by James McElroy
Wednesday, 9
November 2022
Reaction
10:45

The ‘end of democracy’ waits for another year

The Democrats' rhetoric may have turned the tide, but at what cost?
by James McElroy
C’mon, man! Creddit: Getty

The apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the midterm elections reached new heights in the final days of the race. On MSNBC, historian Michael Beschloss claimed that the midterm elections were a choice between a future in which America remains a democracy and one in which our children will be arrested and killed. Cable news host Mehdi Hasan argued that democracy was in peril because Donald Trump wanted to feed immigrants to alligators. In a speech supporting Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, former president Barack Obama predicted that if Democrats didn’t vote for the nominee, it would usher in an authoritarian regime that would ban books and imprison journalists.

Today we learn that Fetterman has been elected as senator for the country’s fifth most populous state, despite having recently had a stroke. So did the apocalyptic “end of democracy” rhetoric shift the needle decisively in the Democrats’ favour? And if so, at what cost?

A recent New Yorker article helped explain the sequence of polling and testing that resulted in this choice of campaign rhetoric. After the Supreme Court decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, Democrat “super voters”, or those who vote in every election, became much more likely to answer political polls. Trafalgar pollster Robert Cahaly told Maria Bartiromo that President Joe Biden’s “MAGA extremist speech” also made Republicans less likely to share their views with canvassers. Democrat pollsters spoke to the most activist segment of their base and created messaging to their taste.

This could have misfired as a strategy, as the less activist parts of a party’s coalition can be put off by appeals to the base, but in this case it looks like, alongside concern over the abortion issue and the looming presence of Donald Trump, it prevented disaster for the Democrats. But what longer-term impact does such “end of democracy” rhetoric have on democracy itself?

Recent years have not felt especially democratic, outside of splenetic biennial elections. For example, no Covid restriction was put up to a vote. The American system of government has started to feel increasingly theatrical. As the population becomes jaded about democracy, so their technocratic politicians resort to ever more explicitly demagogic rhetoric to get out their vote.

But if voters truly took the Democrats’ apocalyptic messaging seriously, then they would be obligated to do much more than vote. Wouldn’t election volunteers be justified in cheating to ensure Nazis don’t come to power? Biden gave a national address warning that if Republicans won in the midterms it would mean the end of the rule of law. If Democrats truly believe that, then should Biden assume emergency powers and disband the legislative branch? The rhetoric demands drastic action, and when that doesn’t come it will only demoralise Democratic voters more. What rhetoric will they need to turn out the vote in 2024?

The “end of democracy” election message may have been tactically successful for Democrats in this cycle. But the wise among them ought to take a moment to assess whether it is prudent to encourage citizens to participate in routine processes by constantly declaring an existential state of emergency. It makes it necessary for the rhetoric to ratchet up again next time round. If that is the case, then the 2024 election has the potential to break the types of things that can’t be fixed.

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chris Barton
chris Barton
18 days ago

They are everything they accuse Trump and the MAGAers of.

Adrian Woodward
Adrian Woodward
18 days ago
Reply to  chris Barton

Classic projection of intentions on to others

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
16 days ago

Exactly: a tribe of narcissistic psychopaths.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
18 days ago

I think the hatred of Trump, combined with his omnipresence, explained why the democrats were so energized. Trump is becoming a curse (I voted for him twice, but enough already) : he endorsed Dr. Oz and Hershel Walker, Mastriano for governor of PA. FETTERMAN and Warnock should have been easy to beat. Mitch McConnell spent $80-$90 million to help them, Trump (sitting on a $100MM+ war chest) spent 2 or $3MM.

Now he’s threatening to disclose “very bad” information about Ron Desantis if he dares to run for president. Trump forced himself into the public eye and refused to put his money where his mouth is, and the Democrats were able to runa against him again. Time for him to GO.

aaron david
aaron david
18 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

” Mitch McConnell spent $80-$90 million to help them”
This is the core of the issue. Right now there is a split in the Republican party among class lines. And until they get this sorted out, they are going to lose.

