Now the Saudis, apparently still collaborating with the Trump family, are refusing to increase oil production so that high prices at the pump will politically harm President Biden and the Democrats in elections this fall.
There is not even proportionality here. Three million versus $2 billion and massive political sabotage? And another billion Saudis for Steve Mnuchin, and who knows how many more have gone to one of Donald’s untraceable offshore dumpsters? We’ll probably never know, because there isn’t a single congressional investigation into Jared, and the DOJ doesn’t seem to be interested in Trump family corruption.
So why do Republicans tolerate jaw-dropping levels of corruption and crime among their elected officials and cronies, but Democrats don’t?
Al Franken is no longer a senator: He posed for a photo gag with his hands six inches above the chest of a woman who was in on the joke, but then took the photo to right-wing media who fabricated a scandal. During the short media life of the Franken scandal, Donald Trump likely raped or purchased sex with two other women or teenage models.
It seems the Democratic leadership is suffering from a serious lack of outrage.
If Joe Biden were to betray American values by letting his son-in-law, who was so compromised he couldn’t get a security clearance, run American foreign policy and then take $2 billion from the primary beneficiaries of his decisions, how much years of hearings would we have? Can you spell “Benghazi” or “But his emails?”
But it goes far beyond selective outrage: conservatives live in an entirely different space from ordinary Americans, both politically and psychologically. This is the mindset of authoritarian rulers and followers. The way people with authoritarian tendencies understand politics and reality.
The Republican Party today is committed to the one principle that has animated popes and kings for the past 2,000 years:
“There are rules for you, and there are different rules for me. I pretend they are the same, but I use my power to make sure they are very different in practice.
This has always been the core tenet of strongman oligarchies like Hungary, Russia, and the nation conservatives want America to become:
“Some of us are above the law because we enforce the law.”
It is the absolute antithesis of democracy, which explicitly says that the law must bind everyone equally, otherwise it loses its meaning. And its ultimate expression today is in the #DarkMAGA movement which wants a more violent and unconstitutionally repressive repeat of Trump’s term.
Authoritarians accept the breaking of the law by authority figures because they see the world in terms of power relations: there are those above them and those below them. And for their own safety and security, they want to align themselves with that power above them.
Throughout my life, I’ve held positions of power enough times to identify with this type of personality that I’ve come to think of as “kiss, knock” people. When they perceive me as having more power than them, they are obsequious; when they think I’m powerless over them, they act like I don’t exist – or worse.
Authoritarian leaders dedicate their lives to being at the top of this hierarchy, first embracing each other until they gain power, then proudly and constantly exacting revenge; Donald Trump is probably the example that most Americans would immediately recognize.
Another good example is Ted Cruz, an authoritarian who wants to be president, simpering and sucking off Tucker Carlson on live television, then redeeming himself by publicly abusing and “punching” a black woman, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Bossy followers are also typically “kiss, spill” personalities, but their main commitment is to “kiss each other”. This is why they spend most of their lives finding authority figures above them that they can follow and who they believe will protect them, if only through affiliation. These are the people with the oversized flags and the Trump signs.
Authoritarian supporters – including most Republican voters – tolerate abuse of power by those above them because the very act of abuse of power demonstrates it, and they want to follow as much power as possible. .
That’s why the most effective way for a strongman to demonstrate his true power is to abuse it, break the law, violate societal norms, and get away with it. Like Putin and Trump.
As Winston Churchill pointed out:
“The power of the executive to throw a man into prison without making any charge known to the law, and above all to shield him from the judgment of his peers, is…the foundation of all totalitarian government…”
Donald Trump announced it with his “Lock her up! song. No appeal to due process; just throw your opponent in jail.
When an authoritarian ruler does this, it binds his followers even more fiercely to him because it makes them feel safe. They assume that even if he breaks the law, he will also be willing to use or even, if necessary, break the law to protect them.
Breaking the law, for authoritarians and in the minds of their supporters, represents a kind of quasi-mythical “superpower”.
Republican supporters themselves even delight in breaking the law just to prove their connection to their leader: look at the many cases of fraudulent voting that have been uncovered in the last year; nearly every one was a Republican committing voter fraud to endorse Trump and the GOP.
Trump supporters also drove Kamala Harris’ campaign bus off the road in Texas in 2016 and now regularly find opportunities to assault or harass normal Americans. They vandalize opposition political signs or cars with Biden bumper stickers, set fire to Democratic offices and even murder abortion providers.
The world saw the demonstration peak of this dynamic on January 6 of last year. And now 57% of Republicans say what happened that day was “patriotism” rather than a “crime.”
The conservative movement from Edmund Burke and John Adams in the 1790s down to Goldwater, Reagan and Trump always had this seed of authoritarian and aristocratic thought at its core.
John Kenneth Galbraith is often quoted as saying:
“The modern curator is engaged in one of the oldest human exercises in moral philosophy; that is to say, the search for a moral justification superior to selfishness.
But it’s not just selfishness: Conservatives throughout history have also sought to create their own mob that doesn’t have to adhere to the same rules they would impose on everyone else.
As noted by musician Frank Wilhoit in a 2018 comment on the Crooked Timber blog:
“Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, namely: ‘There must be inner groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside outer groups whom the law binds but does not protect. “
Understanding this dynamic gives us the key to how authoritarian leaders gain and lose power; it is a key which they all know and understand, and which they universally fear.
Because authoritarian supporters – like today’s Trump sycophants – will only bind themselves to an authoritarian leader who has power significantly greater than themselves, the way to break that bond is to strip the leader of his able.
As mentioned, all authoritarian leaders know and understand this dynamic; they only have supporters as long as they have power. When they lose power, they not only lose their supporters; most of these followers will turn against them like rejected lovers.
Mussolini and his mistress, for example, were trying to flee Italy as his country was losing World War II; he was caught near Lake Como, by the Swiss border. The next day they were both executed and their bodies taken to Milan, where, after spending the day lying in a park where people were told to kick and spit on them, their bodies were hanged the head down in front of a city gas station. square.
This is why authoritarians never voluntarily relinquish power or admit defeat: like Hitler, they often commit suicide.
If, like Mussolini, their attempts to flee are thwarted, they are often killed by their own. Even Pinochet, though removed from power by constitutional means, ended up being arrested and charged for his crimes before eventually being released by death from a heart attack.
They are hard but brittle, like glass statues. And when they are discredited and seen as “losers”, they break.
Understanding this is key to why Putin will level cities committing genocide and risk World War III before declaring a loss in Ukraine. It also explains why Trump is absolutely unwilling to admit that he lost the 2020 election, even in the face of overwhelming evidence and an overwhelming margin of 7 million votes for Biden.
It is also the key to how to end the reign of Trumpism, at least in its current incarnation.
Jovan Pulitzer, who conducted the “audit” of Maricopa, was just asked to describe Trump: “A messiah in Judaism is the person who would bring to the world the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. .. I believe that Donald Trump is a messiah .. it’s a fulfilled prophecy.
If the January 6 Committee can smash the image of “Trump as Savior” and instead paint him as a pathetic loser who has turned to criminal activity to cling to power, and paint that picture so vividly that even Trump supporters understand his reality to their toes, his devotees will abandon him.
But it’s going to require Democratic leaders — and the few Republican members of Congress committed to our democracy — to express a serious level of outrage, again and again in every media outlet they can find, over a period of months. . Think Benghazi, but this time with a real crime.
Next, America must turn its attention to the next corrupt authoritarian strongman who wants to end democracy in America: Ron DeSantis.