In case you haven’t noticed, a breakaway faction of the Republican party is currently enjoying its day in the political sun here in the U.S. And for those of us who value the continued existence of our constitutional system, and democracy at large, things have seemed, well… more than a little bit bleak, in recent months. Prior to viewing this article, I would suggest you read up on (or at the very least skim) some of the relevant literature from a growing field of political science known as de-democratization; a solid compilation of such literature can be found here.
I recognize it’s hard sometimes to “separate the wheat from the chaff,” as it were – and when both people on the left and the right are simultaneously screaming about one another’s Nazi inspirations, it can be tempting to merely shake our heads at both. But make no mistake, there are anti-democratic forces at work today in America, and the threat exists primarily on the political right. Hard-left and similarly communist-sympathetic groups are worrisome but marginalized today, little more than denizens of the left-wing political fringe. On the other hand, the contemporary Hard-right currently enjoys immense political power in the United States. The illiberal tendencies of this contingent of the Republican Party constitute the most significant threat to the post-WWII Western political order in our lifetimes, in my opinion and in the opinion of various scholars.
But this threat was not created by Donald Trump’s rise; rather, he merely exploited its prior existence and identified the pool of its support. The text below contains an incomplete but substantive compilation of the beliefs of some of the more high profile anti-democratic actors currently aligned with the Trump administration, and who are encouraging its policies. I encourage any and all readers to double check the veracity of the quotes and excerpts I’ve compiled. I wish that I were making them up, but unfortunately for all of us, I am not.
Ann Coulter (Author, “In Trump We Trust”)
On the topic of Muslims/the killing of civilians:
- “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war.”
- “If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.”
- “Take a camel” (response to a student’s question regarding how Muslims should travel, were they to be barred from entering airplanes).
- “I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.”
On Race Relations/President Obama:
- “He says the reason black people keep to themselves is that it’s ‘easier than spending all your time mad or trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you.’ Here’s a little inside scoop about white people: We’re not thinking about you. Especially WASPS. We think everybody is inferior, and we are perfectly charming about it.”
On Liberals and corporal punishment:
- “We need to execute people like (John Walker Lindh) in order to physically intimidate liberals.”
- “Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.”
- “I have to say I’m all for public flogging. One type of criminal that a public humiliation might work particularly well with are the juvenile delinquents, a lot of whom consider it a badge of honor to be sent to juvenile detention. And it might not be such a cool thing in the ‘hood’ to be flogged publicly.”
- “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’”
- “We should be fingerprinting environmentalists… They are out to destroy the country.”
Joe Arpaio (Pardoned by Trump)
- “Arpaio has said of his immigration law enforcement efforts, ‘Ours is an operation where we want to go after illegals, not the crime first… It’s a pure program. You go after them, and you lock them up.’”
- “As of September 2012, Arpaio was a defendant in a federal class action suit and a United States Department of Justice suit, both of which alleged racial profiling”
- “In early 2010, Arpaio… sought to have a grand jury indict a number of Maricopa County judges, Maricopa County supervisors, and employees of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The grand jury, in an unusual rebuke, ordered the investigation ended. This action has been described as meaning that ‘the case is so bad, there’s no further evidence that could be brought’ to substantiate it. Legal experts agreed this was a rare move.”
- “As of December 2011, a federal grand jury was investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and was specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad”
- “On August 25, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio for his conviction for criminal contempt of court, a decision that provoked considerable controversy.”
- “Trump also announced his decision on Twitter, declaring that Arpaio is an ‘American patriot’ who had ‘kept Arizona safe.’ Arpaio expressed his thanks to the President in a series of tweets and to his ‘loyal supporters.’ Arpaio also declared that his conviction was ‘a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!’ The Washington Post fact-checker gave the claim ‘Four Pinocchios’ (its worst rating), noting that Arpaio was convicted by two federal judges; a Bush-appointed federal judge, and federal judge respected by both Republicans and Democrats.”
- “I don’t bow down to the federal government.”
