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Old 02-15-2020, 05:39 PM
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Is Trump the closest we've come to losing our democratic government


Prompted by this article in Salon magazine: "Can we stop tiptoeing around the fact that Trump is behaving like a dictator?"

After our independence, and after we officially became the country it is now, has any other president acted so boldly like a king and caused such division in our citizenry?

I don't ask this as a casual swipe at Trump. I'm asking a real factual question. I've not been that political in the past and there's a lot about the far past politics that I'm just not up on.
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Old 02-15-2020, 05:50 PM
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Nixon.

CMC fnord!
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:02 PM
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I was around for Nixon. I don’t remember the Republicans loosing their ability to think clearly for him. Sure, they were slow to come around to impeachment but didn’t Hogan buy airtime to announce he was voting to impeach?
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:08 PM
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Wasn't there a sedition law back in John Adams' time?

In any case, the United States started out much more as a, shall I say, less than democratic republic. In fact, conservatives today seem fond of reminding us of that fact. We've become more democratic over the past 200+ years, expanding the franchise to include people of color and women to varying degrees. If the US backslides on democracy, being less democratic wouldn't be without precedent, but it would certainly represent a major directional change along the authoritarian - liberal democratic political/philosophical axis.

In addition to the question being asked, a potentially more ominous question is whether or not there has ever been an executive who has asserted the privilege of executive power to this degree. And this is where we may be potentially drifting into uncharted waters. The finer points of this issue's historical background can be debated, but I suppose we could argue that, generally, in the past, the US was less democratic because society itself held a less democratic worldview, which changed over time.

What we're faced with in the Trump era is a political power vacuum in which a faction whose world view is not widely supported is asserting itself by violating political norms, not just of today but norms that have been held for decades or even centuries. The broad claims of executive power, combined with the Senate majority's abdication of its role as a check on executive power, are having profound impacts that will define the future of American democracy, with impacts ranging from an hyper-political and ideologically rigid judiciary to an executive that insists on supremacy under the constitution.

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Old 02-15-2020, 06:10 PM
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Well, if you go by executive orders, he's about average for recent Presidents. All Presidents since Carter have issued on the order of thirty-something or forty-something executive orders per year. Trump is sitting at 45.8. All the Presidents from Ike to Carter were between sixty and eighty executive orders per year. And from Teddy Roosevelt through Truman they were all in triple digits. So no, unless you have some other statistic in mind, he doesn't seem to be overachieving on the dictator front.

cite
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:12 PM
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I'd argue that people really don't seem to understand exactly what Nixon did.
One political party choosing both, viable, parties candidates would seem to be the definition of 'losing our democratic government'.

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Old 02-15-2020, 06:25 PM
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Well, if you go by executive orders, . . .
Which nobody is, other than you.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:44 PM
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Which nobody is, other than you.
Okay, so suggest some other objective metric.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:56 PM
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Okay, so suggest some other objective metric.
How about incidents of Contempt of Congress (Ignoring congressional subpoenas)?
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:21 PM
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Okay, so suggest some other objective metric.
The problem with your metric is that executive orders are perfectly fine and appropriate when applied to areas under the purview of the executive branch. They become problematic when they are used to effectively overturn legislation or judicial decisions - attempting to expand executive power beyond its constitutional limits.
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:51 PM
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How about incidents of Contempt of Congress (Ignoring congressional subpoenas)?
Sounds good. Got data?
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:05 PM
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Well, if you go by executive orders, he's about average for recent Presidents. All Presidents since Carter have issued on the order of thirty-something or forty-something executive orders per year. Trump is sitting at 45.8. All the Presidents from Ike to Carter were between sixty and eighty executive orders per year. And from Teddy Roosevelt through Truman they were all in triple digits. So no, unless you have some other statistic in mind, he doesn't seem to be overachieving on the dictator front.

cite
Wow.

