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Sat Jun 6, 2020, 01:38 PM

The Atlantic: History Will Judge the Complicit - Why have Republican leaders abandoned

Subtitle: Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/trumps-collaborators/612250/

I won't normally post articles behind paywalls but TheAtlantic.com does have some limited number of free views per month. This one is worth one of your views. Of course, I think The Atlantic is worth every penny for a subscription, too. (Going to be saving some money cancelling my NYT, again.)

Much background and history precede the following excerpt.


The built-in vision of themselves as American patriots, or as competent administrators, or as loyal party members, also created a cognitive distortion that blinded many Republicans and Trump-administration officials to the precise nature of the president’s alternative value system. After all, the early incidents were so trivial. They overlooked the lie about the inauguration because it was silly. They ignored Trump’s appointment of the wealthiest Cabinet in history, and his decision to stuff his administration with former lobbyists, because that’s business as usual. They made excuses for Ivanka Trump’s use of a private email account, and for Jared Kushner’s conflicts of interest, because that’s just family stuff.

One step at a time, Trumpism fooled many of its most enthusiastic adherents. Recall that some of the original intellectual supporters of Trump—people like Steve Bannon, Michael Anton, and the advocates of “national conservatism,” an ideology invented, post hoc, to rationalize the president’s behavior—advertised their movement as a recognizable form of populism: an anti–Wall Street, anti-foreign-wars, anti-immigration alternative to the small-government libertarianism of the establishment Republican Party. Their “Drain the swamp” slogan implied that Trump would clean up the rotten world of lobbyists and campaign finance that distorts American politics, that he would make public debate more honest and legislation more fair. Had this actually been Trump’s ruling philosophy, it might well have posed difficulties for the Republican Party leadership in 2016, given that most of them had quite different values. But it would not necessarily have damaged the Constitution, and it would not necessarily have posed fundamental moral challenges to people in public life.

In practice, Trump has governed according to a set of principles very different from those articulated by his original intellectual supporters. Although some of his speeches have continued to use that populist language, he has built a Cabinet and an administration that serve neither the public nor his voters but rather his own psychological needs and the interests of his own friends on Wall Street and in business and, of course, his own family. His tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, not the working class. His shallow economic boom, engineered to ensure his reelection, was made possible by a vast budget deficit, on a scale Republicans once claimed to abhor, an enormous burden for future generations. He worked to dismantle the existing health-care system without offering anything better, as he’d promised to do, so that the number of uninsured people rose. All the while he fanned and encouraged xenophobia and racism, both because he found them politically useful and because they are part of his personal worldview.

More important, he has governed in defiance—and in ignorance—of the American Constitution, notably declaring, well into his third year in office, that he had “total” authority over the states. His administration is not merely corrupt, it is also hostile to checks, balances, and the rule of law. He has built a proto-authoritarian personality cult, firing or sidelining officials who have contradicted him with facts and evidence—with tragic consequences for public health and the economy. He threatened to fire a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, Nancy Messonnier, in late February, after her too-blunt warnings about the coronavirus; Rick Bright, a top Health and Human Services official, says he was demoted after refusing to direct money to promote the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine. Trump has attacked America’s military, calling his generals “a bunch of dopes and babies,” and America’s intelligence services and law-enforcement officers, whom he has denigrated as the “deep state” and whose advice he has ignored. He has appointed weak and inexperienced “acting” officials to run America’s most important security institutions. He has systematically wrecked America’s alliances.


Ending paragraph:
In the meantime, I leave anyone who has the bad luck to be in public life at this moment with a final thought from Władysław Bartoszewski, who was a member of the wartime Polish underground, a prisoner of both the Nazis and the Stalinists, and then, finally, the foreign minister in two Polish democratic governments. Late in his life—he lived to be 93—he summed up the philosophy that had guided him through all of these tumultuous political changes. It was not idealism that drove him, or big ideas, he said. It was this: Warto być przyzwoitym—“Just try to be decent.” Whether you were decent—that’s what will be remembered.


Not that I expect the repuglicon party to return to decency. And trump never had it in the first place.

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Reply The Atlantic: History Will Judge the Complicit - Why have Republican leaders abandoned (Original post)
erronis Jun 6 OP
Mike 03 Jun 6 #1
dalton99a Jun 6 #2
eppur_se_muova Jun 6 #3
erronis Jun 6 #4
yankee87 Jun 6 #5
zentrum Jun 6 #6
sandensea Jun 6 #7

Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 01:52 PM

1. This is a major essay, highly recommended.

IMO it's one of the most insightful and important essays I've seen since this nightmare began four years ago.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 02:01 PM

2. They knew what he was capable of, they called him every name in the book, and they nominated him.


(Australian Financial Review, November 9, 2016)

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 02:07 PM

3. They had principles ?

Maybe a long time ago, but ...

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 02:08 PM

4. Another article by Bill Moyers (thank you turbinetree, Dennis Donovan)

https://billmoyers.com/story/we-hold-this-truth-to-be-self-evident-its-happening-before-our-very-eyes/
(https://www.democraticunderground.com/100213553416)

Hitler was a master of manipulation, using propaganda, violence, intimidation, showmanship, and spectacle — and above all, fear. By demonizing “the other” – Jews, social democrats and communists – Hitler won the hearts and minds of the masses, consolidating his power, and turning Germany into a one-party Nazi state.

I had just finished the book when I received a short email from Bernie [Bernard Weisberger, historian], who had been watching on television the events following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. He wrote, “All this open talk by Trump of dominance is pretty undisguised fascism. He’s inciting chaos to set the stage for the strong man to ‘rescue’ the nation.”

The Nazis knew how to appeal to people who did not have the ideological concerns but only normal human concerns. They knew how to conceal their real goals and how to make passive individuals active supporters.”

So does Trump. He understands that most Americans are concerned with little more than the economy, health care and jobs. They respond positively to politicians who promise action on these priorities, whether or not they know if those promises will ever be fulfilled. Ravitch pointed out that like Hitler and like Mussolini, Trump knows how to appeal to a variety of concerns with promises that can be both attractive and contradictory. Because no population is educated enough, sensitive enough, or ethical enough to see through the deception, “the danger is very great indeed. It may in fact be one of the chief weaknesses of democracy that democracy can lead to tyranny just as well or perhaps even more than other political systems.”

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Response to erronis (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 05:04 PM

5. Manipulation of the masses

Like your article states, a lot of people are just worried about their families and to worried about their jobs to get political. While that was never me, I can see how it happens. I have friends from my childhood who still believe the economy was crap until 45 came into office and he is reason they have a job. It's actually scary.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 05:30 PM

6. They weren't fooled.

It's rather that Trumpism allowed them to be who they really are.

They will only defy him at the point Trumpism threatens their power.

They are more polite, more proper—but they are him. He is they.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sat Jun 6, 2020, 08:22 PM

7. For the same reason so many 'center-right' figures backed Hitler an Mussolini:

Big Finance and Big Business were behind it.

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