyday lives. The reason for this can be attributed to one or more of these things: status anxiety, racism, economic decline, growing inequality, fear of religious discrimination, resentment of the elites, changing demographics. Trump afforded these people a sense of dignity and self-esteem in a world they no longer recognize or welcome. This is how demagogues gain power.

      Disaffected groups are nothing new. They have always existed and always will so. One such group was willing to destroy the nation to protect slavery. But, as in 1860, today this disaffection has risen to a dangerous level. The challenge in the immediate years ahead is to tamper down the discontent, to show the cultists that they are part of the American family. Emotionally, we can hold these people in utter contempt, but that will not solve the problem. The group is too large to dismiss or suppress. Reconciliation is necessary for the nation’s survival. The problem is that no one knows how to do this.

    2. Radical change in political belief is not unknown. After WWII it was hard to find a German who had ever voted for Hitler, it is said.

      1. While it is true that it is often the case, and here as well, that after the fact many claim to have been in the resistance who were not, claimed not to have supported the bad guys and/or the losers although they did, you make it sound like it was something like a U.S. presidential election. Hitler did not get to power by being voted in. In fact, he lost the election to Hindenburg.

        And please don’t claim that the Weimar constitution is to blame. Any serious historian will tell you that the main cause of the rise to power of Hitler and his cronies was the unfairness of the Treaty of Versailles. (Note also that Germany did not start World War I; it just lost it.)

        Lessons were learned. After the second World War, which Germany did start, it was realized that rebuilding the country via the Marshall Plan was better than revenge. That worked, Today, Germany is one of the least warlike and most democratic countries in the world, and also economically strong and doing more than most to combat climate change. It is also one of the least religious, at least in practice.

        1. Your assertion that Germany did not start World War I is questionable at best. Many serious historians do not accept this. As with many great events in history, seeking their “cause” is subject to varying interpretations. For example, see this article from the BBC in which ten historians discuss the cause of World War I.

          1. I think the problem is the simplistic claim “Germany started WW1”. This is self evidently not true. Austro-Hungary did not need to go to war with Serbia. Russia did not need to go to war with Austro-Hungary. Germany did to need to come in on the side of Austro-Hungary. Perhaps Germany could have prevented the war by not supporting Austro Hungary’s attack on Serbia, but I don’t see that as any more egregious than Austro-Hungary’s decision to attack Serbia in the first place.

        2. Seriously? Nobody voted for Hitler, ever? Maybe I should have said nobody voted for the Nazi Party. As for the Weimar constitution, I know nothing about it.

          1. Discussing political events in 1930s Germany while professing to know nothing about the Weimar constitution? No further comments necessary.

            Note that no-one here ever claimed that no-one ever voted for Hitler.

        3. If by “unfairness” you refer to the payment of reparations I would note that such payments were not unique to that treaty Germany sought 5 billion francs after the 1870 Franco-Prussian war and the ‘unfairness” of the Versailles reparations is disputed: see one commment

    3. That’s a great point, Darrelle.
      It is tempting to attach all the blame and responsibility to just T***p because he was so blatant, so shameless and so damn obvious about it – almost to the level of parody.

      But the rot has been rising in the RP for decades now; the know nothingness, bigotry, self dealing, xenophobia, “family values” sexism, hatred of the poor, the iron age fairy tales of “faith”, the obstructionism and spite. It has all been coming a long time.

      And, horribly, it is not going away: the next T***p 2.0 will just be smarter, less lazy and more efficient and THAT is the worry.


  6. Sullivan has lost status with me. He continues to claim that the Democrats and their friendly media falsely hounded Trump about his collusion with Russia:

    And in 2016, of course, many, many Democrats kept insisting that the election had somehow been rigged by the Russian government, in collusion with the Trump campaign, and the US media went on to beclown itself with innuendo, rumor, and conspiracy theories for a very long time.

    While collusion with Russia wasn’t proven beyond the shadow of doubt, there was enough evidence to justify the investigation in the first place. Trump and his GOP henchmen were simply successful at blocking the investigation. The media support for this was just them doing their job. No way did Trump act like an innocent. This seems to come from Sullivan’s remaining Republican brain cells.

  7. I have been reluctant to call Trump a fascist because there were so many attributes of the fascist movement that Trump did not seem to share. Until the recent events, I dismissed most of his nonsense as just posturing, bravado and showmanship and thought that a lot of what circulated around left/liberal circles was exaggerated, and some of it false. However, after the 6th, and looking at what his circulating now, I can no longer dismiss him. Whether he personally technically is or not, it’s very clear that he is encouraging and egging on a lot of people who are overtly fascists.

