Would-be ‘strongman' Trump is attempting a coup — and most of his party is silent: Turkish journalist

Would-be ‘strongman' Trump is attempting a coup — and most of his party is silent: Turkish journalist
The White House.

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish journalist who now lives in the United States and teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has been warning that President Donald Trump's authoritarianism should not be taken lightly. Tufekci revisits that subject in article published in The Atlantic on December 7, stressing that whether or not Trump's attempt to overthrow the United States' 2020 election results is successful, Americans should be worried that he is even trying it in the first place.

"The U.S. president is trying to steal the election, and crucially, his party either tacitly approves or is pretending not to see it," Tufecki warns. "This is a particularly dangerous combination, and makes it much more than just typical Trumpian bluster or norm shattering."

The Istanbul native opens her article by describing the various coups d'état that members of her family observed living in Turkey. And the events following the United States' 2020 election, she warns, give Tufecki — to use another French phrase that has been imported into the English language — a sense of déjà vu.

"In English, only one widely understood word captures what Donald Trump is trying to do, even though his acts do not meet its technical definition," Tufecki explains. "Trump is attempting to stage some kind of coup, one that is embedded in a broader and ongoing power grab. And if that's hard to recognize, this might be your first."

Americans, Tufecki argues, don't have first-hand experience with coups d'état. But when she appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on December 8 to discuss her Atlantic article, she stressed that if the events following the 2020 presidential election were happening in other parts of the world, it would be reported as an attempted coup d'état by a would-be "strongman."

Tufecki told "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, "This is an attempt to steal an election…. The fact that Republican leaders are not standing up to (Trump) makes it dangerous….. 74 million people voted for him, and all they're hearing is that the election was stolen from him."

In her Atlantic piece, Tufecki describes recent events in the U.S. — and she argues, in essence, that they are characteristic of a banana republic.

The Turkish journalist observes, "The president and his key allies have repeatedly called for Republican state legislators to steal the election for him by appointing new electors who will support him instead of backing the winner of the state's electoral votes…. The president's high-profile allies are holding rallies where supporters are chanting 'Lock him up!,' calling for the imprisonment of Georgia's Republican governor, who is opposing his attempts to steal the election…. The president's election lawyer said that 'the entire election, frankly, in all the swing states, should be overturned, and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump'…. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser — a powerful post — who was just pardoned by Trump, has amplified calls for the president to suspend the Constitution and hold another election."

In an Atlantic article published on November 6, Tufecki warned that although Trump is a buffoon, a future would-be strongman might have a lot more self-discipline. And in her latest Atlantic piece, Tufecki warns Americans that democracy isn't something they can take for granted.

"We're being tested, and we're failing," Tufecki says of her adopted country. "The next attempt to steal an election may involve a closer election and smarter lawsuits. Imagine the same playbook executed with better decorum, a president exerting pressure that is less crass and issuing tweets that are more polite. If most Republican officials are failing to police this ham-handed attempt at a power grab, how many would resist a smoother, less grossly embarrassing effort?"


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