- “I don’t report to any politician. I report to the people. If I had to report to any politician, I’d quit tomorrow.” (Arpaio was a County sheriff, i.e., a local government official.)
- “Everything I did in the jails – chain gangs, everything – I haven’t changed the policy. I did it, I stand by it, and I’m not going to change.”
- “The Mexicans bowed down when we talked about removing their foreign aid, and then they began cooperating with our country.”
- “I’m an equal-opportunity law-enforcement guy – I lock everybody up.”
Roy Moore (endorsed by Trump)
On God and the Legal System:
- “If God gives you rights, no man or government can take them away from you.”
- “Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes.”
- “God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.”
Excerpt of an article reporting on Moore’s comments during a 2011 radio interview:
- “One of the hosts said he would like to see an amendment that would void all the amendments after the Tenth. ‘That would eliminate many problems,’ Moore replied. ‘You know people don’t understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.’”
- “The host then told Moore that the 14th Amendment — which guaranteed former slaves citizenship and equal protection — had been passed ‘only at the point of a gun.’ Moore replied, ‘Yeah, it had very serious problems with its approval by the states’”
Also see: Dominion theology
From USA Today:
- “At a September rally, Moore invoked slavery when describing what President Trump means when he says, ‘Make America great again.'”
- Moore was asked by a black man at an Alabama campaign stop what the president means by the phrase… Moore replied:
- “I think it was great at a time when families were united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another,” he said. “People were strong in the families. Our families were strong, our country had a direction, and we corrected many of the problems.”
On NFL players kneeling:
“It’s against the law.”
From The Washington Post/The New York Times/Newsweek:
- “Pirro has been criticized for actions that appear inconsistent with her commitment to the Constitution. Although she has warned of a ‘fascist, totalitarian’ movement ‘trying to silence’ free speech under the First Amendment, Pirro banned the press from reporting on her speech at the California Republican Party annual convention in October, 2017. Journalists were allowed to cover other events at the convention, and there were no signs of any danger to Pirro or other speakers at the event.
- What’s more, Pirro has called for arresting individuals who work for the FBI and the broader Justice Department who do not support Donald Trump. Pirro called for ‘cleansing’ those government agencies of people critical to the president, in language reminiscent of authoritarian regimes of the past century. These sorts of attacks on the FBI and Justice Department have been criticized as dangerous and strictly out of place with US traditions of constitutional democracy.“
In response to Trump’s (debunked) wire-tapping allegations against Obama:
- “Obama responsible for illegal surveillance of @realDonaldTrump – must be charged, convicted and jailed” – via Twitter
Responding to a critic who proposed Stone was engaging in libel, Stone replied:
- “bring it! Would enjoy crush u in court and forcing you to eat shit – you stupid ignorant ugly bitch !” – via Twitter
- “The reason I’m a Nixonite is because of his indestructibility and resilience. He never quit.”
- “Trump is the toughest guy I’ve ever met, and I’ve known some killers. His movement is bigger than the Republican Party, and he knows it.”
- “Those who are outraged will vote.”
- “In 2016, Hannity vociferously defended Roger Ailes when he was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. In May 2017, Hannity paid a tribute to Ailes after his death. Hannity called him ‘a second father’ and said to Ailes’s ‘enemies’ that he was ‘preparing to kick your a** in the next life.’”
- Hannity promoted the idea that there is a ‘deep state’ – a network of individuals within government that is working to hinder the Trump administration. He has described the ‘deep state’ as a ‘Shadow Government’ and ‘Deep state swamp of Obama holdovers and DC lifers.’ In March 2017, he called for a ‘purge’ of Obama-era bureaucrats and appointees in government. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Bret Stephens disputed Sean Hannity’s deep state allegations, saying they were an example of the ‘paranoid style in politics.’ Later that month, Hannity said that NBC News was part of the ‘deep state.’ In May 2017, he reiterated that deep state/intelligence operatives were trying to destroy the Trump presidency.
