By Earnest Everhard IV - (see end note for source of the name)
I am not sure how to start. How do you describe something that people don’t want to believe? And, for which I can really not offer answers.
At times, I feel like the very last scene in the original movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or, to be a bit more archaic – the characters out of Gilberts and Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer” in the song “Aline.” In both cases, the people are shouting or singing - “it’s too late!” And, for those around them, who don’t understand the danger that is in front of them, the characters—especially the one in the “Body Snatchers”—seem to be unhinged.
Perhaps I should just say I feel like the painting titled “the Scream” – if that is not too much of a cliché by now. The subject of that work seemed unhinged as well.
What I am about to say may indeed seem unhinged, yet as in both the movie, the play, and the painting, the crying voice was correct; their fears were not understood. To quote Bertolt Brecht, from his play about Galileo; “Before all can know the truth – one must know the truth.” But I can’t be so arrogant as to think I am the only one thinking this.
Perhaps this essay should be called the “Invasion of the Freedom Snatchers” and as with the movie, I believe it is too late for this country. We who support democracy and freedom have already lost, and there is nothing we can do. Our attachment to the institutions that form this republic have allowed this takeover or “snatching” by forces intent on having a “Single Party State. They want a country ruled without real opposition, and for the benefit of the very few; not based on love of freedom and opportunity, but on fear and hate of the “other.” They “won” power through “democratic means” but are intent on keeping that power by manipulating the very system that they really hate.
Do I sound unhinged yet?
We have been living through a slow process that seems to have reached some real tipping point with the election of Trump. All the while we thought this was still all a functioning democracy. We are that frog in the pot of water brought slowly to a boil, without understanding the danger. But in fact the election of Trump is the final outcome (or middle stage) of this slow process, not the beginning, or anywhere near beginning. The water has been heating for almost forty years. It began when the GOP changed from being an “American” party – diverse and filled with people with different interests that compromised on issues – to a “European” Right-wing Nationalist, leadership-driven party, with enormous amounts of money and an ideology based on power through hatred. This led to the GOP elective officers being totally dependent upon the leadership of the party for re-election, and for their personal power. It’s a party that blocks progress when not in power, and breaks established rules when in power, to control and centralize power, and insure their continued rule. It’s a party out to destroy multi-party democracy, and to replace it with single party dictatorship. Over several decades we have been watching a “lawful revolution” take place in this country. This is not like social revolutions; it’s not a change in sex habits, a fitness fad, or a dance craze. It’s not even a political shift like “the Reagan Revolution.” No, I am talking about the dictionary definition of the political term – “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.”
Of course, the word “forcible” can have various meanings, and what has happened in the US better fits the term “lawful overthrow,” much as in Germany when the Nazis rose to power. Or, as has happened in so many other countries where one party takes over a democratic government, and whittles away peoples’ rights, while creating a single party dictatorship. The driving forces in America’s revolution have been propaganda of hate and division, and the money to spread the propaganda. But there is more to come. Already GOP controlled states are creating laws that criminalize dissent—with heavy prison terms for protests that (for instance) block the street. The process of force is building again, as it did 100 years ago against unions, or 60+ years ago against apparent “Communist and fellow travelers,” or for centuries against Blacks through slavery, and then Jim Crow.
Unlike in Germany, where the Nazi takeover of the government through lawful means took a very short time, the process in the US has spread over close to forty years, ever since the Republican Party transformed. Ever since FOX News and so many other right-wing media pundits (Savage and Rush, etc.) began creating the emotional and intellectual foundation for a slow revolution. It may have even started when Newt Gingrich forced the GOP to be “disciplined:” The movement has since grown, and used the tools of control and manipulation within our beloved democracy as they became available.
We can review every election since 1980 and see that the GOP creates a straw dog symbol of hate. Willy Horton, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood; oh yes, let’s not forget death panels and swift-boating. Now, it’s immigrants, Muslims, and “lock her up.” It used to be that love of God, hatred of gays, and love of guns won elections. The words may change; the chants and charges may have changed, but not the intent.
More important is what the GOP has done, and is doing, once they take over states through gerrymandering and hate campaigns, they redistricted legislative and congressional districts to assure that they would have a permanent majority. – They have destroyed the intent and purpose of the voting right laws, and so democracy itself. The most glaring example is Texas, where by essentially illegal means they rigged the voting districts, and state Democrats went into hiding in a futile effort to stop the process. The results of the gerrymandering were an additional 6 “safe” GOP congressional seats – at the expense of six likely swing, if not Democratic, seats. At the time – this almost assured a GOP majority in the US house --- But that was only the most glaring example.
The GOP gerrymandered every state where they were able, giving defacto permanent party control in some thirty-six states. It’s worse than Jim Crow single party rule, based on race. This is domination is based on a centralized ideology-driven party, and not restricted to the South; this effort has created a manipulated control of the state legislatures and the US House.
Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, as we saw in the last election, are razor tight general election states, which overwhelmingly have GOP legislatures—all through gerrymandering. The same is true now in Wisconsin and Michigan. Florida is 70% GOP in the state house. In South Carolina, with a 40% Black population, the gerrymandering is so complete that there is only one “Black congressional district,” and 7 conservative white-controlled districts, and their state legislature is worse. Based on voting behavior in Pennsylvania, the Congressional delegation should be nearly even. Thanks to GOP gerrymandering it is overwhelmingly republican. As a result, the GOP is now only one state away from being able to pass constitutional amendments.