    As for the Articles of Impeachment, my sense is that Trump may have a defense against the specific charge of inciting people to immediate violence. I don’t know enough to know how that plays out in the Senate trial and how legalistic that trial gets-assuming it happens. I think it would make sense to charge Trump with a broader charge of failure to uphold the Constitution.

    1. As has been mentioned a few times, by me and others, Trump doesn’t have to be shown to have immediately caused the violence to the level expected in a criminal trial. Basically, to be removed, the senators must be convinced that Trump’s behavior toward the threat was incompatible with remaining President. Lying about the election results, and egging on violent protestors to throw them out, ought to be enough. It’s not about committing a crime but being a bad president.

  8. Referring to Mr. Trump as a fascist is a serious insult—to Fascism. Benito Mussolini, the creator of
    Fascism, knew German and French as well as his native Italian, read books, wrote his own copy, knew how to count, and was rather canny about devising appeals to the Left as well as the Right (based on his earlier role as a firebrand Socialist journalist). The contrast with little Donnie speaks for itself.

    Little Donnie seemed to think that the gathering of his supporters in Washington DC would work out
    the same way as did Mussolini’s march on Rome in 1922. Not being a reader of History (or anything else), he evidently was unaware that neither VP Pence nor his appointees on the Supreme Court, nor anyone else in the US system, is analogous to King Victor Immanuel III who appointed Mussolini to
    office as a result of the march.

    Given little Donnie’s increasing delusions and his staggering incompetence, I think barring him from future runs for public office would make things too easy for the Republican Party. I look forward to his continued, frantic activity in the Republican Party, which richly deserves him.

  9. Populism used to mean appealing to the ordinary man against the established elites. The established elites don’t like that, so now it’s characterized as fascism. Nativism and chauvinism are also not exclusively fascist ideas. We’re back in the 1930s when the Soviets defined fascist as anything to the right of Stalin. The main purpose of painting Trump as a fascist is so that his supporters can be branded by association in a Democratic bid to eliminate competition rather than face up to the broad opposition to their policies. The calls for political exclusion, the purges from social media, even the calls for re-education are coming from the left, not the right. Remember when they come for the Republicans, to say nothing because you aren’t a Republican.

    1. Reading this one would think that a mob of Democrats just invaded the Capitol and threatened the lives of elected officials.

    2. “The calls for political exclusion, the purges from social media, even the calls for re-education are coming from the left, not the right.”

      Where else would you expect them to come from? It’s the Right that believes the loony and dangerous “stolen election” story. It’s the Right that invaded the Capitol with the intent of killing politicians and really stealing an election. When are YOU going to take responsibility for this stuff instead of pretending that this is just Left vs Right?

      1. “It’s the Right that believes the loony and dangerous “stolen election” story.”

        This time, yes, though more generally these days it seems that any side that loses by a margin of less than 2% — whether elections or referendums such as Brexit — cries “stolen election”, attributing that to fraud or to the Russkies or to Murdoch and his ilk, or to Cambridge Analytica, or to “fake news” and the “lies told during the campaign”.

        1. Apropos Brexit, there were indeed lies told by the Vote Leave campaign, but most of us on the Remain side accepted the result, even though we didn’t like it. We used democratic and legal options to try to ensure that Parliament would be involved in the implementation of Brexit. We did NOT storm Parliament with guns and flags to try to reverse the result.

          1. Apropos Brexit, there were indeed lies told by the Vote Leave campaign, …

            See what I mean? 🙂

            But you’re right, virtually the entire “Vote Leave” campaign was disinformation. Though virtually the entire “Remain” campaign was disinformation also.

            We did NOT storm Parliament with guns and flags to try to reverse the result.

            Agreed, I was not trying to excuse that.

              1. Virtually all of it, it seemed to consist mostly of “Project Fear”, which consisted of predicting that the consequences of Brexit would be everything from plagues of locusts to the death of every first-born son to World War Three. The part that wasn’t Project Fear consisted of non-stop denigration and character-assassination of anyone who might even consider voting “leave”.

                Absolutely none of it was a positive case for why the EU and “ever closer union” was a good thing to be part of going forward.

                Note: I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

              2. it seemed to consist mostly of “Project Fear”, which consisted of predicting that the consequences of Brexit would be everything from plagues of locusts to the death of every first-born son to World War Three

                Really? You think Remainers said all that stuff. Sorry, but that is complete bollocks of the same order as suggesting that Biden is a communist. Everything you have listed there is Leavers demonising Remainer arguments or poisoning the well.

                Absolutely none of it was a positive case for why the EU and “ever closer union” was a good thing to be part of going forward.

                Well, you simply weren’t listening to what the Remainers were saying. There was plenty of that.

                Note: I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

                You are not exaggerating, you are propagating lies. Please stop. It’s already damaged our country pretty severely.