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
17 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Trump’s poll numbers are incredibly strong among non-establishment, populist right-of-center voters (Republicans and some Independents), as opposed to establishment right-of-center and all left-of-center voters (everybody else). The reason why those numbers have remained strong notwithstanding the fact that he has been investigated and interfered with and uniformly hated and vilified in establishment media, academy, legal and bureaucratic circles constantly since he won the GOP nomination, is because of the view articulated by KatL below–only a crazy outsider who is unafraid to tangle with the Security Establishment (remember what Sen Schumer blurted out unprompted on Rachel Maddow’s show) and thus constitutes a reliable murder weapon to the Establishment will solve our current problem. This is viewed by Trump supporters as table stakes, since we’ve seen many Presidents pretend to be reformers but quickly were incorporated into the swamp. Indeed, Obama pretended to be an anti-war outsider and then proceeded to cave to the Security Apparatus and kill more people in the Middle East than George W Bush. Gov DeSantis, if elected, could prove to act like Obama, as most people likely would given that nearly all of us still retain a healthy sense of self-preservation. Trump seems willing to risk everything at this point. Perhaps out of megalomania, rather than virtue. But sometimes vice is virtue (like greed in a capitalist system). In fact, to turn the argument (made by liberals with TDS) upside down, if you think that the US imperial security apparatus has rigged elections not just abroad but in this country, and is currently pushing us to nuclear armageddon, then isn’t it better to have that guy in office even if he says insensitive things and even believes them? Only a foolish doctor is clipping hang nails when the patient is coding on the table.
So the way to defuse this support for Trump is to stop the regime from doing the things that give rise to the populist movement (i.e., acting like a totalitarian hyperpower that can act anywhere and do anything).
The way to defuse the support for Trump is to actually explain how it is that one can believe that the 2020 election was secure even though all of the battleground states had ballots with broken chain of custody (so we don’t actually know if they were legal) that number orders of magnitude more than the margins of victory. When Kari Lake told Dana Bash this on CNN, Bash said, “but Bill Barr, a Republican in Trump’s own administration said the election was secure.” But this is a logical fallacy. An appeal to false authority. Bill Barr by his own admission never examined the evidence to see where the chain of custody was broken to assure us that those ballots were legitimate, and laws were broken in every one of those battle ground states to count those ballots. So when the only reply to legitimate concerns about 2020 is an appeal to false authority (why didn’t Dana Bash just yell, “but Santa Claus!”???) or ad hominem attacks on those raising legitimate questions based upon real data (n.b.: Arizona has admitted 740K ballots lost chain of custody in a Presidential race decided by less than 12K, while Georgia has admitted to similarly problematic ballots that are at least 8x the margin of victory for Biden there), then it doesn’t build confidence. Hence the Rasmussen poll showing a majority of the public believes that major irregularities occurred in 2020.
The way to defuse the Trump support is to explain to the American public how risking WWIII in Ukraine is in the national interest, and how it is that we were there provoking the installation of missiles (potentially including nuclear ones) so close to the main population centers of Russia. Thinks about it this way… If China bought Canada and installed similar arms in Windsor, which is south of Detroit, then you have a similar situation to what the Russians are facing. Does anyone believe that the US wouldn’t invade Canada to stop that installation? I mean, we already had the Cuban Missile Crisis! So why shouldn’t we demand that the President and State Department and DoD explain why the US can do it, but Russia is crazy or evil for doing the same.
The way to defuse the Trump support is to explain to the American public why it’s okay for Larry Summers to admit that the massive Dem spending has caused the spike in inflation (always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon), but if Trumpers complain about declining real wages (the worst since at least the 1970s), then they are guilty of repeating GOP talking points?
The way to defuse the Trump support is to come clean on our open border rather than claiming it’s secure when literally no one believes it.
The way to defuse the Trump support is to come clean on the outrageous increases in crime statistics rather than saying, as HRC did recently, that this is a myth ginned up by Republicans.
The way to defuse the Trump support is to admit that democracy wasn’t on the ballot, but that democracy is a secure ballot, which the Constitution says that state legislatures are primarily responsible for ensuring–and not Governors or Secretaries of State or the partisan DoJ (who only sent monitors to red or reddish states)–and explain why it is the Dems that are primarily arguing for the overturning of those state legislature set guardrails, as we have seen in GA or PA.
You get the idea. Accountability, which we have precious little of, is the way to stop the huge populist movement that Trump now commands. But apparently, that accountability strikes more fear into the Establishment than Trump does. And that means that the Establishment is the bigger threat to American democracy, properly functioning, than Trump ever will be.

