This Is Authoritarianism

It’s not a Republican National Convention. It’s a Trump National Convention. Our executive branch isn’t flirting with authoritarianism. It is authoritarianism.

Consider this:

  • The speakers are primarily Trump’s family, and White House officials potentially violating the Hatch Act, meant to separate political activities from the somber affairs of state.
  • There is no Republican Party platform this year. This is a novel break with tradition and shows there are no ideas in the party beyond following this mercurial, awful man into hell.
  • The United States Postal Service is being deliberately stripped of resources required to make our elections move in a pandemic. This is an active attempt at make it impossible for people to vote.
  • The president has not said whether he will honor an election result, and has made a number of statements casting doubt on the election.
  • The speakers at the convention supporting the president are using tools of right-wing authoritarianism, including fear, demonization of political opponents, and violent-tinged reactionary rhetoric, including on abortion and immigration.

I’m going to be honest. The first night of the Democratic National Convention, I had to step away from the television because I started tearing up, then all-out crying. Not because of what the Democrats were or were not doing (I thought they did a good job considering the circumstances), but because it became so clear to me how much our country has lost during four years of Donald Trump.

Our children are not going to school. They cannot hug their grandparents. People are dying, of coronavirus, of racism. Our economy is down the tubes. We have lost so much so quickly since November 2016, including democratic freedoms that were never perfect but always something to work from.

This is not a hypothetical warning. Authoritarianism has already become more entrenched than even most Democrats would have believed in November 2016. If we believe in democracy, we are going to have to fight for people to vote, for votes to be counted, and for election results and ultimately our Constitution to be honored. It will not be easy, but the alternative is a country where people face state-sponsored violence for typing things like this blog post. That future is uncomfortably close.

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