Robert Freeman

'The end of Enlightenment': Historian explains why Republican discourse is 'the very antithesis of Reason'

The Enlightenment was a time of intellectual ferment in the Western world following the Middle Ages. Its ideas gave birth to the modern world.

We know the Enlightenment from the names of its most brilliant expositors: Francis Bacon, John Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Adam Smith, and others. We know its ideas as the foundation of our social world: the social contract, the rule of reason, the rule of law, consent of the governed, natural rights, constitutionalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and others.

The Republican agenda is a direct assault on all of that. It literally aims to return America to the pre-modern, pre-Enlightened darkness of the Middle Ages. If it succeeds, it will reverse more than three hundred years of human progress.

The most egregious of Republican assaults on the modern world is its rejection of Reason. Reason is the way we know what we know. It is not through revelations from God, or the pronouncements of priests or monarchs as had been the case before the Enlightenment.

Reason as a process for discovering Truth started in the Scientific Revolution around 1550. It was so powerful a way of knowing the physical world, the philosophers of the Enlightenment adopted it for knowing—and improving—the social world. It became the foundation of all subsequent Enlightenment thought, and all modern institutions.

The Republican broadside against Reason was on display in the first days of the Trump administration when Trump asserted that his inauguration crowd size was the largest in history. Presented with facts to the contrary, in photographic evidence, his assistant, Kellyanne Conway, proclaimed the existence of "alternative facts." It's been downhill since.

Republican discourse is a never-ending torrent of lies, idiocies, and absurdities—the very antithesis of Reason. The Muslim invasion. The caravan bringing murderers, rapists, drugs, and disease. Democrats eating babies. A satanic cult of pedophiles running the "Deep State." A pandemic that would "disappear, like a miracle." The greatest economy in the history of the world. Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head being canceled. Biden's hamburger ban. A rigged election. Massive voter fraud. Terrorists who were really just tourists handing out hugs and kisses. It never ends.

The Republican assault on Reason is an attack not just on truth itself, but on our very capacity to think at all. With their base, Republicans address not the neo-cortex—the thinking part of the brain—but the amygdala—the lizard-brain seat of fight-or-flight. The amygdala subordinates logic, facts, reason, and deliberation to deceit, conspiracy, hysteria, and fear.

It's easier to trigger hatred and fear than thinking and logic. That's why Republicans do it. That's why their base—and increasingly, their "leaders"—sound like zombies, like robots, like members of a cult when they're interviewed for the evening news. They are. They've been programmed to fear and hate and blame, and the reinforcement is unending, because, to work, it has to be. Otherwise, they become unprogrammed.

It doesn't matter that none of the endless effusion of lies ever turn out to be true or that they are routinely, repeatedly abandoned in favor of newer lies for the next news cycle. What matters is that the lies incite indignation, and that the dopamine high that follows gets its constant, programmed, ever-increasing reinforcement.

Trump's 35,000 documented lies are the embodiment of it all. It is a leprous, insidious disease, an inability to deal with reality, but literally the one by which Republicans define themselves. Glandular excretions are the Republican formula for generating voter turnout: inciting Pavlovian rage based on a torrential fantasmia of lurid lies. It works, but it is the living, suppurating antithesis of Reason.

Another Republican assault on the legacy of the Enlightenment is the attack on Democracy. It was John Locke who, in 1689, wrote that people who were able to think could not be bullied like ignorant people could. If government wanted thinking people's cooperation it could no longer rely on the medieval divine right of kings. It needed to obtain "the consent of the governed." This, of course, became a sacrament of the American political order.

The opening words of the Constitution are, "We the people of the United States…" That is not a paean to monarchy, or to dictatorship. It is a statement that the consent of the people—and only that consent—provides a government its legitimacy. But Republicans are working feverishly to overturn the consent of the governed, to destroy Democracy.

Their assault on the Capitol on January 6th was the most conspicuous effort to overthrow the legitimately elected government of the United States but it was not the first and will certainly not be the last. Republicans insist that their reason-denying mobs, their goons, their Brownshirts will tell the rest of us how we will be governed. No consent involved, only submission: ours. You can see this in their fevered efforts at voter suppression, explicitly preventing majority rule and the consent of the governed.