- In 2010, Sean Hannity said that Assange waged a ‘war’ on the United States, and that Wikileaks put American lives in ‘jeopardy’ and ‘danger’ around the world. He also criticized the Obama administration for failing to apprehend Assange. In 2016, after Wikileaks published leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Hannity praised Assange for showing ‘how corrupt, dishonest and phony our government is.’ He told Assange in a September 2016 interview, ‘I do hope you get free one day. I wish you the best.’ In May 2017, Hannity made an offer to Assange to guest host his Fox News TV show.
- In February 2017, Hannity retweeted a WikiLeaks tweet linking to an article by Gateway Pundit, claiming that John McCainwas a ‘globalist war criminal.’ McCain’s spokeswoman called Hannity out on it, asking him to ‘correct the record.'”
Publications (note the militaristic/”us vs. them” language employed in the titles):
“Hannity is the author of three books. The first two, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism and Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism”.
“Maurice Chammah characterized Clarke as an ‘iconoclastic sheriff,’ one of ‘a long line of controversy-courting lawmen’ that includes Richard Mack and Joe Arpaio in Arizona. Clarke has been ‘associated with those on the political extremes’… and has attracted attention for these ‘dalliances with the far right.’”
“Clarke has called for the suspension of habeas corpus in the United States in a December 2015 appearance on his radio program”
“Clarke’s department has come under fire for its use of restraints on pregnant women inmates. This controversial practice has been abolished or restricted by at least ten states, and has been prohibited by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections as well as by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.“
“In July 2016, a pregnant inmate at the jail with serious mental illness went into labor and the newborn baby died. The mother filed a federal lawsuit against the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, stating that she was denied medical attention before her pregnancy, had medical appointments canceled, received prenatal vitamins only once, and was ‘laughed at’ by guards after going into labor. This death and others at the jail prompted calls for Clarke’s resignation from a county supervisor and several Democratic state legislators.
History of abuses of power:
- “In February 2017, a Detroit-area man, Dan Black, filed a harassment lawsuit against Clarke after Milwaukee deputies detained the man at the Milwaukee airport in January. The man had asked Clarke about his football team preference and shook his head at Clarke. On the tarmac, Clarke sent text messages to one of his captains, Mark Witek, directing sheriffs’ deputies to detain Black. Clarke wrote: ‘Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut? Follow him to baggage and out the door. You can escort me to carousel after I point him out.’ After arriving at the airport, Black was ‘met by a group of six uniformed deputies and two dogs, all of whom were accompanied by the sheriff’ who questioned him before releasing him. Airport surveillance video showed Black telling deputies: ‘He [Clarke] thinks because I asked who he is, he can exert that kind of power over me.’ Local media reported that ‘at least one of the deputies who was ordered to confront Black didn’t believe he had been disruptive.’
- Milwaukee County auditors launched an investigation into whether Clarke abused taxpayer resources during the airport incident. Clarke has refused to cooperate with the investigation, and has blocked auditors from interviewing Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies. Clarke’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation prompted the Milwaukee County Board to authorize legal action against Clarke on the issue.”
Relationship with Trump:
- “Clarke is a strong supporter of Republican Donald Trump, saying during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign that he would “do everything I can” to help Trump win the presidency. Clarke spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In October 2016, Clarke tweeted, “It’s incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time.” with an attached photo of an angry mob holding pitchforks and torches. Clarke met with Trump, when Trump was president-elect, about a possible position in his administration.”
Via The Guardian:
- “We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” said Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump on immigration issues, appearing on the CBS program Face the Nation.
- “Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
The tragic part is that I could go on. There are others that deserve a mention; people like Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, etc. Obviously, Trump himself, but that one seems like it is more self-evident to most who are paying attention. The bottom line is that all of the aforementioned people are, on a fundamental level, disdainful of the idea of democracy and authoritarian by nature. They are also the people who are running, influencing, and/or supporting the current regime. Keep an eye on them. There is no doubt in my mind that if they could rule our nation as repressive Dictators, they would jump at the chance.
They will push on our institutions as much as they can, in the hopes that they’ll break. We cannot allow them to push too far; obviously, nonviolent resistance is the preferred method. I suggest we keep it up and ramp it up, because the stakes are incredibly high.