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Thread: 2019 American Political Scene

  1. #346
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    InExile,

    It has made reconsider some of my beliefs about democracy or that a republic would ensure a better quality of leaders than authoritarian regimes over the longer term. While ofcourse there are several instances from the 20th century of a fascist party (or a far left party) coming to power via a democratic election I still find it quite amazing that Trump with his clownish antics, offensive statements, petty attacks and occasional forays to fascist dog whistles would nevertheless get 46% of the vote in a country like the United States with a long history of democracy, stable institutions and a free media.
    that's a pretty small sample, though. what the democratic system generally offers is a -better chance- of not having a catastrophic leader, because pandering to the mean will generally get you a middling-competent leader.

    Trump is pretty terrible, definitely in the bottom 5 Presidents we've ever had, but despite that the US economy continues to grow, the next world war's not been started, etc.

    obviously that's not to say everything is well. but it's not so much the idea of democracy that is failing here, it is the sclerosis of the system. the founders knew full well that there were going to be a lot of idiots and populists pandering to those idiots in any democratic system, which is why the system they put into place was NOT a very democratic one. it was a democratic system for the -social elite-.

    over time, that's become less and less tenable. so right now we have a kludge of a system where there's a lot of anti-majoritarian institutions (Senate, Electoral College, etc) that have none of their benefits and all of their disadvantages! the idea was to turn "ambition against ambition", yet we see Senators completely in thrall to the Executive Branch. the Electoral College was supposed to prevent morons like Trump from getting into the Presidency in the first place, but we all saw how where that went...and had the Electors actually over-turned his election, there would have been a massive Constitutional crisis.

    the system worked fairly well when it came to Nixon, but it is in desperate need now for a revamp. too many of the "it just isn't done, old chap" unspoken rules and norms have been violated, and something new needs to be instituted in its place.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  2. #347
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    Quote Originally Posted by InExile View Post
    Trump continues daily to shock with his outlandish behavior and buffoonery, however, I still find it hard to get my head around the fact that somewhere from 42% to 47% of Americans are going to vote him after all this, in 2020 over any Democrat, even a relative moderate like Biden.

    It has made reconsider some of my beliefs about democracy or that a republic would ensure a better quality of leaders than authoritarian regimes over the longer term. While ofcourse there are several instances from the 20th century of a fascist party (or a far left party) coming to power via a democratic election I still find it quite amazing that Trump with his clownish antics, offensive statements, petty attacks and occasional forays to fascist dog whistles would nevertheless get 46% of the vote in a country like the United States with a long history of democracy, stable institutions and a free media.
    Doesn't surprise me at all. What surprises is that the percentage is that high. I have always felt, always, that if presented with the right opportunity 1/3 (33%) of Americans would vote for a far-right fascist oriented politician immediately. It now seems another 12% can be swayed by some smoke and mirrors as has always been the case in the past.

    As for the history of democracy, stable institutions and a free media you may have to reconsider the free media and change it to free internet. While I enjoy finding information on the internet about my hobbies, and talking with you fine characters, overall I could do without the internet. No matter the good intentions many of these great things ultimately get subverted.

  3. #348
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    InExile,

    that's a pretty small sample, though. what the democratic system generally offers is a -better chance- of not having a catastrophic leader, because pandering to the mean will generally get you a middling-competent leader.

    Trump is pretty terrible, definitely in the bottom 5 Presidents we've ever had, but despite that the US economy continues to grow, the next world war's not been started, etc.
    Yes, and I still think that if Trump were on the verge of a truly catastrophic decision, the system would still be able to stop him whether by the 25th amendment or some other way. Though, while I used to fear a mistake or miscalculation by Trump with disastrous consequences, now I think the chances of that are quite unlikely, Trump for all his bombast is basically averse to conflict that could cause actual damage.


    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    the system worked fairly well when it came to Nixon, but it is in desperate need now for a revamp. too many of the "it just isn't done, old chap" unspoken rules and norms have been violated, and something new needs to be instituted in its place.
    No doubt there are possible changes to the system that are needed, however I think one of the issues here that there are a significant number of voters in a democracy who will vote for a leader with significant flaws and authoritarian leanings as long as he panders to their ideological instincts and fears. I think this tendency is always present although its exacerbated at times of national or economic stress or hyper partisanship and political decay. For all the flaws of the Weimar Republic in the 1930s I don't think any changes to the system would have made a difference at that point to the destruction of democracy as a majority of Germans had given up on liberal democracy and supported authoritarians on the right and the left.