Republicans cannot win power on the strength of their ideas and policies. They lost the presidency, the Senate, and the House. Large majorities favor policies backed by Democrats. So, they need to destroy Democracy itself to gain power. To do that, they need to destroy Reason as the way we know what we know. That is the core, the essence, the modus operandi of the Republican enterprise.

Constitutionalism is a third Enlightenment ideal that Republicans are intent on destroying. A constitution defines how a country is to be governed. Before constitutions, it was autocracy that called the shots. Think of Louis XIV's notorious declaration: "I am the state." Decisions were made by caprice, by the rich and powerful, in their own interests, everyone else be damned. Constitutionalism embeds the Rule of Law—another Enlightenment ideal—into a society, making "equal treatment under the law" a modern treasure, however badly it may be realized.

Besides losing all of the branches of the federal government, Republicans failed over and over and over to persuade the judicial branch to sanction their usurpation of the Constitution. So, they resort to performative charades like the farcical ballot laundering farrago in Arizona to try to undo the Constitutionally-ordained process for the peaceful transfer of power. Now, they're taking it to other states. It will not end.

We could go on. Republicans want to destroy the social contract—another Enlightenment ideal—that says you get ahead on the basis of hard work. They insist, instead, that privilege should be based on race, with the best spots reserved for whites. This violates the Enlightenment ideal of equality for all.

Remember the opening words of the Declaration of Independence? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Pure Enlightenment. In the Republican world, however, like in Orwell's Animal Farm which was an allegory of the degradation of Soviet totalitarianism, all men are created equal, but some—whites—are more equal than others.

We should be clear. This is not about peripheral protests over policy preferences. It is a broadside against the foundation, the institutional undergirding of our civilization. It is an attempt to destroy the conceptual milieu that has survived for centuries and that, however flawed it may be, has delivered the greatest freedom, expansion of rights, material progress, and human opportunity the world has ever known.

The measure of our alarm should be that Republicans, with the help of a complicit media, have managed to normalize rampant public lying, the unrestrained desecration of Reason, are carrying out an open, unabashed attack on our democracy, are carrying out notorious, savage assaults on Constitutionalism, the Rule of Law, Equality, and more. Our nation is literally under attack by anti-Enlightenment zealots determined to tear it down and it's not at all clear that they will not succeed.

It is indicative that the Republican party's highest priest is a thrice-married pathological liar, an admitted sexual assaulter, a draft dodger, a six-time filer for bankruptcy, a man who inflicted hundreds of thousands of excess deaths on the country, was twice impeached, who lost two successive popular vote counts, and who then attempted to overthrow the government. Read that sentence again and think about its implication.

The Republican hero, the man they model themselves on, the one they want us to bow down to, is a failed business man, a failed reality TV star, a failed president, a career con man who is the most corrupt, certainly the most craven and creepy individual ever known to American politics. This is the best Republicans have to offer. That is who they are, and what they insist on inflicting on all the rest of us, our consent be damned.

The Enlightenment helped the world replace monarchy with republicanism, a world ruled by theology with a world of science, autocracy with the rule of law, aristocratic privilege with the equality of all men, and feudalism with capitalism. No matter how imperfectly it may have been realized, it was as noble a vision as human beings have ever devised. The two worlds are the difference between the "Dark Ages" that went before and the modern world. That is the Republicans' promise to America.

More regression. More destruction of beautiful ideals and noble institutions. More degradation of deserving people. More humiliation of undignified people, themselves being the examples. More carnage. More chaos. More slime spewed on everyone.

There's not a syllable of inspiring vision in anything they have to say, not a word of uplifting ideals in any of it. It is all pathetic self-victimization and a lust for vengeance against those who refuse to respect them. We must all be dragged into the sewer that spawned, that is, and that sustains Donald Trump. That is his and Republicans' retaliation against a people who once had the temerity to believe in majestic ideals, the audacity to strive for them, and who once imagined that they might even be worthy of them.

The rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer. That is exactly the plan

The reason everybody is so angst-ridden about the economy is because we all have the wrong idea about what it is supposed to do and how it's supposed to work.