Yeah, I can see that Carter and Trump are about the same. [insert old style roll eyes]
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:45 PM
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We ain't seen nothin' yet. We've proved that we can't/won't impeach him, so for the next year, he can do whatever he wants. Including, I suppose, rig the next election, or cancel it. I don't think Trump has it in him go that far, but little by little, recent presidents have been paving the road for somebody who will. It wasn't Trump who delivered Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:52 PM
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In a serious answer to your question, Lucas Jackson, yes. I think we're in more trouble than we've ever been since the Civil War.

Nixon was bad. But during Nixon, the country agreed on facts and they knew how to recognize them when they were presented.

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed on constitutional norms. They understood that interfering to rig elections was the work of an unfit executive, and they understood that impeachment was the constitutional remedy to remove an unfit executive. They agreed that soliciting any interference in our elections, including and especially foreign interference, was the pinnacle of unfit behavior. In Nixon's day, what Trump and his henchmen are doing would have appalled Republicans. They would not only have removed him, I believe they would have run him out of the country.

We have never seen an attorney general so corrupt that he actively interfered with the judicial process to try for particular outcomes in active criminal cases. Not once, not ever. Nixon's AG, John Mitchell, did try to weaponize the DOJ/FBI to persecute Nixon's enemies as William Barr is also doing for Trump, but even Mitchell didn't attempt to reach into active criminal matters and bend them to an outcome as bidden by the executive. Mitchell did time for his crimes, it should be noted.

The rule of law is the very foundation for our government, the notion that all persons are created equal under the law and must receive like protections and punishments. If Trump successfully breaks it, we may not recover from that.

Foreign interests, Republicans in Congress and corporate oligarchs all have their own reasons for wanting to help Trump succeed. Although they are motivated by different agendas, they are working together for the same outcome of destroying our democracy as we have lived under it for nearly 2 and a half centuries. We have never seen these diverse factions embrace bald propaganda in order to achieve their objectives. We're far past the point of spin. We're in an era of pure untruth -- and nearly half the country believes and accepts it without question.

When those at the top live by a "justice" that does not apply to the rest of us, when our representatives in Congress work hard for special interests and ignore the wishes of their constituents, then yes. We are in deep trouble, and we are no longer a functioning democracy. This is the time to resist in every way you can.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:54 PM
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We ain't seen nothin' yet. We've proved that we can't/won't impeach him, so for the next year, he can do whatever he wants. Including, I suppose, rig the next election, or cancel it. I don't think Trump has it in him go that far, but little by little, recent presidents have been paving the road for somebody who will. It wasn't Trump who delivered Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.
Agree wholeheartedly with this. Much of the Trump agenda is the furtherance of the GWB mess. Even the same players are hiding under all the same rocks. How they loved filling the vacuum that is Trump.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:31 PM
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We ain't seen nothin' yet. We've proved that we can't/won't impeach him, so for the next year, he can do whatever he wants. Including, I suppose, rig the next election, or cancel it. I don't think Trump has it in him go that far, but little by little, recent presidents have been paving the road for somebody who will. It wasn't Trump who delivered Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.
Oh, good, the cancel the election boogeyman. Who's the last president that people didn't get suggest would cancel the election, George Bush (41)?
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:42 PM
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McConnell started us down this path - Trump is just an idiot who would be king and thinks he is.

It's McConnell that prevents and blocks and creates a dysfunctional gov't.

If it were'nt for McConnell - trump would be held in check as he rightly should be.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:55 PM
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McConnell certainly shoulders much of the blame, but he didn't dismantle the State Department. Didn't weaponize/politicize DHS or attempt to overtake military funding for his own political purposes. He didn't scapegoat immigrants/refugees. Didn't put kids in cages. Didn't alienate all our allies.