Last edited 17 days ago by Ari Rete
Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago
Reply to  Ari Rete

Dude – the independents hate him and we need them to beat the democratic Cathedral juggernaut ‍♂️

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
16 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Have you asked yourself why the independents hate him more than they hate Biden? Have you asked why independents would call Oz less qualified than Fetterman? We need to defeat the framing that allowed the majority of the country to believe the lies that Covid didn’t come from a lab (and if you thought so you were racist or contributing to Asian deaths, that lockdowns work (despite decades of data showing otherwise), that masks work (although the data once the virus mutated to aerosolized spread said otherwise), that the vaccine stops spread (even though the monkey trials showed otherwise so Pfizer and Moderna refused to test that theory knowing it didn’t), that everyone had the same risk vis a vis the virus even though it was more dangerous than flu only for those over 75 or 80 while far less dangerous than a common cold for anyone under 40 (and Dr. Ionidis at Stanford correctly calculated that during the first month of the pandemic). And that’s just the example of the pandemic.
I could take you through the same set of lying narratives around money, crime, homelessness, etc. In every case, the official stories, which are the only ones allowed to be told, are so obviously at odds with the data, but if you cite the data you are cancelled. That way, they can convince the people voting or the people harvesting the ballots (who are enthusiastically supporting the regime to stop Hitler) that they are doing God’s work.
It is the powerful propaganda that causes masses of people to believe what isn’t true that needs to be addressed. And this is what Vaclav Havel said long ago in his Nobel-winning essay, Power of the Powerless. You must get others to see that the lies that they repeat are lies, and even when they persecute for the lies, you need to act as a dissident and continue to tell the truth.
When institutional failure is virtually universal, as it is now under the uni-party rule of the last several decades that leads from monopoly control to massive corruption (Lord Acton), then the lies also become universal, and these need to be attacked head on. If you accept the lies, then you will continue to lose.
It is the truth and the truth alone that will set you free.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
17 days ago
Reply to  Ari Rete

Or we could not do any of that and primary Trump out with the guy who just turned his state fire-engine red. Just thinking that might be easier and, long term, much more effective.

Bernardo 0
Bernardo 0
17 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Trump does so much damage to the Republican brand that the Democratic Campaign Committee would probably spend money on his 2024 run as he would be an easier candidate to defeat than Ron DeSantis.

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
16 days ago
Reply to  Bernardo 0

If you kill Trump, who is one of only a handful of people in America with 30+ years of massive brand equity built up (who else is there? Madonna? Oprah?), then you will be left with another candidate who believes in similar things but doesn’t have that brand equity. And trust me, the Dems will start calling DeSantis the new Hitler. Do you really think that a party that has full institutional control to turn Mother Teresa into Judas is not going to exercise that power on anyone who cannot be corrupted and who can credibly take the power away from those currently in charge? If you do, then I have a lot of unbranded oceanfront property in Nebraska to sell you…
The reason why Trump is hated is because the entire Establishment has been trashing him unfairly for years now. If you dump him, you reward the bad behavior. We all know (or should know) that whatever Trump has been accused of was done far worse previously or subsequently by Obama and Biden and Clinton. Moreover, you have a lot of so-called Trumper election deniers that have won races where the Dem ballot machine is not operative (eg OH), and even in places where it is operative (eg WI), so the very idea that Trump needs to be dumped is being uniformly advocated by folks that are closet Liz Cheney’s (eg Karl Rove), and these folks do not wish to course correct, but just want the GOP to rejoin as the other corrupt half of the uni-party to go back to the business as usual you-focus-on-the-forever-wars-to-support-a-dollarized-global-economy-while-we-focus-on-the-excessive-govt-spending-to-live-beyond-our-means-due-to-the-profligacy-privilege-of-that-reserve-currency. Until you see that both the GOP and the Dem parties need to be vanquished or reformed, you will have that Administrative State working against the move to return the US to its productive roots (i.e., no forever wars abroad, and no living beyond our means at home, right to work over right to welfare, freedom over regulatory constraint, efficiency over equity, etc.).