              3. I’m not a Brit and only saw it from across the pond. What I remember was lots of warning and worry about how it would wreak havoc with transfer of products across the border, how travel would be impacted, how the Union would be threatened by Scotland being further motivated to separate, and such. Much of that seems to be true, as it happens. GDP has been reduced, as the Remainers asserted. From here they seem to have been far more honest/accurate than the guys who drove busses around with claims of boatloads of money suddenly being available for the NHS.

            1. First, they aren’t comparable to the UK. They are the two richest countries in Europe. Second, Switzerland has a long history of neutrality; until recently, it wasn’t even a member of the UN. Third, there have been several referenda, and the people clearly said no. Do you want to say that the will of the people in a clear and transparent and fair referendum should be overruled? Fourth, both countries cooperate much more with the EU than post-Brexit UK will. Fifth, both are part of the Schengen agreement, which means essentially no border controls with the EU. Sixth, the Nordic countries have long had a cooperation which in many respects is closer than that between EU countries. Seventh, real-goods exports between Switzerland and the EU, or Norway and the EU, are small. Norway has about 5 million people. The main exports are various forms of energy, not stuff in lorries waiting at the border.

              What other countries are not in the EU? Five small ones, essentially microstates, though cooperation is close (even including currency, which is more than some EU countries). Iceland, which is small and far away. The 6 poorest countries in Europe, on the Balkan peninsula. I don‘t see any of these as comparable to, or role models for, the UK.

        2. I’m sure you know it isn’t just mouthing the words “stolen election” that has Trump in trouble. Dems complained that the election was unfairly influenced by Russian hackers, which our intelligence services has confirmed. It is not unreasonable to hold the opinion that that comprises a stolen election, though perhaps it might be considered hyperbole. It is quite a different thing when someone challenges the actual count and loses in court but still insists the election is stolen. Quite a different thing.

    3. “The calls for political exclusion, the purges from social media, even the calls for re-education are coming from the left, not the right.”

      An inconvenient truth. You could also ask why the second impeachment was rushed through with no investigation, also pushed along by (mostly) the left.

      1. It’s not as if the president gathered a mob of insurrectionists and sent them to the Capitol forcing leftists like Liz Cheney to decide enough was enough.

    4. So tired of Republican’s (and religionist’s) playing the victim card. Just stop it. Your last sentence is pathetic and typical of the R stripe and spite and moving goal posts. Go away.

  10. What’s the typical politics of fascism? In his highly recommendable book, Jason Stanley mentions and discusses the following aspects:

    “Fascist politics includes many distinct strategies: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity.”

    (Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. New York: Random House, 2018. pp. xiv-xv)

  11. The fascist label is a trigger word that is unhelpful in simplifying Trump’s actions and ultimately, a distracting semantic debate. The single charge was presumably meant to expedite a vote in Congress as a mechanism to remove Trump from office with just two weeks left in his presidency. It does leave wiggle room as to whether his rally speech was direct incitement to violence. Two facts help establish his intent: 1) that he intended to march with the crowd but was dissuaded by Secret Service members who pleaded that they could not guarantee his safety and 2) his inaction and even glee at seeing the Capitol infiltrated, shots fired, and not intervening but leaving it to VP Pence to call in the National Guard.

    The impeachment is a legal case in which an indictment is brought. I agree with Sullivan that a better charge would be ‘a violation of his Oath as president to defend the Constitution by challenging the outcome of a free and fair election.’ This is the lie that many Republicans cling to who KNOW it was legitimate but persist in denying it was and know they themselves are lying. They know how elections work. So they expect us to believe that some grand conspiracy occurred across many red states wherein fellow Republicans were co-conspirators such as Republican election monitors and Republican judges who threw out essentially all of Trump’s court cases including SCOTUS wherein he recently added 3 new conservative judges. Further, denying the legitimacy of the election by instigating a protest march to stop Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional duty to certify the electoral college vote as well as not participating in the peaceful transfer of power is instantly grounds for impeachment and an overt violation of his Oath of Office.

    But, here we are.

    1. 1) that he intended to march with the crowd but was dissuaded by Secret Service members who pleaded that they could not guarantee his safety …

      I seriously doubt that Trump intended to march his lard ass a mile-and-a-half uphill. Hell, when he attended the 2017 G7 conference in Sicily, while EVERY other world leader present walked the 700 yards to the site of the group photograph, Trump had to be schlepped there by golf cart.

      Trump’s promise to his supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally to walk to the Capitol with them was just a line of bs meant to get them fired up.

      1. Ah, you’re probably right. Everything at Trump’s rallies is bluster for the cameras and applause lines for his personality cult. A stroll across the Mall is likely no different.