Don't get me wrong. I loathe McConnell and the sooner he's gone, the better. He's very much onboard with the former GWB agenda and did his part by politicizing the courts and denying Obama his SCOTUS pick among many other things. That Oleg Deripaska-funded 200 million dollar aluminum plant in Kentucky should be heavily scrutinized. The activities of McConnell's wife Elaine Chao's family and China should be deeply investigated. McConnell is as corrupt as they come. But he's only one piece of the whole corruption puzzle. There are a scary number of players in this nightmare.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:04 PM
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Right - my point about McConnell is that without him, Trump would not be so 'successful' at his games.

Trump is just doing exactly what we knew Trump would do - ignore all sense of decorum, and run the country like a mob boss - but all of those things would be held in check if both houses of Congress would/could do the job - and McConnell ensures they wont.

But Trump is only 1 piece - we don't "lose democracy" until the other 2 pieces fall lockstep with the would be king - and it's McConnell that is causing that part.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:08 PM
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Right - my point about McConnell is that without him, Trump would not be so 'successful' at his games.

Trump is just doing exactly what we knew Trump would do - ignore all sense of decorum, and run the country like a mob boss - but all of those things would be held in check if both houses of Congress would/could do the job - and McConnell ensures they wont.

But Trump is only 1 piece - we don't "lose democracy" until the other 2 pieces fall lockstep with the would be king - and it's McConnell that is causing that part.
No disagreement from me on this. It's also the piece that normalizes the outrageous abuses. I think lots of people in the country think, "Well, it can't be that bad, or else Congress would do something about it." It will be too late by the time they work it out.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:30 PM
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In a serious answer to your question, Lucas Jackson, yes. I think we're in more trouble than we've ever been since the Civil War....

... The rule of law is the very foundation for our government, the notion that all persons are created equal under the law and must receive like protections and punishments. If Trump successfully breaks it, we may not recover from that.
Thanks for your input.


In other news, Trump is now essentially referring to himself as a king:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/slate.c...mself-king.amp

Right on cue.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:20 PM
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Well, if you go by executive orders, he's about average for recent Presidents.
A comment came to mind when I read this, but ...

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Wow.
... I was Ninja'ed.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:34 PM
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Black people in America have lived under a dictatorship for most of their time here. Slavery, then Jim Crow. Even after those things they had to do with police brutality and disenfranchisement.

Also we had laws against free speech in WW1, people were getting very long prison sentences for speaking out against the war.
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:36 AM
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In other news, Trump is now essentially referring to himself as a king:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/slate.c...mself-king.amp
Have you a link that's HTML and not AMP? No need giving Google the entire internet yet.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:26 AM
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Here is the content of both Trump tweets on the subject:
“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down. A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the....."
".....biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” Peter Baker@nytimes
The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!"

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Old 02-16-2020, 08:41 AM
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Right - my point about McConnell is that without him, Trump would not be so 'successful' at his games.

Trump is just doing exactly what we knew Trump would do - ignore all sense of decorum, and run the country like a mob boss - but all of those things would be held in check if both houses of Congress would/could do the job - and McConnell ensures they wont.

But Trump is only 1 piece - we don't "lose democracy" until the other 2 pieces fall lockstep with the would be king - and it's McConnell that is causing that part.
Second what Aspenglow said (Aspenglow's summary was pretty accurate,too).

It's the gradual erosion of the separation of powers that constitutes the current crisis, and it's hard to think of a time in which the legislative has encouraged the president to abuse and expand his powers and privileges the way we've witnessed these last few years. The way the Constitution was designed, the powers essentially competed with each other - that's the fundamental assumption that makes separation of powers function successfully or at least function as the Framers envisioned.

McConnell and the GOP had a 2-year head start on Pelosi's House, which can only slow down the machine at this point. Meanwhile, Trump and McConnell are rapidly transforming the federal judiciary, filling vacancies with ideologues who are long on right wing dogma and quite short on qualifications to be jurists. It's the judiciary that is the linchpin of the conservative strategy.