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
16 days ago
Reply to  Ari Rete

A magnificent series of posts. I think you’ve very concisely and perceptively summed up the whole set of issues here. Chapeau.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
15 days ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

I thought he went on a bit too much.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
16 days ago
Reply to  Bernardo 0

Maybe…. Maybe not.
Trouble is, if Trump doesn’t win the Republican nomination, I expect he’ll go and stand as an Indepedent candidate, like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, getting maybe 20% of the vote and leaving DeSantis with 36% and the Corporate Warmongering Woke Swamp-Dems with 44%and the Presidency.

Last edited 16 days ago by Peter Joy
Kat L
Kat L
18 days ago

The country is effectively over. The best way forward is to acknowledge that fact, leave them to enjoy their decline and one party rule and move on to safe states where defenses can be established. If they would rather freeze and starve than vote for change they deserve everything coming. Trump was a loudmouth but he was the only one who would actually change anything. Traditional Republicans have been useless for 40-50 years, never defended anything but their bank accounts. I like DeSantis but don’t know if he could do what is necessary to route out the corruption that is so prevalent now.

Last edited 18 days ago by Kat L
Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago
Reply to  Kat L

True ‘Day. If Trump gets indicted I think Desantis could get things done and deal with press etc without enraging independents. But who knows, Trump will go where his ego leads, Republicans be damned.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
18 days ago

Isn’t there some cognitive dissonance going on with US media and voters?
From this remove, judging by his actions, not words, in office, Trump seems like the least authoritarian president of the last 50 years.

aaron david
aaron david
18 days ago

He was. But the media class hated him with a passion only reserved for Labors hatred of Thatcher.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
18 days ago

I don’t know much about the USA but my takeaway from this is that voters just aren’t keen on Trump and that if the Republicans run with DeSantis and the Dems carry on being so out of touch with voters then the GOP might win in 2024.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Exactly – 20-30% rapid, energized Trump loyalists, but independents (especially women) have proven that they can’t stomach him -which means we lose (like yesterday) – struggling to maintain the House.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
18 days ago

The message to Republicans is straightforward: if you want the White House dump the Trump.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

A-F___ing dump him.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
18 days ago

I just read an entire article, on the subject of the Democrats holding their position in the mid-terms, which failed to mention student loan cancellation.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
18 days ago

This election felt like the Fete in Dostoyevsky’s The Demons. Something was going on but one knows not what. When the revelation at last takes place it’s too late.

Marshall Auerback
Marshall Auerback
18 days ago

This is precisely why the GOP must not choose Trump in 2024. He legitimizes this kind of nonsensical hysteria. If the GOP wants to show that it is a serious conservative party, and not a political death cult, it woukd behoove them to choose someone like Ron DeSantis

Michael Daniele
Michael Daniele
18 days ago

Trump legitimizes the leftist hysteria? How?

