To coup or not to coup, is that the question?

One-term Trump,

To coup or not to coup, is that the question? Or is the real question ‘to play at coup but not to coup’? Or what? What are you doing? Where are you going with all this? Do you even know or are you just reading the cue cards that someone’s putting in front of you? Signing the documents others are writing for you? Hitting ‘send’ on the Tweets some slimy toady is typing out?

There’s no way you’re the mastermind behind the DoD and Homeland Security firings or behind the bogus legal challenges to Biden’s win (let alone the latest threat of having Republican electors in key states go against the popular vote on December 14th). I do think you’re heartily on board with it all, but there’s no way your pea brain concocted this elaborate interlocking strategy for messing with our democracy. And clearly these post-election gambits are building on the poisonous bricks that you all laid and mortared before the election in having pushed the bullshit rhetoric about fraud and mail-in voting, kneecapping the US Postal Service, and making it as hard as you conceivably could to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

I’d like to think that people like the Steves (Miller and Bannon) with maybe an assist from the Mike (Flynn) and a little random spice from the Rudy (G) are the ones behind this whole deal, but it frankly seems unlikely. Maybe they have it in them, but it seems pretty unlikely.

There’s an interesting (and quite scary) piece in the WP today about the results of a long-term study that is tracking authoritarianism around the world that I think is relevant (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/12/republican-party-trump-authoritarian-data/):

“GOP leaders’ embrace of Trump’s refusal to concede
fits pattern of rising authoritarianism, data shows”

You know I love data and you know I don’t love you or the GOP so this was a must read for me. The authors of the study concede that it’s basically impossible to quantify authoritarianism, but they’ve identified markers that signal trouble for democracies. For example, when a party demonizes its opponents, that’s a bad sign for democracy as is condoning violence against one’s opponents – not only does it confer bad karma on the condoner, but it trashes trust, respect, and civility, all of which are key to functional democracies. (Here’s group’s website: https://www.v-dem.net/en/.)

There are a few graphs in the article and they tell the tale very well. The first reflects composite scores of “level of party commitment to democracy” over time for Democrats and Republicans; the x-axis goes in 10-year increments from 1970 to 2018 and y-axis goes from “lowest” to highest” on the indicator. I know you’ll claim bias and call bullshit (go ahead, you have zero credibility) when I tell you that the Democrats hold completely steady right up near the very top of the scale while the Republicans bounce around a bit just below them until about 1998 when they drop down a notch and then from there continue to slide gradually down until 2016 when there is a very (very) abrupt drop. Hmm. Wonder what happened then??

The graph showing demonization of opponents is similarly telling. Here, the two parties are basically indistinguishable and are boringly in the “usually not” (demonizing) zone from 1970 until about 2006. At that point, though, when the Tea Party takes hold and old Mitch becomes that Senate Minority leader, the Dems dip down a tiny bit but the GOP falls off the cliff. The Dems bounce back to “usually not” shortly thereafter, followed by one more small dip and recovery, but the GOP just keeps marching further down the scale to where they land in “usually” (demonizes) territory by 2018. Also by 2018 the GOP is between “sometimes” and “rarely” when it comes to encouraging violence against opponents while the Dems hold steady at “never” for this indicator.

Maybe I’m off, but all of this scary-ass information about the GOP (that we’ve known but previously didn’t have quantified) leads me to think that people like McConnell and Gingrich (plus the Koch and the Mercers) have been full participants in the party planning (and brick laying) all along.

May we be safe.
May we be willing to take the high road with eyes wide open.
May we be strong and brave even if we are shaken and scared.
May we accept that the GOP is seriously beyond redemption.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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