A combination of a legislative that forgives transgressions of executive power is signaling that there are absolutely no consequences for anything he chooses to do. And over time, an ideologically-driven judiciary sanctions it all under the cloak of judicial impartiality and the rule of law. That's how self-governance unravels.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:58 AM
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Have you a link that's HTML and not AMP? No need giving Google the entire internet yet.
Here ya go
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:49 PM
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Lincoln and FDR come to mind.

But they arent controversial enough and everybody likes them so it's ok
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:57 PM
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I’ll admit I’m not as knowledgeable about Lincoln as I could be. Was he a proven liar, did he illegally silence his accusers and did he abuse executive power?
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:03 PM
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I’ll admit I’m not as knowledgeable about Lincoln as I could be. Was he a proven liar, did he illegally silence his accusers and did he abuse executive power?
Habeas Corpus Suspension Act (1863)
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The Habeas Corpus Suspension, 12 Stat. 755 (1863), entitled An Act relating to Habeas Corpus, and regulating Judicial Proceedings in Certain Cases, was an Act of Congress that authorized the president of the United States to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in response to the American Civil War and provided for the release of political prisoners. It began in the House of Representatives as an indemnity bill, introduced on December 5, 1862, releasing the president and his subordinates from any liability for having suspended habeas corpus without congressional approval.[1] The Senate amended the House's bill,[2] and the compromise reported out of the conference committee altered it to qualify the indemnity and to suspend habeas corpus on Congress's own authority.[3] Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on March 3, 1863, and suspended habeas corpus under the authority it granted him six months later. The suspension was partially lifted with the issuance of Proclamation 148 by Andrew Johnson,[4] and the Act became inoperative with the end of the Civil War.
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:36 PM
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rig the next election, or cancel it.
My personal opinion is that if Trump tried to cancel the next election he would be impeached so fast it would make your head swim. And the Senate would ratify he impeachment the next day.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:10 AM
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My personal opinion is that if Trump tried to cancel the next election he would be impeached so fast it would make your head swim. And the Senate would ratify he impeachment the next day.
If he fears his treasons will be exposed, expect declarations of national emergency and martial law. Enemies of the state aka Democrats will be detained "for their own safety" so no further impeachment(s) will be possible. Approved candidates not in detention will adorn simplified single-choice ballots which, being cast, will be examined for irregularities like failing to vote for the approved candidates. The GOP will win with a 99%+ margin!

Sure, something like an election will occur, just as something like a trial happened. Please convince me I'm overly pessimistic. Do so before we're incarcerated.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:17 AM
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... has any other president acted so boldly like a king and caused such division in our citizenry?
Extraordinary times and circumstances were in play but Abe Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and declared martial law in Kentucky.
And his election platform sparked a civil war. So that was a degree of division a just a tad above what you are seeing now within the body politic.

and I'll defer to running coache's cite.

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Old 02-18-2020, 01:06 AM
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My personal opinion is that if Trump tried to cancel the next election he would be impeached so fast it would make your head swim. And the Senate would ratify he impeachment the next day.
"If Trump does (fill in the blank) he will be impeached so fast your head will swim"-How many times have we heard this or somethin damn close to it over the last three years?
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:21 AM
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As we get closer to the election and the numbers don't look good for Donald, I expect him to float a trial balloon or two. And after not lifting a finger to prevent it, I fully expect Republicans to raise a stink should there be even the slightest allegations of election chicanery. There should be no doubt left in anyone's mind by now that the 21st century GOP believes in power more than it believes in democracy. And that has to be a little worrisome for all of us.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:18 AM
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They agreed that soliciting any interference in our elections, including and especially foreign interference, was the pinnacle of unfit behavior.
That's the part I can't quite wrap my head around. I keep thinking that had the Russians tried to interfere in our elections and got caught in say.. 1965, that would have been considered an act of war, and would have made the Cuban Missile Crisis look like a mild disagreement.