Most of us have a quaint, 19th century idea about free markets and all that up-by-the-bootstraps Horatio Alger stuff. You know, work hard, play by the rules, keep your nose clean, and you'll do well. That is certainly the cultural myth our society bathes us in.

But that's not how things actually work. It's the dissonance between how we imagine things work and how they really work that causes our perplexity and angst, and rage. It is also that dissonance that has been so deftly manipulated by Donald Trump and given rise to Trumpism.

Forty years ago, around 1980, the uber-wealthy decided they wanted to get their money out of the economy. There was too much political turmoil (Vietnam, Watergate), too much economic turbulence (Arab oil embargos, stagflation), and too high of a cost of production (high wages, environmental and labor protections).

They wanted to take their money somewhere where they could pay people 1/20th what they paid here (less than $1 an hour), where there were no environmental or labor laws, where the workforce was plentiful, hungry, and docile, and where politicians could be bought cheap.

So, they engineered a controlled demolition of the U.S. economy. The plan had two elements.

In the first part, they began systematically de-industrializing what had been the mightiest economy in the history of the world—the same economy that had almost single-handedly won World War II, the greatest industrial enterprise ever undertaken. They dismantled tens of thousands of factories, creating what became known as the "Rust Belt." They literally sent factory designs to east Asia, rebuilt them, and when they were ready to go, flipped the switch, shut down here, and opened up there. The consequences were devastating.

Tens of millions of white, working-class factory workers were put out of work, losing their high-paying jobs. Forever. With nothing to replace them. Major cities became hollowed out hulks of a once-glorious industrial past, bywords for decline. Think Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Toledo, and more. The data tell the story.

In 1980, manufacturing accounted for about 22% of the U.S. economy. By 2012, just 30 years later, it contributed only 12%, an astonishingly rapid decline in historical terms, effectively a controlled demolition. The U.S. trade deficit, where we buy more from other countries than we sell, went from $19 billion in 1980—pretty close to a rounding error—to what looks to be almost $1 trillion this year. That is money that is sent directly out of the country to buy other countries' goods. $1 trillion.

The second element of the controlled demolition of the economy was that the U.S. embarked on a plan to shift massive shares of U.S. income and wealth from the working and middle classes to the already wealthy. This is what was called "supply side economics." It was Ronald Reagan's signature economic policy when he ran for president in 1980.

The mythical story was that if we all gave more of our money to the already wealthy, they would invest it for us and the resulting economic boom would more than pay back the transfer, even after taxes and inflation. It sounded too good to be true. It was.

Taxes on the highest income brackets were lowered from 71% to 38%, essentially cut in half. Importantly, there was no requirement that the beneficiaries actually invest their new-found gains in the U.S. So, they didn't. They invested them in the those east-Asian countries that were the beneficiaries of the deindustrialization discussed above.

What happened?

In the first full year under Reagan's plan, the economy shrunk by 2.1%, the greatest shrinkage since the Great Depression. Factory workers were out of work, so they weren't paying taxes. And, because the wealthy were paying so much fewer taxes, the government didn't have enough income to cover its expenses. It had to make up the difference by borrowing. That is what is called a "budget deficit."

Jimmy Carter's last budget deficit was $78 billion. Reagan's first full-year budget deficit, after his supply side tax cuts were put in place, was $128 billion, a 64% increase. The next year, 1983, the deficit exploded again, to $208 billion, another 63% increase. By 1992, when Reagan's vice president, George H.W. Bush finished office, the deficits were running $300 billion a year.

Of course, annual deficits accumulate into the national debt. When Reagan took office in 1981, the national debt (the accumulation of all the annual deficits since the country began) was $1 trillion. In 1993, just 12 years later, when George H.W. Bush left office, it was $4 trillion. Think about that.

Over 204 years, paying off the costs of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, building out the entire continent, fighting World War I, surviving the Great Depression, fighting and winning World War II, and winning the better part of the Cold War, the country only had to borrow $1 trillion. Then, in the next 12 years, years of peace and prosperity, that debt quadrupled, to $4 trillion.

These deficits and this debt benefit the very wealthy, because it is they who fund them, who loan the money to the government, at interest, that it has to borrow because it can't pay its bills from the taxes it's no longer bringing in. As with the deindustrializing of the economy, this was exactly the plan: to benefit the wealthiest people in the world.