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago

Independents and suburban women hate him – who cares what reason! The idea is to win, not blame people who won’t vote for him for irrational motives.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
16 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Irrationality is not ‘legitimate’.
What it is, though, in the dumbed-down, feminised virtual West, is a fact of life.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
17 days ago

It doesn’t matter how. They hate him. He won by less than 100K votes in 2016. He lost in 2020. Most of his candidates lost yesterday. The ones that didn’t largely didn’t campaign with him.
Keep his issues. But Trump has served his purpose. A real man would see this and bow out gracefully for the benefit of his party and his country. Alas…

James Stangl
James Stangl
17 days ago

I think that a local conservative radio host put it best: similar to a sports team, if the coach has a record of losing critical games due to player choices and poor play calls, he needs to be fired. Especially if he has a dynamite assistant coach in the wings.

De Santis has taken Florida from a swing state to a red state, and trounced his opponent. Any number of Trump’s anointed picks lost races that should have been GOP wins, especially in the current economic climate. Besides which, I’m tired of seeing the major US parties run by ossified older Baby Boomers (Biden 78, Trump 76, Pelosi way beyond her sell-by date). Time for The Donald to step aside for the good of the party and nation and remove a huge campaign bonus for the Dems.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
17 days ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Now THIS is an excellent analogy !

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
17 days ago

This election was very strange, not because of the dangerous rhetorical tactics employed by the incumbent party–although that was as destructive to civil discourse as it was predictable given the circumstances–but rather, because 80% of the country says that we are on the wrong track, and yet the incumbents won massively on both sides. Worse, Biden’s poll numbers are the worst of any President, including Trump, going back to the start of polling. Moreover, the issues that the GOP could campaign on, given that the economy has deteriorated so obviously and amazingly under the weight of bad Dem policies, far outweighed in importance in the minds of all voters (i.e., inflation and real wage deterioration >>>> abortion and 1/6 committee “findings”). The normal loss of seats isn’t happening, and we’ve seen those in every case under Trump, Obama, Clinton. Only Bush 43, in the midst of a war, has avoided a pattern going back to FDR. So this election result is very, very strange indeed. And all of the explanations for it given this morning are insufficient. Abortion was far outweighed by economic deterioration, and the most pro-life governors in the states that could enact abortion limitations or bans did very well, while the GOP did badly in states where abortion limitations will never happen. So this is not an intelligent explanation. Election deniers won a bunch of elections, so the ones that lost must have had other detractors or flaws to explain the difference, and according to Rasmussen polling data, more than 50% of the country believes that there were many strange irregularities in the 2020 election that haven’t been examined much less explained adequately–and shouting conspiracy theorist or election denier is not an explanation. In short, the results are a big rorschach test into which people feed their pre-existing biases or self-serving propaganda, but I’m seeing little compelling analysis based upon real data to explain this anomalous result. Maybe that’s because it’s a very complex answer with a bunch of small drivers. Or because things happened that we cannot see, since the pollsters and media and others are not able or willing to search for the truth. Hopefully, we figure it out, since this is not the kind of result that is good for expanding accountability of government. You cannot have accountability when the feedback loop appears broken.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  Ari Rete

Other people on this site seem to think there is a simple and obvious explanation: Trump.

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
16 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Silver bullets are popular things.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
17 days ago

Democrats have rightly concluded that the people disposed to vote for them are dumb herd animals that can be driven in any direction the times require.

N T
N T
18 days ago

“may have turned the tide?”
Do you really think anyone voted on these grounds?

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
17 days ago

In some ways im glad the Dems are in power.the US is headed to a terrible decline and its fitting that it happens on their watch.

James Stangl
James Stangl
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

“Apres nous, le deluge!”

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
17 days ago

“But if voters truly took the Democrats’ apocalyptic messaging seriously, then they would be obligated to do much more than vote. Wouldn’t election volunteers be justified in cheating to ensure Nazis don’t come to power?”
This is the most important line of this piece and I wish more people would focus on it. Imagine the pressure those (mostly liberal Democratic) volunteers and poll workers in Atlanta will face over the next month. Their party has spent a decade telling them the other side is literal Nazis and if they win the country will become a fascist dictatorship. If even 10% of them actually believe that, not acting on it would be immoral.
Here’s a clue for the GOP establishment. When someone tells you for years that they hate you, think your ideas are fascist, call you an enemy of the state, declare that you winning would end the country, and say they will defeat you “by any means necessary”… you should believe them and act accordingly.
Based on Democratic rhetoric alone, every Republican state in America should return to a single election day in which everyone comes in and shows their ID. It’s not about disenfranchising people. It’s about eliminating temptation from progressive registrars and the bureaucracies they oversee.