But now, we have it happening, and we have the party in power shrugging their shoulders and going "Meh." and even more baffling, it's the self-identified party of "American" values, patriotism, home, hearth and all that stuff. The very party that *should* be absolutely losing their shit about it. What's even more baffling is that the Republican base- the rural, hyper-conservative (reactionary even?) super-traditional sorts seem to be fine with it. Or if they're not fine with it, it's because they've been completely gulled by "fake news" or something along those lines.

I think that last part is the *real* threat to democracy in the US; the polarization of the news media. We can't go around only reading Fox News or Daily Kos in a vacuum; the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But millions of people do just that every day; they read their own propaganda outlets and take it as God's own truth.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:32 AM
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That's the part I can't quite wrap my head around. I keep thinking that had the Russians tried to interfere in our elections and got caught in say.. 1965, that would have been considered an act of war, and would have made the Cuban Missile Crisis look like a mild disagreement.

But now, we have it happening, and we have the party in power shrugging their shoulders and going "Meh." and even more baffling, it's the self-identified party of "American" values, patriotism, home, hearth and all that stuff. The very party that *should* be absolutely losing their shit about it. What's even more baffling is that the Republican base- the rural, hyper-conservative (reactionary even?) super-traditional sorts seem to be fine with it. Or if they're not fine with it, it's because they've been completely gulled by "fake news" or something along those lines.

I think that last part is the *real* threat to democracy in the US; the polarization of the news media. We can't go around only reading Fox News or Daily Kos in a vacuum; the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But millions of people do just that every day; they read their own propaganda outlets and take it as God's own truth.
Republicans aren't going 'Meh'. Trump was actively involved in getting Russian help.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:35 AM
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The closest was the Civil War. In terms of modern times, however, this is the closest. The shit pulled by Bush Jr. and even Nixon isn't even close. To use a sports analogy, what Bush did was like what the Astros did with their sign stealing or what the Patriots did in deflategate. What Trump is doing is more like bribing the commissioner of the league and the officials so that his team starts with two extra runs or up a touchdown at the beginning of the game, or that his side gets four strikes rather than three. The difference between Trump and Nixon is that Trump is succeeding where Nixon failed. So yes, this is the closest we've come in modern times.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:49 AM
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"If Trump does (fill in the blank) he will be impeached so fast your head will swim"-How many times have we heard this or somethin damn close to it over the last three years?
Yabbut, Susan Collins will likely be concerned...
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:04 AM
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Yabbut, Susan Collins will likely be concerned...
Sen. Collins forgets that she's a Senator from Maine and not a Senator from a Stephen King novel...
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:06 AM
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"If Trump does (fill in the blank) he will be impeached so fast your head will swim"-How many times have we heard this or somethin damn close to it over the last three years?
At a rough guess, probably close to the same number of times it has been suggested that Trump will cancel the elections.

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Old 02-18-2020, 09:12 AM
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Trump is too chickenshit to cancel elections or declare martial law. If nothing else a dictator needs an organization that truly backs his policies (not just yes-men), and at most Trump has Mitch McConnell. He's not even a Huey Long much less an Adolph Hitler.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by asahi View Post
Wasn't there a sedition law back in John Adams' time?

In any case, the United States started out much more as a, shall I say, less than democratic republic. In fact, conservatives today seem fond of reminding us of that fact. We've become more democratic over the past 200+ years, expanding the franchise to include people of color and women to varying degrees. If the US backslides on democracy, being less democratic wouldn't be without precedent, but it would certainly represent a major directional change along the authoritarian - liberal democratic political/philosophical axis.
This is an interesting point, but here is the thing; the current risk is not that the USA will be less democratic (although that is an incresing problem) but that it won't be a REPUBLIC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumpy
Trump is too chickenshit to cancel elections or declare martial law.
This is true, but it's not really the problem. Countries don't lose their democracy or republicanism because of one person. They lose those things because a big portion of the population doesn't care about them anymore, and the USA now has a shockingly large portion of its population who are indifferent to whether it remains a democratic republic. That's what kills a constitution.

