Now that Congressional Republicans have seen fit to expel Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership post in the U.S. House of Representatives, the warning lights are flashing red for American democracy.
Submission to Trump knows no boundaries
Republicans are punishing Cheney because she has committed the cardinal sin of contradicting the former U.S. President and defending the U.S. 2020 presidential election results as legitimate.
In the party’s upper echelons, ever submissive to their “main man” Donald Trump, this is now considered treason.
Growing Parallels With Germany in the 1930s
The Republican Party is not a fascist party – yet – but the parallels with Germany in the 1930s are growing closer.
Like many Germans of that era, large numbers of Republican voters and politicians have abandoned democratic values.
In particular, they no longer believe that government policies should reflect the will of the majority. They simply consider the party opposing them illegitimate, “radical” and “socialist.”
Transfer of power? Fuggedaboutit
Many Republicans also no longer accept the core democratic principle that a party in power must transfer that power if it loses an election.
To ensure one-party rule, Republicans are busy stacking the electoral deck, basically by making it harder for black Americans and Democratic voters mainly in urban areas to vote.
These Republicans blindly follow their leader, a strongman who openly admires autocrats and who refuses to accept the result of a fair election.
They also believe his Big Lie, that the Democrats stole the election and the system is rigged. There is no evidence to support this claim, but they don’t care.
The Nazis and the original Big Lie
In the original Big Lie, Nazis claimed that Germany had lost World War I only because certain “internal groups” had sabotaged the war effort. That was also completely false.
But they subsequently used that Big Lie very effectively to blame Jews and democratic Weimar politicians, quite a few of whom were Social Democrats (not Socialists), for Germany’s defeat.
De facto race baiting in 2021
Now, Republicans must be absolutely loyal to their leader, as Donald Trump spews lies about the election, disparages racial minorities and appeals to white supremacists.
Some of his followers, as we saw on January 6, 2021 – another day in U.S. history that will live in infamy — will use violence to achieve their goals.
Many self-styled “patriots” in the Trumpista camp have organized into heavily armed paramilitary groups, the militias. They have intimidated politicians in Michigan, occupying the state legislature, and paraded with their guns near Black Lives Matters protestors.
The Proud Boys, a neo-Nazi group, and the Oath Keepers are fervent Trump supporters and associated with white supremacists.
Abandoning democratic principles
The analogy with Weimar Germany may seem alarmist, but let’s step back for a minute and consider how bizarre the current situation is:
Hypocrisy knows no boundaries
The vast majority of Republican voters thus reject the results of an election — even though it was untainted by fraud. After all, 50 Secretaries of State, many of them Republican, certified that the results were fair.
The Republicans in the U.S. Congress are being hypocritical, of course. They think that they were elected or re-elected legitimately, via the same ballots that voters cast in the Presidential race.
These may not be fascist attitudes, strictly speaking, but they are fundamentally anti-democratic. What term would you prefer? Authoritarian? Illiberal?
Those labels seem rather bland, given the danger these attitudes pose for our system of government.
Republican “leaders”? Trump’s handmaidens!
In a normal political party and in a healthy democracy, we would not be talking about Donald Trump and his “iron grip” on the Republican Party.
Instead, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-TN) would have promptly acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election and publicly congratulated him.
When Donald Trump refused to accept the election results, they would have called upon the President to recognize his defeat.
Ever eager to please the Great Leader
And after Trump instigated the attack on the Capitol, which endangered those Republicans’ lives, they would have called for Trump to step down, or they would impeached him. They would have made him a pariah and ejected him from their party.
Instead, a modern-day Quisling-like Senator Lindsey Graham says the Republican Party “cannot grow” without Trump.
Meanwhile, ambitious younger politicians like Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), repeat Trump’s lies about the election, all so they can ride on the Great Leader’s coattails.
Echoes of the German Weimar Republic
Don’t underestimate these politicians or assume that they are boorish “rednecks.” They are bright Ivy-League graduates. And they know that they are lying. Like their German counterparts in the 1930s, they have lots of intelligence but no principles.
Like many Germans back in the early 1930s, large numbers of Republicans in the U.S. today have abandoned basic democratic values.
Republicans’ attitudes may not be fascist but they are fundamentally anti-democratic. What term would you prefer? Authoritarian? Illiberal?
Given the danger the Republicans’ anti-democratic stance poses for the U.S. system of government, it is time to call them out on that.
Today’s Republican Trump enablers, many of them Ivy League graduates, know that they are lying. But they are afraid of their Great Leader.
Like their German counterparts in the 1930s, today Congressional Republicans have lots of intelligence -- but no principles whatsoever.