Today, average working-class wages, adjusted for taxes and inflation, are the same as they were in the 1970s. For a stark comparison, average incomes in China are up more than 10 FOLD over the same period. This is why the U.S. has massive civil tension among its people and record distrust of the government while the people of China are ferociously loyal to their government.

The annual trade deficit—that money we ship out of the country to buy things we don't make anymore—is on track to exceed $1 trillion this year. That's $1 trillion taken straight off the top of what would otherwise be available national income, and shipped abroad. The national debt has exploded beyond belief, to over $27 trillion. This year's increment, the annual budget deficit, will exceed $4 trillion. That's four times as much as was incurred in the first 204 years of the country, combined. This is not a picture of economic vibrancy.

For the past forty years, the government has had to run average budget deficits of $675 billion a year just to keep the holes in the economy plugged. Otherwise, it would have fallen into recession, or depression. And the borrowing is going vertical.

This is a tremendous boon to the very wealthy because, as mentioned above, it is they who loan the government all that money. And importantly, they do so at higher interest rates because when anything is in higher demand, in this case, borrowed money, its price goes up. The price of borrowed money is the interest rate. But wait, it gets better—or worse—depending on whether you are a borrower or a lender.

Higher interest rates in one part of the economy mean higher rates in all of the economy, because the pool of loanable funds is essentially the same pool for all. That means that when budget deficits rise, the interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, automobiles, student loans—anything bought on borrowed money—goes up, too. This is a stealth way for the government to transfer still more money to the already wealthy, but with the appearance that it's an arms-length private transaction, between borrowers and lenders, involving interest rates.

What does all of this add up to?

For the four decades between 1940 and 1980, the share of national income that went to the top 10% of income earners was remarkably stable, around 34%. This included those decades that are generally regarded as "the golden age of capitalism"

But in the four decades since 1980, the share of the same top 10% has skyrocketed to 47%, a breathtaking upward shift in national income to those who are already the richest. The upward distribution of wealth over the same period is actually even greater.

It's a cliché, but like so many cliches, it is grounded in reality. The rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer. That is exactly the plan, and the plan is working exactly as intended. In fact, it is accelerating, as every new crisis becomes a new pretext for ladling more and more and more of the nation's wealth into the coffers of the already wealthy.

Inequality is reaching feudal proportions, where very few own almost everything, and everyone else is crushed under the wheel of engineered destitution. This directly degrades democracy, because since it costs so much to run for office, office seekers pay attention to those who can write big checks. Have you written a $50,000 check to an office seeker lately? No? Again, that is exactly the plan. They don't want to hear from you because you can't help fund their expensive campaigns. But write a big check and you'd be amazed at how fast the doors fly open.

Two last, quick words on the politics of this all. Donald Trump has been stunningly successful for the very wealthy which is part of the reason they have backed him. He passed massive tax cuts that accelerated the upward transfer of wealth. But that is actually the lesser part of what makes him so valuable to the wealthy.

The far greater part is that he has re-directed the rage of the dispossessed, downwardly-mobile working class from the economic system that has caused their distress—those intentional policies mentioned above—to the altogether bogus factor of race. This has shielded the wealthy from being held accountable for having engineered and built an economy that has intentionally shafted the vast majority of its own citizens.

The mainstream media has been altogether complicit in this deception, focusing, laser-like, on the racist dimensions of Trump's issuances, but almost never on the much more legitimate economic origins of his base's rage. This is perfectly understandable because the mainstream media is owned by the very wealthy. They use it to condition cultural awareness of vital issues in ways that benefit them, like when they laundered the idiocy of supply side economics as some kind of divination come down from the mountain on stone tablets that would save the country.

The second political point is that we would be worse than naïve, even worse than stupid if we imagine that Joe Biden is going to do anything at all about this. We would be deceitful. Biden is one of the doyens, the stewards, the consiglieres of the neo-liberal order described here. He has spent almost five decades servicing the interests of the very wealthy who put him in power and kept him there and recalled him to service when it became apparent that Trump's utility had been exhausted. They didn't use to call him "The Senator from MasterCard" for nothing.