      2. hahaha, I concur counselor. Sicily was hilarious: “Who says we’re obese and lazy Americans?” I asked myself before I just sighed and cried a little.
        I think one of the heads of state actually jogged that uphill track. Not our boy Donnie: “Get the golf cart.”

        I used to live in DC – it is a long walk for a lard-ass and what sane secret service agent would want his/her charge surrounded by that mob of red faced Trump U. graduate MAGA dead enders anyway?

        Plus… that W.H. TV wasn’t going to watch itself!


      1. Not being a Christian American myself, I guess I am not used to a man in face paint with a megaphone leading a prayer on the Senate floor while people around him drape the “don’t tread on me” flag over their shoulders and lift their hands up to the sky. It’s just such a bizarre tableau.

  12. Regarding Joseph Goebbel’s Big Lie, Hermann Göring also propounded a similar view. Interviewed by Gustave Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials.

    Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

    Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

    Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

    1. It seems that Goring was right about one thing. It’s easy enough to get the masses behind a war, as unjustified as it may be, by appeals to phony patriotism and cries that the nation is under attack. This is not to say that involvement in some wars, such as World War II, is not totally justifiable, but if rulers want the nation to enter a war, justifiability is not a factor. Also, regarding the U.S., Congress has abdicated its war making role, not having declared one in almost 80 years.

      Of course, if a war turns out poorly, such as was the case for Russia, the Hapsburgs and Germany in World War I, the regime can be deposed.

  13. Nor is Trump a “populist” because, says Cohen, he’s not supporting the people against elites …

    Populism, for analytical purposes at least, comes in two forms — cultural and economic. (Sometimes, in praxis, the two overlap, and sometimes an individual will come along who is a proponent of both in equal measure. Huey P. Long comes to mind in this latter category, the Louisiana politician who rose to fame and to the cusp of national political power during the Great Depression by proclaiming “every man a king” in word and song and by pushing a “share the wealth” economic program.)

    Donald Trump is a cultural populist, a key indicator of which is an invariable preference for the low brow over the high. Trump rose to national prominence in the most low-brow new form of mass entertainment to emerge in the 21st century: (ir)reality tv. He is someone who, from all available evidence, has not once in his entire life read a book straight through front-to-back — someone who, in five years of running for and serving in the US presidency, has never once uttered a spontaneous literary, cultural, or historical allusion while speaking in public.

    When it comes to deed over word, on the other hand, Donald Trump is anything but an economic populist. His policies invariably favor the rich over the poor and middle classes, most egregiously the fat-cat tax cut he pushed through congress. And he has spent his entire life hobnobbing with other nouveau riche — among other people with more money than taste — at his glitzy trash-palace hotels and condominiums and country-club resorts.

    1. Trump’s populism is a lie, as usual (no surprise there). He doesn’t give a rat’s backside about the regular folk, or any folk. His populism is purely for personal gain, entirely insincere and he has nothing but contempt for his base.

  14. Calling Trump a fascist is using yesterday’s terminology to diagnose today’s problems. Trump is part of a modern trend of strongmen like Putin, Erdoğan, Duterte, and Modi.

    The 21st century strongman takes advantage of modern media and a divided electorate to get himself democratically elected, and then he hollows out democracy. His administration relies on demagoguery and tactics from the populist playbook to keep supporters in a frenzy, but his government is primarily interested in kleptocracy and patronage. It is authoritarian not out of any established ideology but simply because it does not believe any obstacles should get in the way of the strongman’s quest for wealth and the power to maintain it.

    Luckily for us all, Trump was elected in a country with a stronger tradition of democracy than Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, or India. He also lacked the intelligence, drive, and organizational skill to turn America into a sham democracy under the permanent rule of a strongman. But there are plenty of Republicans out there who’d like to try and might do a better job.

  15. “POPULISM. The policies or principles of any of various political parties which seek to represent the interests of ordinary people, spec. of the Populists of the U.S. or Russia. Also: support for or representation of ordinary people or their views; speech, action, writing, etc., intended to have general appeal.”

    I will put on my To Do List to look at the definition of “Elitism.”

    The NY Times, inter alia, have assiduously criticized populists, the ordinary people. (I don’t recall the Times particularly assailing Hillary Clinton for her view of populists as “the deplorables.”) Their critique of elites pales in comparison. The Founding Fathers viewed “The People” as “The Beast,” the ignorant, illiterate mob, the Great Unwashed. (Re: George Bernard Shaw’s wanting the poor to take a bath, not for their sake but for his.) At the same time, not a few of the People manifestly display their disdain for logical, rational thinking and for intellectual curiosity, and display their propensity for conspiracy thinking. Apparently, anything is true simply and solely because someone thinks/says so.

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