Emre S
Emre S
17 days ago

If you hear the people of most nations across the world from Europe, to Latin America, to Middle-East, to Asia, they will tell you how Americans manipulated their countries to favourable outcomes for America. Many Americans/Brits weren’t happy to hear this kind of talk in the past. Perhaps it’s time Americans tasted their own medicine now with the main opposition party declared illegitimate.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
18 days ago

Maybe a disarmament deal would be in order:
The Democrats agree to stop talking as if a Republican win would put democracy in peril. In return the Republicans promise to accept the result of elections and the integrity of the voting process (starting with the 2020 presidential election) and to stop running candidates who promise that next time they will ensure that the same voting result give a more pro-Republican outcome.

One could imagine further disarmament deals – for instance an end to gerrymandering (on both sides) in return for improved measures against voting fraud.

Last edited 18 days ago by Rasmus Fogh
James Sullivan
James Sullivan
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Democrats too have to stop their own “stolen election” whinging, going all the way back to the 2000 and 2004 elections. Stacey Abrams is perhaps the loudest current exemplar, but hardly the only one, and she modeled herself on Hillary’s refusal to accept 2016, which Trump then used as his model and greatly amplified.
Gerrymandering is tougher because it’s actually impossible to avoid doing it – when you look at the several Supreme Court cases of the 60s and 70s on this very issue, the Court essentially mandated the mess we have, where districts must have equal populations, and an amorphous “equal representation”. This already makes for screwed up district maps. The courts also punished states who didn’t racially draw districts under the accusation of racial diluting, but also punished states where concentrating by race was too blatant at the same time. So the whole system now is such that you simply cannot get away from concentrating racial and party zones, while severing others, and both sides are shameless about the process, and shameless about taking it to court when they can. Proportional representation plus rhetorically amorphous “equal representation” mandates make for an impossible puzzle.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  James Sullivan

Good point on Gerrymandering. News on Stacey Abrams had not made it across the Atlantic, but I can only agree with you there.
But as for Hilary, or Democrats in general, I Googled her concession speech and found these two paragraphs:

Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for and I’m sorry that we did not win this election

[…]

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.

The following is from Al Gore’s speech in 2000 (a photo finish election with rather more reason to complain)

Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time. I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.

[…]

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together

I cannot see anything here that is comparable to Trump. Did I miss something?

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes – not stuff that would necessarily make it into overseas news, but was pretty wild here. Hillary only sorta conceded in 2016, then within a week had pivoted to the claim (which she spent the next 4 years repeating, over and over and over), that Trump had stolen the election with Russian disinformation. This whinging was what led Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets here to start gradually turning the censorship screws, labeling stuff as “disinformation” etc. It only got really noticeable when Covid hit the scene, but censorship work did start in earnest after 2016 based on Hillary’s “stolen election” and “disinformation” claims.
The 2000 election disaster was a very wild ride and (ironically) led to the sorts of reforms that “stolen election” people now so bitterly decry. The Gore / Bush election was so close that it all came down to Florida, and even then down to a difference of just a few thousand votes, with a bunch of disputed absentee mail-in ballots too. For a solid month after the election, Gore demanded a particular county in Florida recount and recount and recount ballots (each recount turning up a few more votes for him), but worked to also prevent recounts in other parts of the state that might have benefitted Bush. After the Florida Supreme Court intervened for Gore (in violation of both Florida and Federal laws) on recounts – extending them beyond the statute of the laws, Bush took the case to the US Supreme Court, which finally shut down the recounts with Florida still a win for Bush. Only then did Gore concede. But for the next 4 years the Dems here claimed Florida was stolen, and chanted “Selected, not Elected” about Bush. As unhinged as Trump zealots have been recently 2020, many Dems were about 2000 (“BusHitler was a common slander at the time).
After that, most states made huge changes to the voting process – Florida’s paper ballot design, for instance taking a lot of blame for being confusing. 2004, though a much more solid win for Bush over Kerry, still had a lot of cranks claiming Bush had stolen Ohio, but it was more muted.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  James Sullivan