Biden is already discovering that there's not enough in the coffer to afford the kind of stimulus needed to simply feed people, to keep them housed, to help small businesses stay alive, to help schools reopen. But watch, he'll find plenty of money for weapons makers, for the Federal Reserve to buy the garbage debt of over-leveraged corporations, money for hospital chains and pharmaceutical companies, and for banks, and for all the members of the neo-feudal aristocracy that he helped build and who are our new masters.

The economy is working exactly as it is intended to work, the way it has been designed to work, to benefit the wealthy and to crush everybody else. The problem for the mass of the rest of us is that we didn't get the memo.

Here's the real reason Trump is running scared from another debate

One of the most memorable scenes in movie history is from The Wizard of Oz. The wearied travelers have finally made it to the Emerald City. They find themselves in the Inner Sanctum before Oz himself.

There, a gaseous phantasm is erupting before them, thundering, "I am Oz, the Great and Powerful!" The travelers are terrified, and cowed, and rightly so. It is little Toto who proves the hero of the day, scampering across the floor and pulling back the curtain.

There, frantically working the machinery of his illusion, is "Oz," not great and powerful but small and pitiful. He manages to make the machine bellow one last time, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" But the scam is blown. The travelers cannot unsee what they've seen. Nor, are they stupid.

The scene—in fact, the whole movie—is a cinematic adaptation of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, one of the most important lessons in the history of philosophy.

In the Allegory, people sit chained in a cave, facing a wall. On the wall dance shadows, created by motion and light somewhere behind the people but which they cannot see. Not knowing the source of the shadows, they imagine them to be reality.

Plato's message is that "reality" is not what you imagine it to be, but something far more profound that you cannot see, something creating illusions that you mistake for reality. Look beyond sensations to understand what is actually bringing your illusions into being. THAT is reality.

In the past two weeks, we have witnessed the Wizard of Oz moment of the 2020 presidential election.

In his first debate performance, Donald Trump revealed himself to be a modern-day Wizard of Oz. His whole presidency, his entire public persona, is a fraud, built on his furiously working the machinery of media to create the illusion of prowess, of success. But the debate pulled back the curtain and, just as the travelers in the movie, we cannot unsee what we have seen. We're not that stupid.

In the debate, Trump revealed himself to be the bully, the fraud, and the repellent human being he actually is. A second-term election is rightly a referendum on the incumbent but Trump couldn't debate his accomplishments for they are so devastatingly, unambiguously negative.

The worst pandemic in a century (200,000+ dead with almost 8 million infected) when other countries made it a routine matter of public health management. The worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, with the greatest collapse in GDP (32% annualized in Q2), the highest number of people unemployed (56 million), the greatest runup in public debt ($6.3 trillion), an explosion in the trade deficit.

The negative superlatives (negerlatives?) go on ad nauseum. Should we go on?

The desecration of fundamental pillars of the state and society including the rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, the media as a mechanism for informing the people. Pre-delegitimizing the sanctity of elections, indeed of democracy itself, as predicate for denouncing his imminent, humiliating defeat. Sabotaging the Post Office in a transparent attempt to impede the counting of mail-in ballots, heavily favored by Democratic voters. Should we go on?

The worst race relations in half a century. Basic civility in public discourse defiled. Rampant, unchecked lying about almost everything. Nakedly succoring white supremacists and right-wing terrorists. The denigration of relations with other countries and alliances (think NATO). America's reputation as a reliable leader of the international community debauched. Think the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. We could go on.

Trump was desperate to not have these "accomplishments" a matter of public debate. So, he literally trashed the event itself, making himself so obnoxious that that became the walkaway. But pull back the curtain of Trump being an asshole and we have the reality staring us in the face of Trump being a failure. A colossally destructive failure. That is the reality he desperately needed to prevent us from seeing.

He was equally desperate to not have exposed his ideas for a second term because, just like his past, his intended future is so anathema to the public will.

He was desperate to not have on the record that he is doing all he possibly can—including litigating it at the Supreme Court right now—to destroy the Affordable Care Act with its protections of pre-existing conditions. If he is successful, 20 million people will lose their insurance. In the middle of a pandemic, with almost 8 million people already infected, that is almost suicidal. Yet, that is Trump's position.