    Ofcourse, the US is nowhere near such a scenario with far stronger institutions; and ofcourse Trump has not actually veered openly into fascism inspite of skirting the line now and again. Neverthless a significant number of voters are willing to vote for populist candidates with authoritarian leanings in spite of significant personality and character issues. I think if a left wing version of Trump ran as a democrat he would still get 30-35% vote (although in the US system that would result in a 50 state landslide loss).
    Last edited by InExile; 10 Nov 19, at 08:52.

  4. #349
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    Just that 20th Century politics has not yet caught up with 21st Century systems of influencing people. Nothing wrong with the system per se but the safeguards need updating.

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    I was trying to come up with an example of a fascist party being elected as a fascist party – rather than as something else, and then becoming fascist – but kept drawing a blank. Mussolini had communists, socialists and labor as key elements in his first election victories, and then “superseded” the need for elections. Romania’s 1933 “Everything for the Country” Party was national-Christian.
    Argentina? Egypt?
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  6. #351
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    Rather than look for a fascist party look for fascist oriented politicians, the term I used, who use fascist techniques in their speeches and campaigns. By doing that one can see that Orban of Hungary, Erdogan of Turkey, Le Pen of France, Salvini of Italy, and Abascal of Spain, to name a few, fit the profile. Now how far they go is entirely dependent on the country, their people, their current history and system of government, and the military. Trump does use some classic fascist techniques. such as his famous alternative facts and nationalistic screeds, but also has a tougher road than the others due to the qualities of our country. However, stranger things have happened, both with the voting populace and the mental stability of the politician who is looking for an opening.

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    The term Fascist is way too overused these days by people who don't remember and don't care what it originally meant. It has become de rigueur to delegitimize the opposition by terming them fascist/bigoted/nationalist/far right etc. by the supposedly liberal left. Trump is a despicable person and a clown who shouldn't be anywhere close to power in my opinion, but he is not a fascist. Victor Orban who has been fighting democratic elections and has spent time in power as well as in the opposition in parliament and continues to abide by Hungary's democratic rules is also not a fascist. Erdogan's case is different since he has become the de-facto dictator of Turkey having stamped out the opposition in an un-democratic manner. Lumping Orban, Bolsonaro or Trump with him is immensely problematic. The left-liberals these days believe that anyone who holds nationalistic or socially/economically conservative views must be a fascist/far right/ultra-nationalist by definition!

    I'm sure we'll soon reach a point where anyone to the right of Sanders and AoC will be termed a fascist and erstwhile liberals will find themselves as targets too. Gabbard is already persona non-grata as far as "liberals" are concerned and I wouldn't be surprised if Biden is termed too right wing in the not too distant future.
    Last edited by Firestorm; 11 Nov 19, at 20:47.

  8. #353
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firestorm View Post
    The term Fascist is way too overused these days by people who don't remember and don't care what it originally meant. It has become de rigueur to delegitimize the opposition by terming them fascist/bigoted/nationalist/far right etc. by the supposedly liberal left. Trump is a despicable person and a clown who shouldn't be anywhere close to power in my opinion, but he is not a fascist. Victor Orban who has been fighting democratic elections and has spent time in power as well as in the opposition in parliament and continues to abide by Hungary's democratic rules is also not a fascist. Erdogan's case is different since he has become the de-facto dictator of Turkey having stamped out the opposition in an un-democratic manner. Lumping Orban, Bolsonaro or Trump with him is immensely problematic. The left-liberals these days believe that anyone who holds nationalistic or socially/economically conservative views must be a fascist/far right/ultra-nationalist by definition!

    I'm sure we'll soon reach a point where anyone to the right of Sanders and AoC will be termed a fascist and erstwhile liberals will find themselves as targets too. Gabbard is already persona non-grata as far as "liberals" are concerned and I wouldn't be surprised if Biden is termed too right wing in the not too distant future.
    Words of course have a way of changing meaning over time ("We'll have a gay old time!") and certainly even current political terms can be misused and deliberately twisted completely out of recognition ("Democratic People's Republic of Korea"). So describing someone as a Fascist (note the capital F) doesn't necessarily make them a devotee of Mussolini's Partito Nazionale Fascista.