Thanks.

aaron david
aaron david
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The only thing that would enable disarmament, as you put it, would be to ensure election integrity. Right now, as long as we have mail in voting, same day registration, drop boxes for ballots, etc. there will be zero trust. You have to restore trust before you can disarm.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  aaron david

As an outsider I simply do not understand why the things you mention are such a big deal. Other countries have them. I will not deny that mail-in voting does open space for electoral manipulation, but that is also the case in the UK, and here it is simply not seen as a big problem – by either side. The impression is that both sides accept it is not going to make a major difference.
The impression you get (MSM as usual), is that there is no evidence that these things are a real problem. That leaves the impression that the complaints are either part of a deliberate vote suppression strategy (together with aggressive electoral roll purges, laws against giving food and drink to voter queues, gerrymandering etc.). Or that Republicans for some reason cannot accept that there could possibly be that many legitimate Democrat voters in the US.

Since one reason I am on this web site is to hear some different voices, I would actually love hearing from you what is the evidence that these things cause real problems (apart form making it too easy for legitimate non-republican voters to vote).

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

US election fraud history is fun. There’s always both more and less about it than people claim, but sometimes it’s so blatant as to be undeniable, and there have been some nationally famous large cases of it within living memory. And *both* parties have been guilty of it in different times and places. Chicago famously in 1960 refused to release its returns until the entire rest of the State of Illinois, and then turned up blatantly cooked results, giving the national election to Kennedy. New York City used to be infamous for dead people voting, and parts of New Jersey still are. Those are, of course, Democratic strongholds. But I’ve had friends in politics who have told me of Republican dirty tricks too – in one case slipping laxatives to a poll monitor, then ballot-stuffing while the monitor was indisposed (the FBI eventually got to that enclave). Another friend told me of outright vote purchasing in township-level “voting”.
Recently New York City tried to make it legal for non-citizens to vote (that was so blatant that the US Supreme Court quashed it quickly).
A friend, a couple of years ago, had to file a provisional ballot on election day because, when she went to vote, was told someone else had already voted in her name by absentee ballot.
How to fix it all? Don’t know, but the dirty tricks have been going on here for a long time, and it’s deeply embedded in local machine politics.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  James Sullivan

Now *that* I can believe. It is less clear that “mail in voting, same day registration, drop boxes for ballots” are important avenues for fraud, or that curtailing them will make the system significantly more honest, but, OK, a background of widespread historical shenanigans is not a good start for creating trust in the system, let alone in the good faith of people making procedural changes. And I’d take for granted that Republican dirty tricks (like excessive voter roll purging) get a lot more exposure in the Guardian than whatever the Democrats are up to.

Again, thanks.

Last edited 17 days ago by Rasmus Fogh
aaron david
aaron david
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you start with the fact that many of the deep blue voter precincts have not purged the vote rolls, make enrolling unchecked (such as my state of Oregon), keep methods of voting that have been found internationally illegal (even Russia and Brazil do not allow remote voting), a media class that is 90% lopsided, a political party that lied 100% of the time (Russiagate, pis* hookers, Hunter Bidens laptop, and so on), allow undated ballots, voting machine failures in red precincts, etc. etc., then distrust is already high.
No. You need to establish trust, and it needs to be done around voting rights and freedom of speech, as both are constitutionally guaranteed. Several states have tightened up the provisions I mention, and turnout has been both higher and has greater trust.
None of which is to say that there couldn’t be more blue voters than red, but, to take the 2020 election as an example, shutting down polling stations in six precincts simultaneously and having enough votes to push a losing candidate over the finish line, shut out poll watchers from blue districts a la Minneapolis, papering over the windows, along declaring a sewer line broke as a reason for this when it was later found not to have, and you have destroyed trust. Combine that with failed election process audits such as in Arizona and refusal to actually look into questions of election integrity, and it is little wonder that you have lost the trust of half the country.
The United States has always been a low trust country, and so we need to work extra hard in areas that concern everyone. Voting is the sharp point of those concerns. When trust is lost, everything else follows with it.

