On the dark path towards authoritarianism

The Trump administration has frozen regulations, announced its hope to defund essential departments and programs, and seems to be testing the waters in terms of how unconstitutional it can get as it consolidates power and ignores policymaking standards like interagency operational guidance, legal guidance, and review. The set of actions occurring now makes it clear that republican leadership have little interest in the checks and balances of government, religious freedom, or human rights in general. As the State department is purged, remove resistance to objectives like the ban on all people from seven Muslim countries, we are able to a get a look at the way this new government will operate. They are weakening balancing forces and creating their own structures that have no oversight. This reveals the primary strategy they will likely employ, the removal of any regulation or the dismissal of any opposing view from within or from other branches of government which might impede the goals of the administration. A worst case scenario would be a new type of American Authoritarian government which seeks to maximize profits for elite groups at the expense of most everyone else. At the moment it’s an attack on justice and freedom from the barely elected President and his far right policy makers which may or may not get support from congress, your other elected officials who usually don’t consider public opinion when making policy.

 

Let’s look at this administrations communication style so far. The White House press secretary Sean Spicer spends his time losing arguments about the size of crowds, refuting reality about non-existent voter fraud, and generally claiming the free press lies when it correctly fact checks White House statements. A couple days ago the White House made a purposefully vague reference to an unspecified group of “innocent” victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Without specifically recognizing the groups that the Nazi’s sought to exterminate, mostly Jews, it is at best a hollow lip service and at worst an ominous revision of history as this administration also seeks to exclude a range of groups. Revisionist tendencies of any quality need to be called out at every instance. With a strange sense cognitive dissonance Trump made the pledge “together we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world” on the day of remembrance shortly before he suspended the entire US refugee program temporarily and the Syrian refugee program indefinitely. Actions speak louder and with more clarity than words in many cases. Germany’s chancellor Merkel had to explain the humanitarian responsibilities of the US to Trump and a spokesperson for Merkel said “she is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.”

Officially Trump said he was establishing a new form of “extreme vetting” to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US. According to Giuliani, what was initially discussed as a legal ban of Muslims (in a country founded on religious freedom) is now, magically, a ban based on an unknown metric of “danger.” Iran’s foreign minister called the Trump administration’s action a gift to extremists and their supporters because “collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks.” When a large proportion of the American population begins to believe the fear-mongering tactics of shady politicians and propaganda creators, it must seem like an opportune moment to ban an entire religious group under the guise of stopping extremists from entering the country and killing us. The problem we have is that the extremists are already here and they are in charge of our government.

Let’s get some real facts on the table (not Newt Gingrich’s feelings or Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts): “Not one person from the seven countries included in the ban has killed anyone in a terror attack on US soil in the last 40 years.” Since September 11, 2001, an average of 9 people a year are killed by people declared as Muslim extremists in the US compared to 13,000 that die a year from gun violence in the US. (It should be noted that this number doesn’t include those killed by police in the US who are disproportionately people of color. A single study of 990 reviewed police shootings showed in 93 cases unarmed citizens were killed and yet we aren’t calling for a ban on police. We want a better understanding of institution bias and militarization of police to inform policy changes, including the end of self-regulating agencies who show no accountability. ANY institution that want to get rid of ethics rules or simply ignore systemic abuses should be severely scrutinized if not overhauled.)

I’m going to take Trump’s statement that he wants as little as possible at intelligence briefings as an indication of how uninformed his vetting process will be. I’m going to assume that most of the policy changes we will see won’t be based on facts, science, diplomacy, egalitarianism, or justice. They will be based on fear and control. And they will attempt to justify it as the will of the people every step of the way, in contrast to any facts which show otherwise.

What we have is a guy who has no experience with domestic or foreign policy creating a cabinet of extreme right wing politicians who are attempting to seriously augment the political, social, and economic fabric of this country in ways that don’t address the issues faced by millions of American every day and appear to be creating a set of policies that will make life much worse for the vast majority. If this continues unchecked, I expect a chaotic mess of national security issues, environmental issues, and a spike of social and economic inequality as a result of this unprecedented political shift taking place under this terrifyingly ill-informed, power hungry administration. When republicans talk about how government doesn’t work this should be the quintessential example in the future. For now it ought to be an extremely compelling reason to stay politically active as American citizens, demanding much more from our representatives, especially as many states are attempting to criminalize the constitutional right of peaceful protest. This is a call for action like nothing I’ve seen in my life. This twilight zone version of a state isn’t going to fix itself.

 

 

Published by Scott Boutin

Music released under the monikers Blue Soul, Archetypewriter, and Metadub.

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