11 Comments

Thanks, Thomas.

One thought ––when focusing on how all those challenges are interconnected, the article seems to convey a picture of a COORDINATED attack ("a judicial arm", "an intellectual arm"...)

No doubt, much of it IS coordinated and orchestrated by people who know what they are doing. However I wonder if at least SOME of it also is more random:

people who have a common anti-government and anti-diversity outlook acting in response to how they see the world - WITHOUT being organised by a concerted campaign - just as people on the left might respond spontaneously.

It's no less dangerous when seen this way... though maybe less imposing (?)

Expand full comment

I understand now. M and S who venerate Senate traditions like the filibuster are going to vote the blue slips for district judges out. And, except for you, no one is trying to win, just relying on luck.

Expand full comment

Even when raining on our parade, your treatises are a clarifying tonic

Expand full comment

Mostly agree. Anyone hoping that the trump spell will be broken doesn’t know much about US History. The moral arc may have bent but not that much and there will always be struggles. The writer does tend to overstate the skill of the American fascists who mostly win by default (the shrug that nothing can be done to the idea that both sides are corrupt and at fault.) Enjoying an occasional victory isn’t a bad thing especially when defeatism is trendy.

Expand full comment

"We need to see the ex-president, the cult of personality around him, and his core followership that comprises a significant portion of the conservative base as a specific part of that broader reactionary counter-mobilization, fulfilling a specific role."

My two cents:

The Authoritarian Personality and GOP voters: conservatism's true face is fascism./ 2.10.2023

(https://iandouglasrushlau.substack.com/p/the-authoritarian-personality-and)

"When I first wrote about the GOP as a fascist organization, and its rank and file voters as the true threat to our democracy- not the fascist figureheads— since the rank and file compose the fascist crowd, I received a fair amount of disdain (and vitriolic opprobrium, to be honest) for my broad-brush, hyperbolic labeling.

My impression of that reaction, from self-described progressives mind you, was that I provoked it because I was asking these same self-described progressives to look at family members, neighbors and coworkers in an uncomfortable way— as adults choosing to be complicit in atrocities, and facilitating the dismantling of our democracy, and generally, these rank and file fascists are in fact enthusiastic about it. As I’ve said many times in the past seven plus years about the rank and file fascists- none were duped.

Welp, after another election in 2020, in which more Americans pulled the lever for the fascist figurehead than the first time, and oh yeah, an armed insurrection and various ongoing efforts from within the institutions of government to dismantle our democracy, and commit atrocities, and numerous precursors to the justification of outright genocide, my take on American fascists, the rank and file fascist crowd of GOP voters, has become slightly less outside the popular wisdom...

The pedantic quibbles of Prof. Paxton, echoed by Prof. Evans, about when some arbitrary threshold is crossed and the person, in some ambiguous Poof! of manifest fascist-ness because a ‘for real, no kidding this time, real fascist’, is as inane as it is disconnected from human experience. And when it comes to confronting the threat posed by the fascist crowd, inane pedantic blathering about who gets to divine and proclaim the markings of the true fascist gets people killed, and will cost us our democracy. Not good...

Theodore Adorno’s research on Authoritarian Personality seems remarkably dead on today, as precise, accurate and relevant a personality profile as when it first appeared over six decades ago...

These are not psychological features that are amenable to patient listening and reasoned discourse— in fact, patient listening and reasoned discourse are precisely the sort of displays that a conservative proto-fascist will respond to with disgust and hostility— (see items d., f. and g., above).

Try to understand them, reason with them, and you will be met with either dismissive contempt, or violent hate.

These are over seventy million of your fellow citizens, and they don’t think any of us, not one person who calls themselves a progressive-- especially those who are not white heterosexual Christian males --deserve any place in society, are entitled to political representation, or equal protection of the law.

Believing otherwise, no matter how much you may want to, will get a lot of us imprisoned and killed. Because that was already happening before Trump’s election...

Make no mistake— when a person speaks of ‘traditional values’, as so often we hear from conservatives, what they are really communicating is a fundamental rejection of change and pluralism. This is the very core of conservatism, and it is aligned with authoritarianism...

Trump voters voted for him for the simple reason that they agreed with his basic premise: the country, and the sole authority to rule over it, belongs to them, and it’s being stolen from them by the ‘basket of liberal special interests’, with the assistance of ‘powerful international elites’ . No need to read between the lines, Steve Bannon and Anne Coulter will tell you— and have said explicitly, repeatedly- the powerful international elites are the Jews.

We need to see them for who they are, GOP voters, and name them, if we are to oppose them- they are America’s fascist crowd."

Expand full comment

Thank you for your clear-eyed assessment of the state of our country.

There are flickers of light arising from the actions of blue state governors, young activists who've become alarmed by the dire threats to their futures, and a handful of election wins/polls that show a decided shift away from extremism and endless culture wars.

That said, the absence of Democratic leadership on the federal level is pathetic. Dick Durbin chairs the Senate Judiciary committee and cannot bring himself to eliminate the blue-slip rule holding up the confirmation of a slew of Biden judges. Durbin's answer to the astounding level of Justices Thomas' corruption was not to immediately commence hearings putting Thomas on the hot seat, but to weakly plead with Robert's to 'do something'. Is it possible to be more inert and ineffective than Durbin?

Schumer and Jeffries aren't much better...they seem to believe that issuing 'strongly worded messages' are Olympian-level feats of daring, meanwhile unknown state legislators in TN have shown bravery and oratorical skills that have garnered worldwide attention. Biden simply cannot seem to muster the ability to call out the relentless attacks on our democracy and people.

The answer is clear...the institutions won't save us... they're barely functioning. DC won't save us, so it's up to us to galvanize at the local and state levels. Attend school board meetings, register GenZ voters, help disenfranchised voters across the country obtain voter IDs (see VoteRiders.Org), run for local office/school boards/state legislatures (see RunForSomething), vote in everyone election (Democrats aren't heroes, not even close, but they're not fascists either). Vote blue in every election, every time. Write postcards, send texts, knock on doors, make calls.

Things will NOT be fine unless we take action. GenZ will not 'save us' unless they vote at 75% levels or higher.

The GOP won't stop stripping away rights.

Someday we'll be sufficiently sane as a country and we can create new parties, but for now it's Democrats vs fascists.

The future is in our hands.

Expand full comment

Sounds like a pretty hopeless future.

Expand full comment

We have every right to feel hope yet no reason to be complacent.

We’ve saved our country and democracy in the past by not giving up and we can do it again.

Expand full comment

Just the opposite...we have the power to change it all by focusing on flipping state legislatures. That's empowering.

Once you realize the weakness of the institutions, the choice is action vs passivity. I have a laundry list of items that anyone can do...from running for local office to registering GenZers to volunteering as election workers to textbanking 1 hour/week.

Once enough state legislatures flip, the momentum will be sufficient to make changes on the federal level.

My point is that change must come from the bottom up. Clearly it's more than possible (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin), but it will take focused work, contesting every legislative seat, and building a movement.

Expand full comment

I doubt that Schumer has the votes to do away with the blue slip rule for district judges but there have been a record number of new district and appellate judges confirmed since 2021 so I wouldn’t be using this as an example. Nor should democrats shy away from using power whenever they’ve got the votes. I do praise your grass roots approach but it’s going to take awhile. Good luck.

Expand full comment

Schumer only needs a majority re blue slips, and Sinema/Manchin have been reliable votes for judges thus far, do he should have the votes. Yes and no re district court judges. ..I applaud the diversity of new judges, but a portion were replacements for formerly left-leaning judges. This country needs grassroots movements and massive voting, not luck.

Expand full comment