joe hardy
joe hardy
16 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Not a bad idea on paper. In reality, Americans have been in a fighting mood for a while now. I see no fig leaves of peace in the near future.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
17 days ago

Shouldn’t it always have seemed just far-fetched that rah-rah Republicans would seek the entire overthrow of democratic elections? They might be upset about the Presidential outcomes (2020, 2024) but beyond that what’s the plan: to let Trump, once back in power, appoint all the Senators & Representatives & state Governors and state legislators, mayors & city councilmembers? The flag-wavers are going to do that?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
16 days ago

A more realistic plan would be
to give states full control over how presidential selectors are chosen, how voter rolls are policed, and how (and when) to deal with accusations of electoral fraud. The Republicans control more states. to replace large parts of the administration with presidential appointees, that are loyal and obedient to the person of the president. to make the president immune to the judiciary.All these things have been proposed, to various degrees. The result would be much more unfettered power in the hands of the president – at which point it would be clear to all republicans that it would be a disaster for the natiobn if ever a democrat were to get access to that power, and the good of the nation would demand keeping them out by fair means or foul.

Does that really sound so far-fetched?

Jim Denham
Jim Denham
17 days ago

Do some of you people doubt that Trump and his supporters are fascists?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

I don’t believe they’re fascists. I believe Trump is an idiot and he seems to have a devoted band of cultish followers, however this election should be the end of him. People voted for him on an anti establishment ticket as they were sick of the status quo, but he’s proved himself wholly incapable of doing anything with those votes other than mouth off on Twitter. The Republicans should have won these elections with a landslide due to a struggling economy and deeply unpopular sitting President, the fact they haven’t is largely down to the extremely poor Trump baked candidates that they have put before the electorate

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

It depends on whether you actually understand the definition of fascism, or just drop the term as an expletive hurled at your enemies. The definition of fascism is the welding of totalitarian government power with corporate power, and by that definition, the Left and the Dems (plus Lincoln Project Republicans) are the real fascists. Look at how they control media narratives. They send the FBI to Facebook and tell them that Russia is going to put out garbage on Hunter Biden, and then that story is suppressed, and the election (based upon polling data) is thrown to Biden in 2020. Look at the uncovered emails showing how the government has pressured censorship on the problematic left-wing advocated pandemic strategy (including ineffective vax mandates and lockdowns and masks and school closures) continued because the media was not allowed to reveal the data showing how unconventional and destructive these policies were. Look at the move by the government to pressure the media to boycott any explication of viewpoints around the proven irregularities in the 2020 election (statistical violations of law of central tendency, cell phone GPS data showing ballot trafficking, video evidence of ballot box stuffing, unconstitutional violations of state legislature set guidelines for how to count votes, loss of chain of custody on many more ballots than margins of victory, inability to reconcile official vote totals with ballot counts months after the election, etc.).
Where is the equivalent kind of coordinated state-corporate corruption and bullying when Trump was President? The answer: there was none.
So the idea that Ultra MAGA Republicans are the threat to democracy and “semi-fascist” is completely devoid of evidentiary backing. The truth is that these statements constitution transference/projection by the Establishment in the grossest form.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Denham

Please define ‘fascist’. It seems to mean different things to different people lately.

Ari Rete
Ari Rete
16 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I already did:
The definition of fascism is the welding of totalitarian government power with corporate power