    Even a small-f fascist can described in many ways. So yeah, it can be problematic. But I do feel that Trump can reasonably be described as a neo-fascist. He is of course constrained by the laws and democratic traditions of the United States. But those, let's call them at the very least authoritarian, impulses are clearly visible, rising off Trump like clouds of steam off hot asphalt after a rainstorm. Small wonder, he's been the sole proprietor of a relatively small privately-held company for the vast majority of his life, answerable to virtually no one, with a decades-long track record of flouting any law he finds inconvenient (see more below). His current courtroom defense strategy is to assert complete and total immunity from any prosecution whatsoever....including of course his famous boast of shooting someone on Fifth Avenue with impunity.

    So let's take a look at a quote from history about fascism and see if it's applicable to Trump.

    The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

    At the moment, the United States Government is almost completely in the thrall of Donald Trump. The usual checks and balances have been thrown out the window as Trump, aided and abetted by the Republicans in Congress, has consistently defied subpeonas by the House of Representatives and ordered members of the Executive Branch to do the same. A few have broken ranks, but entirely of their own accord. These outliers are immediately pilloried by Trump in public and accused of treason. It's reasonable to say that Trump's motto is "L'etat c'est moi"

    Yeah, I have no problem calling Donald Trump a neo-fascist.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
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  9. #354
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    Trump-nominated Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit against NY officials, House committee over taxes

    A federal judge on Monday issued another blow to President Donald Trump and his ongoing effort to avoid having his tax records turned over to Congress.

    U.S. Judge Carl Nichols granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that Trump filed in July over the TRUST Act in New York, which gave Congress the authority to retrieve tax information from New York residents.

    In granting the dismissal, he noted that the president, "has not met his burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over either of the New York Defendants."

    The president's lawsuit named the House Ways and Means Committee, New York Attorney General Letitia James and the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, Michael Schmidt. ABC News reported at the time that Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has hesitated to use the new law to request the president's state returns.

    In their complaint, Trump's lawyers claimed that Neal had "expressed a renewed interest in utilizing" the statute.

    Nichols wrote that "such a speculative statement" about Rep. Richard Neal's "interest in utilizing" the TRUST Act "does not satisfy" the court.

    Shortly after the judge issued his ruling, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement applauding the decision.

    "We have said all along that this lawsuit should be dismissed and we are pleased with the court's conclusion," James said. "The TRUST Act is an important tool that will ensure accountability to millions of Americans who deserve to know the truth. We have never doubted that this law was legal, which is why we vigorously defended it from the start and will continue to do so."

    In response, the president's personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, downplayed the implications of the ruling.

    "Regarding the tax case out of DC -- we are reviewing the opinion," Sekulow said. "The case against the Ways and Means Committee proceeds in federal court."

    Sekulow was referring to a separate lawsuit with similar implications for the president' highly sought after tax information. The House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration seeking six years of the president's tax returns. A judge has not yet ruled on that case.
    __________

    Modified the actual headline a little to reflect an inconvenient fact to Trump followers...And another court defeat is handed to the would-be autocrat in White House.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  10. #355
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firestorm View Post
    The term Fascist is way too overused these days by people who don't remember and don't care what it originally meant. It has become de rigueur to delegitimize the opposition by terming them fascist/bigoted/nationalist/far right etc. by the supposedly liberal left. Trump is a despicable person and a clown who shouldn't be anywhere close to power in my opinion, but he is not a fascist. Victor Orban who has been fighting democratic elections and has spent time in power as well as in the opposition in parliament and continues to abide by Hungary's democratic rules is also not a fascist. Erdogan's case is different since he has become the de-facto dictator of Turkey having stamped out the opposition in an un-democratic manner. Lumping Orban, Bolsonaro or Trump with him is immensely problematic. The left-liberals these days believe that anyone who holds nationalistic or socially/economically conservative views must be a fascist/far right/ultra-nationalist by definition!

    I'm sure we'll soon reach a point where anyone to the right of Sanders and AoC will be termed a fascist and erstwhile liberals will find themselves as targets too. Gabbard is already persona non-grata as far as "liberals" are concerned and I wouldn't be surprised if Biden is termed too right wing in the not too distant future.
    I hope I didn't go over your head with my comment. I didn't say fascist politician but fascist oriented politician as there is a difference. Therefore all the names I listed do qualify when you take a look at the standard practices of a fascist. Some score higher in use of the techniques and some score lower but all show the tendency. Question is can outside forces/influences keep those tendencies in check. Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't.

    As far as one holding nationalistic views that is one aspect of fascism. Two, socially conservative views are another since most of the time the nationalistic view is to make the country great for the native people and not others. It is pretty obvious to me who Trump thinks are the chosen and who aren't. Just sayin'.