And plans are underway for these constitutional actions. Good-bye Roe; good-bye Gay rights. The fact that there are “common” pieces of legislation proposed in all the GOP states is not a coincidence. This too is highly centralized and controlled through GOP “think tanks,” such as the State Policy Network (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Policy_Network). GOP legislatures get their marching orders on bills to that will restrict the woman’s right to choose, destroy public education and unions, and curtail voting rights through restricted access of minorities.
For people living in these states it is already too late. They are already living in single party dictatorships where elections really have no meaning—gerrymandered to the point where there is no Democratic hope of taking them back.
And it really doesn’t matter that several states (Alabama, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and others) have had their legislative and congressional districting plans declared unconstitutional based on overt racism by Federal courts, because again, it’s too late. The Attorney General, who is supposed to enforce these rulings, is an unsympathetic Trump appointee. Trump will also appoint a generation of federal judges, so soon the safeguard of the courts will also be gone. The US attorneys will be his puppets rather than independent protectors of the law.
Since the Trump victory I keep being told, “focus on 18; We can win back seats because Trump will screw up.” To that I once again have to say, “too late.” Remember the key states lost by Clinton, which gave Trump the Electoral College by a combined 100,000 votes or so? They are states where the GOP has done everything they can get away with to limit voting registration and participation. It is estimated that millions of people in these states could not vote due to GOP barriers. In the previous election, in 2012 the Pennsylvania GOP was bragging that their legislation limiting early voting and requiring voter ID would assure a GOP victory. They were only off by one election.
Already Trump and the GOP are in the process of purging millions more off the roles. Trump’s claim that he won the legal vote majority will be used to create a federal process to reinforce what is already happening in all the GOP controlled states. The election of 2018 is already cooked. It matters little that the Democrat Governors’ Association is now launching a “campaign against gerrymandering.”
Once again – I say in my unhinged fashion, it is too late.
So what to do? Or to quote Lenin “What is to be done?” I am not sure there is an answer beyond fantasy. To right-wing nationalist single party rulers, mass demonstrations have no impact. Polls have no meaning; the “liberal press” is the opposition party. And the Democratic party’s ability to compete in elections is losing its impact (if it’s not already gone). We are too late. The “revolution was televised” and we just watched as if it was another episode of “Game or Thrones.”
In conclusion, I have studied revolutions—political ones of the left and right, and of all kinds—for decades. Not only have I studied them, I have participated in a few not-so-successful revolutionary movements. It gives me a very different perspective from most Americans as to what has happened, and what is to come. Based on history, I see the likelihood of success for this slow-rolling fascist revolution in America. I know that there is virtually no way to stop it, relying on the tools we have within the framework of our democracy (elections, the courts, demonstrations, etc.). The GOP is ruthless; moderation mean, little. In their minds “resistance is futile.”
From a historical viewpoint, our fleckless Democratic leaders will be as unsuccessful at stopping or slowing this process, as the fleckless leaders of the Social Democratic Party were at trying to stop the lawful Nazi revolution. The one force that could put an end to all of this is the military (in Germany they really did have several chances to stop Hitler and failed to act because Hitler had success after success due to the West’s “appeasement” approach). In the US, the military is unlikely to act. We have no foundation or history of coups. And besides, Trump has given unprecedented powers within the government to ex-military people.
From history we know that, short of violent attempts by the masses that are doomed almost before they start, the only potential solution of winning back our republic, is to follow Gandhi. Complete non-violent, non-cooperation, like we saw in India, and with the left side of the American civil rights movement filling jails and the clogging the system.
Of course, this will bring repression, and propaganda justifying control of the new “right-wing revolutionary government.” But as Gandhi said, “There will be defeats and horrible consequences for those who resist tyranny, but in the long run love will win out.”
Unfortunately, Gandhi’s style of resistance requires mass support and huge numbers to be successful. And the time required to create this base of support will prove that we are once again too late (even in this age of social media). It takes a lot of time for large numbers of people to reach the conclusions I am suggesting here – without appearing unhinged. To move from working within the system to saying the system is not working, then moving from demonstrating to mass civil disobedience is a long process for most people. And it comes with the consequence of potential imprisonment, even if for a short time.
So yes, resist … and resist again … but we must attempt to persuade the public that it is too late to resist by the normal process. The “body politic” has already been snatched. “THEY ARE HERE!” - Resistance requires personal risks and not just a few hours of fun in a mass demonstration. I hate to end with a quote from Mao, but Americans must learn the meaning of one of his most famous sayings – “A revolution is not a tea party.” People like Gandhi, King, and Bayard Rustin (if you don’t know who his is, please look him up) all taught us how to resist in a way in which we did not fear their prisons – As a person with multiple arrests for civil disobedience against the Viet Nam war, and for other social justice issues – in my unhinged fashion I declare this is something we must relearn in this new age of the coming of single party rule.
End note :
Earnest Everhard is the main character in the 1908 book by Jack London named “The Iron Heel” which was a dystopian account of the US taken over in the 1930’s by a fascist-type government (written long before the term fascism came into being). Earnest Everhard was one of the leaders of the failed resistance to the dictatorship, remembered later as a great hero when eventually the dictatorship was overthrown.
The book was remarkable in its projections. Only the country was wrong. But not the facts about the Fascism. That happened. Or perhaps he just got the country wrong until now.