The USA is not going to abandon the rule of law in 2020; the threat is that it's going to be firmly placed on that path, and that Trump is the leader, sort of, in sending it that way. It's not so much that HE will do it as that Trumpism encouraged it. Georgia pretty much openly threw its gubernatorial election in 2018, and election fixing is becoming more accepted. The William Barr / DOJ thing is the first really open shot at implementing dictatorship at the federal level; hijinks are nothing new, but this is a test case in being genuinely open about the federal government simply being a tool of the ruling party and not an apparatus of a republic. Inviting a foreign adversary to help fix elections is, of course, totally unprecedented.
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  #44  
Old 02-18-2020, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
Oh, good, the cancel the election boogeyman. Who's the last president that people didn't get suggest would cancel the election, George Bush (41)?
In such cases, did the president in question or his supporters wonder out loud about the possibility?

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/...n-2020-1374589

Quote:
In 2016, Donald Trump waffled over whether he would accept the election results if he lost.

Since then, Trump has repeatedly joked about staying in office beyond the two terms the Constitution allows. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporter, has suggested Trump should get two years tacked on to his first term as “pay back” for the Mueller investigation. The president’s own former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has warned that “there will never be a peaceful transition of power” should Trump fail in his reelection bid.
https://time.com/4560707/donald-trum...n-loss-rigged/

Quote:
First, he has said the nation could face a messy fight around the election results themselves. Trump declined to promise at the final presidential debate that he would accept the election results regardless of outcome. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” he said. The following day at a rally in Ohio, he elaborated: “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win,” he said.
https://theintercept.com/2019/03/06/...eachment-2020/

Quote:
Trump has been laying the groundwork for 2020. Think about it: Why would a president who has violated a number of U.S. laws, traditions, and norms — from obstructing justice, to defying the emoluments clause, to threatening the free press, to inciting violence — show any deference to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution?
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/...ons-chaos.html

Quote:
Trump’s certainty that he simply cannot lose could have a real impact on this year’s election. Since assuming office in January 2017, Trump has made at least 27 references to staying in office beyond the constitutional limit of two terms. He often follows up with a remark indicating he is “joking,” “kidding,” or saying it to drive the “fake” news media “crazy.” Even if Trump thinks that he’s only “joking,” the comments fit a broader pattern that raises the prospect that Trump may not leave office quietly in the event he’s on the losing end of a very close election. And unfortunately this possibility is only one of a number of potential election meltdowns we may face in November.
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  #45  
Old 02-18-2020, 09:36 AM
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What about when Truman fired MacArthur? There were people very unhappy with that decision and even some who wanted Truman impeached. It's possible there could have been a military coup.
  #46  
Old 02-18-2020, 09:55 AM
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A military coup was never in the cards, though. A lot of Republicans and ordinary citizens were furious but no one in the armed services was talking about a coup.
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  #47  
Old 02-18-2020, 09:56 AM
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True, but I'd say that it was about as close we've come to losing our democratic government as the present situation.
  #48  
Old 02-18-2020, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
At a rough guess, probably close to the same number of times it has been suggested that Trump will cancel the elections.

Regards,
Shodan
Trump doesn't need to cancel the elections. The Republicans have been systematically removing protections against election tampering and have blocked efforts to put new protections in place, including three election security bills that would require campaigns to notify the FBI if offered help by foreign powers and that would ban voting machines from being connected to the internet. Nothing to see here...
  #49  
Old 02-18-2020, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
Trump doesn't need to cancel the elections.
Don't tell me - tell the Dopers who are using Chicken Little as their spirit animal.

Regards,
Shodan
  #50  
Old 02-18-2020, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Don't tell me - tell the Dopers who are using Chicken Little as their spirit animal.

Regards,
Shodan
"He's not going to cancel the elections - he's just going to use the resources of a foreign power to completely undermine the democratic process and the rule of law, rendering the elections meaningless."

Thanks, Shodan - that makes me feel much better.
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