    I do spell the word with the small "f" as I am not implying the definite Fascism of Mussolini and Hitler. I also feel the word has been so overused by those for all other kinds of reasons as to now cloud what it originally defined which was an ideology that morphs. How about using Nationalism in that it is inward looking, trends towards the natives, is against change in all manner of things, and thinks it can return a nation to a former period of unquestioned superiority?

    Anyway it sounds to me that you are caught up in the times where it is either all far right and all left liberal. Most people I know are centrist and nowhere near left liberal but are called such. No surprise because that is exactly what the right wants by repeating ad nauseam. It has worked so well that even I believe TopHatter is a left leaning liberal...

  11. #356
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post

    Anyway it sounds to me that you are caught up in the times where it is either all far right and all left liberal. Most people I know are centrist and nowhere near left liberal but are called such. No surprise because that is exactly what the right wants by repeating ad nauseam. It has worked so well that even I believe TopHatter is a left leaning liberal...
    Heh, yeah, I get accused of that the moment I say anything less-than-obsequious about Donald Trump.
    It's rather amusing how the Enraged Kool-Aid Drinker script gets whipped out and read verbatim.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  12. #357
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    tbm3fan,
    Interesting point, but not mine.
    I’m looking for a party that said, “We’re fascists, and proud of it!” And, then got elected legitimately.

    Firestorm,
    I assure you I know what fascism is. Intolerant, state-first, nationalistic control, to put it in a nutshell.
    Go ahead and say whatever you like about The Trumpet. That’s not my topic in this thread.

    TopHatter,
    I think FDR got it wrong. His description sounds more like capitalism running amok, and by the way, the prime examples of fascism – Nazis, et al – were all in favor of private enterprise, provided it served the objectives of the ruling party / state.


    So, examples?
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  13. #358
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    DOR,

    I’m looking for a party that said, “We’re fascists, and proud of it!” And, then got elected legitimately.
    there's only so many examples from fascism's hey-day. there's elements of it in Orban's/Erdogan's/Putin's elections, and yes, a bit in MAGA.

    I think FDR got it wrong. His description sounds more like capitalism running amok, and by the way, the prime examples of fascism – Nazis, et al – were all in favor of private enterprise, provided it served the objectives of the ruling party / state.
    kinda, sorta. the Nazis had a hard-on for big "private" enterprises, because they viewed small business as naturally inefficient. and you had to buy-in to the Nazi philosophy the higher-up you went. sorta like Xi Jinping's idea of how businesses ought to be run, now that i think of it.
    Last edited by astralis; 12 Nov 19, at 14:17.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    don't you recognize the SACRIFICES the Trump family have made??

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...ces-he-writes/

    It was the day before his father was inaugurated president of the United States when the weight of the office first washed over Donald Trump Jr.

    President-elect Trump and the new first family were at Arlington National Cemetery, where Trump was to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.

    “I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. wrote in his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” “Yet, as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.”

    He also had another revelation as he watched his father standing in front of the tomb, surrounded by more than 400,000 graves, listening to the Army Band bugler playing taps: The Trump family had already suffered, he recalled thinking, and this was only the beginning.

    “In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. wrote.


    The book bills itself as a 300-page evisceration of PC culture — “the book that leftist elites don’t want you to read,” its Amazon page twice crows. In it, Trump Jr. writes, “A victimhood complex has taken root in the American left.” Yet, in his telling, the real victim is often him, his father or another Trump family member.
    I almost threw up when I read that the other day. I swear to God I was physically nauseated...
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    Doesn't surprise me at all. What surprises is that the percentage is that high. I have always felt, always, that if presented with the right opportunity 1/3 (33%) of Americans would vote for a far-right fascist oriented politician immediately. It now seems another 12% can be swayed by some smoke and mirrors as has always been the case in the past.

    As for the history of democracy, stable institutions and a free media you may have to reconsider the free media and change it to free internet. While I enjoy finding information on the internet about my hobbies, and talking with you fine characters, overall I could do without the internet. No matter the good intentions many of these great things ultimately get subverted.
    Turkey Fan,

    I lay this ignorance at the feet of the complete lack of civics education in our schools. We are reaping the harvest of our pivot to everything STEM and dropped civics/history/poli sci from our school curriculums. Our public school textbooks across the nation are designed and approved by the Texas State School Board...Texas gets to do this because they buy so many books they skew the market.

    We have raised 2 generations of citizens who do not know what that word means.
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