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Trump and DeSantis's Authoritarianism Should Alarm all Americans

Trump and DeSantis s Authoritarianism Should Alarm all Americans
Date Posted: Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

The 2024 presidential election is barely underway, and the stakes are already clear. Former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) — the only serious Republican contenders so far — are competing like comic book villains to stake out the most brazenly authoritarian, anti-democratic positions.

Let’s start with Donald Trump, who holds a wide lead in polling among Republican primary voters. Trump has never stopped repeating the lies about his 2020 election defeat that led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. In his CNN town hall a few weeks ago, he gnawed on his favorite grievances and repeated rigged election lies that have been thoroughly, repeatedly debunked, and rejected by courts.

Brazen lying is a tool of authoritarians. So is demonizing vulnerable minorities. We all remember that Trump launched his first campaign by bashing immigrants. He recently declared that he would start a new Trump administration with an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. In other words, he is promising to override a constitutionally guaranteed right by dictatorial decree.

A second term would be more dangerous than his first. Remember those principled conservatives who worked in Trump’s White House and Justice Department, but whose commitment to the Constitution took precedence over their political loyalties? We wouldn’t see anyone like them in a second Trump administration. Trump is planning a massive purge of the civil service so he can fill federal agencies with MAGA loyalists.

Trump is even talking about bringing back Michael Flynn, who backed calls for martial law and pushed for the military to run a new election after Trump’s defeat, and Jeffrey Clark, who aggressively tried to drag the Justice Department into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Flynn has spent his days since Trump pardoned him rallying with conspiracy theorists, Christian nationalists, anti-equality bigots, and other assorted extremists.

DeSantis provides no alternative to Americans who fear rule by an authoritarian strongman. DeSantis and his Florida allies have waged war on the freedom to learn, purged elected officials who deviated from his ideological agenda, signed bills that smeared LGBTQ people as threats to children, unleashed a new police force to destroy the lives of people who honestly believed a voter-passed constitutional amendment had returned their right to vote and used the power of government to harass and punish private businesses that fail to fall in line with his efforts.

DeSantis is eager to bring his power-abusing ways to the White House. He told Fox viewers over Memorial Day weekend that he would use the power of the presidency to “destroy leftism in this country.” He told Fox News host Trey Gowdy that the Justice Department and FBI should not be considered independent of the president and said in a separate interview with Glenn Beck that he will be “spitting nails” right out the gate to assert his dominance over the executive branch. He told a group of religious right activists in Iowa, “It is time we impose our will on Washington.”

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Trump, and DeSantis are indistinguishable. Both praise the Trump court that overturned Roe v. Wade and invited the criminalization of abortion. DeSantis is touting the prospect of multiple nominations in the mold of the current court’s most hard-right justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. He dreams of cementing a 7-2 court committed to the rightwing legal project of dismantling much of the federal government and its ability to protect Americans.

DeSantis and his allies posture as champions of freedom as they use their power to trample freedom, and as opponents of “indoctrination” as they use government to impose their own ideology on schools, libraries, and private businesses.

DeSantis’s recent campaign launch on Twitter was a mess, but far more deserving of attention than the technical glitches was his decision to be there in the first place — passing up the opportunity to make his case to the American people in favor of courting the support of a billionaire and his far-right fans, a revealing reflection of the current state of Republican leaders and their political base.

The normalizing of authoritarianism by the Trump and DeSantis camps should be alarming to all Americans and should motivate those of us who are preparing now to mobilize Americans for the 2024 election and its epic stakes.

Source: Svante Myrick/The Hill.com

Date Posted: Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 , Total Page Views: 2480

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