Here's why Republicans who are calling for a Trump dictatorship should not be taken lightly — and aren’t going away

Here's why Republicans who are calling for a Trump dictatorship should not be taken lightly — and aren’t going away
The Conversation
Trump condemned for White House 'dictator' statement to cast doubt on election results

The United States dodged an authoritarian bullet when former Vice President Joe Biden, a centrist Democrat, became president-elect, winning 306 electoral votes and defeating defeated President Donald Trump by more than 6 million in the popular vote. But when Republican Lin Wood, a pro-Trump attorney who has been fighting the election results in Georgia, implores Trump to impose martial law and elections officials are receiving death threats for acknowledging Biden as president-elect, it is painfully obvious that there is a strong appetite for fascism in parts of the United States. And journalist Sasha Abramsky, in an article published by The Nation on December 4, warns that Republicans who are openly calling for fascism should not be taken lightly.

"We are less than seven weeks away from the inauguration, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't counting down the seconds," Abramsky writes. "For the last spasms of Trumpist rule are truly a sight and sound to behold. Trumpism is, at this point, nothing more than a blend of cultism and fascism — a violent, nihilistic howl against the pillars of American democracy unparalleled in presidential history."

Abramsky adds, however, that when "people surrounding Trump are calling for dictatorship," it "ought to send a chill up all Americans' spines." And Abramsky cites some specific examples of Trumpistas who haven't been shy about showing their authoritarianism.

"Trump campaign attorney Joe DiGenova said that Chris Krebs, the election security official whom Trump fired by tweet last month after he defended the integrity of the election, should be 'drawn and quartered' and 'taken out at dawn and shot,'" Abramsky observes. "Stalin couldn't have said it better himself when talking about his perceived enemies in the Soviet bureaucracy. Former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell…. retweeted a call to invoke the Insurrection Act, suspend the meeting of the Electoral College and set up military tribunals to deal with Trump's enemies. The following day, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, coming off a recent presidential pardon from Trump, urged his erstwhile boss to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, and order new presidential elections under the supervision of the military."

Abramsky adds, "Far-right media personalities have joined the fascist clamor. Lou Dobbs of Fox Business recently called for Trump to take unspecified 'drastic action' against his enemies. The One America News Network has also suggested that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act as a way to remain in office."



The journalist stresses that "when a fanatical movement's hold on power starts to diminish, the extremists have a tendency to eat their own." And Abramsky points to the recent attacks on Attorney General William Barr from the far right as a disturbing example.

Barr has been one of Trump's most aggressive defenders, often inspiring unflattering comparisons to the late Republican attorney Roy Cohn (who was an ally of Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s and represented Trump during the 1970s). But Barr, during an interview with the Associated Press, essentially acknowledged Biden as president-elect and said there was no evidence that widespread voter fraud swung the election in Biden's favor — and Trumpistas like Dobbs are furious with Barr for it.

It should be noted that far-right fascists don't necessarily come to power through a violent coup d'état or golpe de estado; sometimes, they are voted into office and try to gradually undermine a democracy's system of checks and balances. That has happened in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in Hungary with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and hopefully, Brazil's checks and balances will withstand the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Meanwhile, in France, far-right white nationalist Marine Le Pen (leader of the National Front) lost the country's 2017 presidential race but is likely to run for president again.

Most Americans rejected fascism in the United States' 2020 presidential election. But Abramsky warns that the appetite for fascism in the U.S. hasn't gone away.

"Trump's fascist yammering and the GOP Senate's collaborationist behavior isn't just a footnote to the 2020 election campaign," Abramsky warns. "Rather, it's a prologue to what could come next…. The GOP as an institution has entirely abandoned its commitment to the democratic process…. It's a hell of a warning shot as to how the Grand Old Party intends to conduct itself in the months and years ahead."

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