Comforting analysis of what Trump can or cannot do

I’m hoping most of you keep an eye on the Youtube channel Beau of the Fifth Column, but if you haven’t seen it, this video is worth a few minutes of your time. Over the next few years, I think we’re likely to get a trickle of revelations about the work the GOP did to dismantle the infrastructure of the US government, and of US democracy (such as it is), but fortunately, he wasn’t able to do enough damage to keep himself in power.


That said, It seems very likely to me that the GOP is going to continue its adherence to fascist ideology and tactics, and they will try this again. People sometimes like to play the “who was the worst president” game, and while cases can be made for various people, the reality is that no president exists in a vacuum. The actions of each are made possible by those that came before. Trump’s immigration policies built on what the Obama administration did. Trump and Obama both made use of the security apparatus that was developed under George W Bush, and so on. It’s possible that the institutions of the American government will be patched up enough that the next would-be dictator will have as much difficulty as Trump did – or more – but it is by no means guaranteed.

Regardless of what comes next, I hope it is becoming clear to everyone that the version of representative democracy with which we are familiar is a failure. We cannot delegate self-governance to “leaders” by voting every couple years, and trust them to act for the common good. We must learn how to take a more active role in how our country is governed, not just to get the changes we need with regard to climate change and economic justice, but also to hold on to the dream of democracy, and to work to bring it into reality.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    A couple of observations :
    1. You are reserving your ire here for the Republicans. If I lived in the US (and lacked the resources to leave) is be at least as angry with the Democrats. You hint at this with mention of Obama’s immigration policy. There are other examples. Not least, Clinton was tripped up by the electoral college, a system she was in a position to alter if there’d been the will.
    2.”We must learn how to take a more active role in how our country is governed” – while bunch of people tried that January 6th.careful what you wish for…

  2. another stewart says

    I don’t see how Clinton could have fixed the Electoral College – that requires a constitutional amendment, and constitutional amendments have to be approved by a supermajority of the states, never mind the problem of first getting it past Republicans in the Senate and House. Abolishing the Electoral College (as part of a wider Voting Rights Amendment?) is desirable, but it’s not clear that it’s achievable.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    “it’s not clear that it’s achievable.”

    What is clear is that nobody has bothered to try. Like much else that’s self – evidently wrong with the USA, there’s no appetite to fix it from anyone with any sniff of power.

  4. says

    FaiVote list several attempts to abolish the Electoral College or establish proportional representation. Maybe people should check their facts before posting.

  5. says

    I have plenty of ire for the Democratic Party, but they aren’t the ones whose primary project for the last few decades has been undermining what little democracy the US does have.

    The Dems have been bad at pushing back, and in some instances have helped that effort, but it hasn’t been their main goal in the same way, and some of them have been consistent and active in sounding the alarm and pushing back against it.

    As to direct involvement in democracy, I’ve written about the kinds of things I think people should start doing, and they don’t involve attacking the US capitol to try to keep the leader of a fascist movement in power. Not even close.

    I’m generally very careful what I wish for, which is why I’m not concerned that my work would lead to that kind of outcome.

  6. says

    On the electoral college, there are efforts underway to abolish it or to make it irrelevant (the interstate national popular vote compact, for example), but it’s not something that’s easy or quick to get rid of, even if the entire Democratic party was on board with doing so, and at least some of party leadership seems to prefer the conservative/neoliberal policies and priorities that come from GOP administrations, not to mention the way it lets them pretend to be progressive while blaming their lack of progress on the GOP.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    another stewart @ # 2: I don’t see how Clinton could have fixed the Electoral College …

    As a new member of the US Senate, elected in 2000 when the Bush-Gore tarfu made the problems of the E.C. highly visible to all, Clinton promised to introduce a Constitutional amendment providing for direct election of the president and vice-president.

    Eight years (and one re-election) later, she left the Senate to join the Obama administration, having fulfilled her commitment with typical Clinton zeal for progressive change (namely, not a trace). That this came around to bite her in the butt in ’16 indicates that the arc of justice in the universe bends much more toward the ironic than the effectual.

  8. DanDare says

    One change to rep. Democracy in the US might be to implement an un-vote. After someone is in voters can post an un-vote once each during the term. The un-vote threshold is 100% of the votes gained last election. Every 10% of the term the unvote threshold drops by 10%. If the total unvotes is over the threshold then the seat is up for reelection.

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