Republican fascism is accelerating 2023

The United States no longer has two parties committed to democratic self-government.

Despite a few conspicuous exceptions, such as what the Democratic National Committee did to Bernie Sanders in 2016, the Democratic Party is still primarily committed to democracy.

And we have a Republican Party careening toward authoritarianism at maximum speed. OK, authoritarianism.

Last week’s events in Nashville are a worrisome reminder of the fragility of American democracy when Republicans obtain supermajorities and are no longer required to collaborate with Democratic legislators.

The seats of the two Tennessee Democrats whom Republicans expelled from the Tennessee House have been restored pending the holding of special elections, but the damage to democracy cannot be readily repaired.

Trump has pushed win-at-all-cost politics, which is reaching its natural conclusion.

They were neither accused of criminal wrongdoing nor immoral behavior. Their alleged crime was protesting Tennessee’s failure to implement stricter gun control after a shooting at a Nashville Christian school that left three pupils and three adults dead.

Technically, they were in violation of the house rules, but the state legislature had never imposed such a severe penalty for rule violations. Several Tennessee legislators have maintained their positions despite being charged with significant sexual misconduct in recent years. Moreover, the two legislators who were expelled last week are African-American, whereas a third lawmaker who demonstrated in the same way but was not expelled is Caucasian.

We are witnessing the logical conclusion of win-at-all-costs Trump Republican politics – Republicans’ use of scorched-earth tactics to entrench their power for no reason other than the fact that they can.

Democracy is concerned with means. Under it, citizens are not required to concur on ends (abortion, healthcare, firearms, or whatever else we disagree about) so long as we agree on democratic means of resolving our disagreements.

For Trump Republicans, however, the ends justify any means, including expelling lawmakers, manipulating elections through gerrymandering, refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and denying the outcome of a legitimate presidential election.

Wisconsin may shortly provide a more disturbing example. While liberals celebrated the election of Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin supreme court on Tuesday because she will tilt the court against the state’s extreme gerrymandering (the most extreme in the country) and its stringent abortion laws (among the strictest in the United States), something else occurred in Wisconsin on election day that could very well negate Protasiewicz’s victory.

By a narrow margin, voters in Wisconsin’s eighth senatorial district elected Republican Dan Knodl to the state senate. This provides the Wisconsin Republican party with a supermajority and the ability to impeach critical state officials, including justices.

Knodl stated several weeks ago that he would “certainly consider” impeaching Protasiewicz. Although he was discussing her function as a county judge at the time, his interest in impeaching her has likely increased now that she can influence the state’s highest court.

Like Tennessee, this may be done without public justification. Republican authoritarianism justifies power.

Recall that in 2018, in response to the election of a Democratic governor and attorney general in Wisconsin, the Republican legislature and the outgoing Republican governor substantially reduced the authority of both offices.

Meanwhile, a newly installed Republican supermajority in Florida has given Ron DeSantis unbridled control – with total authority over the board governing Disney, the theme park giant he has battled over his anti-LGBTQ “don’t say gay” law; permission to fly migrants from anywhere in the United States to destinations of his own choosing, for political purposes, and then send the bill to Florida’s taxpayers; and unprecedented prosecutorial power in the form of his newly created, hand-penned

Without two democratically committed parties to resolve divergent objectives, the democratically committed party is at a tactical disadvantage. If it is to endure, it must eventually sacrifice democratic means for its own purposes.

Under these conditions, partisanship becomes animosity and political divisions become hostility. There are no principles in warfare, only victories and defeats. This occurred 160 years ago, when the American Civil War tore the nation apart.

Donald Trump is not solely responsible for this dangerous trend, but he has legitimized and encouraged the ends-justify-the-means viciousness that is currently propelling the Republican Party to become the American fascist party.

Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich teaches public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His latest book, The System: Who Rigged It and How We Can Fix It, is now available. He is a columnist for Guardian US.

Leave a Reply