He was equally desperate to not have Amy Coney Barrett's opposition to Roe v. Wade made explicit as it so violates most Americans'—certainly, women's—preferences that the government not control a woman's body. Hemorrhaging support from women, as he now is, that, too would be catastrophic to his chances for re-election.

Underwater with seniors (a remarkable reversal from 2016), he couldn't survive a discussion of his stated plans to eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. His suspension of the payroll withholding tax does exactly that and Trump has stated publicly that if re-elected he would make the suspension permanent. Not how you win back seniors.

Since the first debate, two more events have helped pull back the curtain, exposing the "wizard" for the fraud that he is.

The New York Times revealed that in 10 of the past 15 years, Trump paid no federal income tax. He is either not the successful business mogul that he's long pretended to be or he's a massive tax cheat. Those are the only possible interpretations, although both could be true.

The whole of Trump's public persona is built—wizard-like—on the illusion that he is a billionaire, a successful real estate developer, a savvy businessman, a cunning deal maker. To be sure, he played a billionaire on TV but the Times' revelations show him to be a massive loser, a catastrophically failed businessman, deeply in debt, a serial tax cheat. Everything the persona is not.

And who, by the way, does Trump owe those hundreds of millions of dollars to, and what favors are they receiving in return for not foreclosing on him? Those are legitimate questions that the public has a right to know answers to. Given his perplexing subservience to the likes of Putin and Erdogan, the suspected answers are disquieting. You would think he would want to dispel doubts. If he could. Wouldn't he?

The second post-first-debate revelation that proves Trump to be the fraud that he is, is the fact of his contracting coronavirus. The whole of his shtick on the virus was that it was a hoax, that it was no worse than the flu, that it would go away when the weather got warm, and disappear, "like a miracle," that masks were for pansies and wimps.

All of that is blown to smithereens. Trump has the greatest protective resources in the world at his disposal but he still could not protect his own family—his own wife—from the virus. How can he possibly protect the American people? What can he say?

Of course, this detonation was actually begun by the Woodward tapes showing Trump knew in January exactly how deadly and transmissible the virus was, yet repeatedly, relentlessly lied about it. A more sinister, homicidal betrayal of the American people and the public trust could not be contrived.

Indeed, since we now know that Trump knew in great detail how deadly the virus was, yet lied repeatedly about it, preventing a successful public response, it is plausible to conjecture whether he might not be the most successful bio-terrorist in history. Who else could possibly challenge him?

These are the real reasons Trump fled a second debate. If his track record was good, he would have no problem defending it. If his plans were inspiring, he would jump at the chance of extolling them. If his personal situation was exemplary, he would be the first to have it bared to the public. Wouldn't he?

But he stands exposed before the American people like the little fraud from the movie, bellowing pathetically, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain? It's all fake news!" But, just like the "wizard" in the movie, that little man behind the curtain is the real Donald Trump. A fraud and a failure.

The saving grace in The Wizard of Oz is that the travelers finally discovered the truth. Until the curtain was pulled back, they were destined to live, bewildered, in a world of fantasy. It's the same with the denizens in Plato's cave. Until they can see and understand the source of the shadows dancing on the wall of the cave they are destined to live in illusion, which in Plato's world, as in our own, is suffering.

It is the same with this election.

We've now seen the curtain pulled back on Trump, exposing his deceit, his venality, his corruption, his phoniness, his vacuity, his pettiness, and his immaturity. He desperately needs to avoid another withering exposure that another debate would cement. That is why, true to the coward that he is, he's hiding from it.

For Dorothy, her escape from fantasy came with the intonation, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." For us, the intonation is "There's no escape but voting. There's no escape but voting." And it's just as true. Fortunately, for us there are no ruby slippers required.

Robert Freeman is the author of The Best One Hour History series which includes World War I, The InterWar Years, The Cold War, and other titles. He is the founder of The Global Uplift Project which builds small-scale infrastructure projects in the developing world to improve humanity's capacity for self-development.

