This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.
They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.
Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.
Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?
Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?
Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.
They actually believe Trump’s spiel
According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.
Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.
Think about that. More than half of Republicans surveyed would go along with a Trump call to postpone our most precious and important right to determine who will lead us until Donald Trump could assure them that no illegal immigrants would voting.
The word of a guy who announced that three to five million people illegally voted in 2016 without so much as a scintilla of evidence to back that up would be enough for 52 percent of Republicans surveyed to allow him to remain president without the inconvenience of having to win another election.
Why would they toss these rights?
That number rises to 56 percent if congressional Republicans joined in the call to postpone the election.
If that’s not alarming enough, a new YouGov/Economist poll finds that 45 percent of Republicans believe judges should have the power to “shut down news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased and inaccurate.”
[Hence Trump’s constant assault on the mainstream media as “fake news.”]
Let’s review, shall we?
Not even eight months into Trump’s presidency, nearly half of Republicans are now willing to toss out two fundamentals upon which this country was founded: free speech and the right to democratically elect our leaders.
And we’re worried about North Korea?
The authors of the study Laurie Roberts cites add, In a new poll, half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump proposed it:
Not surprisingly, beliefs about the 2016 election and voter fraud were correlated with support for postponement. People who believed that Trump won the popular vote, that there were millions of illegal votes in 2016, or that voter fraud is not rare were more likely to support postponing the election. This support was also more prevalent among Republicans who were younger, were less educated, had less factual knowledge of politics and strongly identified with the party.
[Low information voters and political party tribalism.]
Of course, this is still hypothetical.
Of course, our survey is only measuring reactions to a hypothetical situation. Were Trump to seriously propose postponing the election, there would be a torrent of opposition, which would most likely include prominent Republicans. Financial markets would presumably react negatively to the potential for political instability. And this is to say nothing of the various legal and constitutional complications that would immediately become clear. Citizens would almost certainly form their opinions amid such tumult, which does not at all resemble the context in which our survey was conducted.
Nevertheless, we do not believe that these findings can be dismissed out of hand. At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied). And although the ensuing chaos could turn more Republicans against this kind of proposal, it is also conceivable that a high-stakes and polarized debate would do the exact opposite.
Postponing the 2020 presidential election is not something that Trump or anyone in his administration has even hinted at, but for many in his constituency, floating such an idea may not be a step too far.
As the father of the Republican Party (long since defunct), Abraham Lincoln presciently warned:
“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”