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How bad does it have to get? Here are 30 reasons why Trump represents the worst of America's political system

  • It’s bad enough that he lost the election by 3,000,000 popular votes.
  • It’s bad enough that the Russians helped him get elected by manipulating social media in critical electoral college states.
  • It’s bad enough that he helped the Russians do that by providing them confidential polling data to guide their Facebook ad targeting.
  • It’s bad enough that those ads were seen by more than 100,000,000 people when the total electoral college difference over three states was 70,000 votes.
  • It’s bad enough that those involved with his campaign who were also engaged with the Russians lied repeatedly, both publicly and under oath, about that engagement.
  • It’s bad enough that many tens of millions of dollars mysteriously disappeared from his inauguration committee, and he feels no compunction to explain where it went.
  • It’s bad enough that he brags about groping women and grabbing them by the pussy.  Is there an honest woman in the country who admires that?  Wants that?
  • It’s bad enough that he’s been credibly accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women.
  • It’s bad enough that he is an unindicted co-conspirator in the felony to commit election finance fraud by paying hush money to a Playboy bunny and a porn star.
  • It’s bad enough that he filed for bankruptcy six times, stiffing workers, contractors, and lenders for tens of millions of dollars.
  • It’s bad enough that his resorts and other properties for years hired undocumented aliens, even as he railed against a “tidal wave” of illegal immigrants.
  • It’s bad enough that he inherited $413,000,000 from his father, much of it through illegal tax dodges, but pretends to be a self-made man.
  • It’s bad enough that his “charitable” foundation was ordered shut down after having been revealed to be a sham, used to help promote his business and political interests.
  • It’s bad enough he claims he was a good student, but threatens to sue any schools that release his grades.
  • It’s bad enough he claims to be a brilliant businessman but refuses to release his taxes which would prove it.  Or, disprove it.
  • It’s bad enough that he says the Mueller report “totally exonerates” him, yet refuses to allow it to be released, or, for critical witnesses to be able to testify about it.
  • It’s bad enough that he grossly understated the value of his assets to dodge taxes, while grossly overstating their value to secure bank loans.
  • It’s bad enough that the Mueller report detailed 10 instances of obstruction of justice that would be criminal, were he not the president and, so, immune from indictment.
  • It’s bad enough that he’s a pathological liar, telling almost 10,000 lies since assuming office, literally not being able to deal with reality.
  • It’s bad enough, his boot-licking of Putin at Helsinki, where he said he believed Putin about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but not his own intelligence chiefs.
  • It’s bad enough that he has separated thousands of immigrant children from their parents, put them in cages, and then lost track of them.
  • It’s bad enough that he praised neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville two years ago, then re-defended them just a few days ago.
  • It’s bad enough that, though sworn to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, he told immigration officials to break the law, promising to pardon them if they were convicted.
  • It’s bad enough that he told senior White House aides to lie to the Mueller commission about his efforts to obstruct the same commission’s investigation.
  • It’s bad enough that he smeared a Gold Star Family whose son was killed in Iraq.
  • It’s bad enough that he repeatedly smeared bona-fide Vietnam war hero, John McCain, while he, himself, wrangled five draft deferments to dodge service in the same war.
  • It’s bad enough he promised to help the working man, but immediately passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that went almost exclusively to corporations and the wealthy.
  • It’s bad enough he continues to claim he’s building The Wall when not a single inch of new wall has been built since he took office.
  • It’s bad enough he promised to protect Social Security but just two weeks ago submitted a budget that cuts benefits to millions, including seniors in poverty.
  • It’s bad enough that he refuses to cooperate with Congressional hearings, trashing the Constitution and the checks and balances at the very heart of our form of government.

We could go on. And on.  And on.  And on.  But as bad as all of this is, the real question is, “When does it get so bad that we will no longer tolerate this scum running the country, dividing us against each other, desecrating our values, degrading our civic spaces, and destroying our institutions?”  When does it get bad enough that WE will actually do something to stop being so mocked, so humiliated, and so defiled?  When will we have Republican Congressmen who will get up off their knees before him and represent us, the people who actually elected them, and defend our country against the greatest domestic threat it has faced in over a century?

Does America Face the Risk of a Fascist Backlash?

In early 1919, Germany put in place a new government to begin rebuilding the country after its crushing defeat in World War I. But the right-wing forces that had led the country into the War and lost the War conspired even before it was over to destroy the new government, the "Weimar Republic." They succeeded.

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