Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Did Neocon Vermin Robert Kagan Call For The Assassination Of Donald Trump?

WaPo  |  This is the trajectory we are on now. Is descent into dictatorship inevitable? No. Nothing in history is inevitable. Unforeseen events change trajectories. Readers of this essay will no doubt list all the ways in which it is arguably too pessimistic and doesn’t take sufficient account of this or that alternative possibility. Maybe, despite everything, Trump won’t win. Maybe the coin flip will come up heads and we’ll all be safe. And maybe even if he does win, he won’t do any of the things he says he’s going to do. You may be comforted by this if you choose.

What is certain, however, is that the odds of the United States falling into dictatorship have grown considerably because so many of the obstacles to it have been cleared and only a few are left. If eight years ago it seemed literally inconceivable that a man like Trump could be elected, that obstacle was cleared in 2016. If it then seemed unimaginable that an American president would try to remain in office after losing an election, that obstacle was cleared in 2020. And if no one could believe that Trump, having tried and failed to invalidate the election and stop the counting of electoral college votes, would nevertheless reemerge as the unchallenged leader of the Republican Party and its nominee again in 2024, well, we are about to see that obstacle cleared as well. In just a few years, we have gone from being relatively secure in our democracy to being a few short steps, and a matter of months, away from the possibility of dictatorship.

Alexandra Petri: I’m starting to think Donald Trump is sounding like Hitler on purpose

Are we going to do anything about it? To shift metaphors, if we thought there was a 50 percent chance of an asteroid crashing into North America a year from now, would we be content to hope that it wouldn’t? Or would we be taking every conceivable measure to try to stop it, including many things that might not work but that, given the magnitude of the crisis, must be tried anyway?

Yes, I know that most people don’t think an asteroid is heading toward us and that’s part of the problem. But just as big a problem has been those who do see the risk but for a variety of reasons have not thought it necessary to make any sacrifices to prevent it. At each point along the way, our political leaders, and we as voters, have let opportunities to stop Trump pass on the assumption that he would eventually meet some obstacle he could not overcome. Republicans could have stopped Trump from winning the nomination in 2016, but they didn’t. The voters could have elected Hillary Clinton, but they didn’t. Republican senators could have voted to convict Trump in either of his impeachment trials, which might have made his run for president much more difficult, but they didn’t.

Throughout these years, an understandable if fatal psychology has been at work. At each stage, stopping Trump would have required extraordinary action by certain people, whether politicians or voters or donors, actions that did not align with their immediate interests or even merely their preferences. It would have been extraordinary for all the Republicans running against Trump in 2016 to decide to give up their hopes for the presidency and unite around one of them. Instead, they behaved normally, spending their time and money attacking each other, assuming that Trump was not their most serious challenge, or that someone else would bring him down, and thereby opened a clear path for Trump’s nomination. And they have, with just a few exceptions, done the same this election cycle. It would have been extraordinary had Mitch McConnell and many other Republican senators voted to convict a president of their own party. Instead, they assumed that after Jan. 6, 2021, Trump was finished and it was therefore safe not to convict him and thus avoid becoming pariahs among the vast throng of Trump supporters. In each instance, people believed they could go on pursuing their personal interests and ambitions as usual in the confidence that somewhere down the line, someone or something else, or simply fate, would stop him. Why should they be the ones to sacrifice their careers? Given the choice between a high-risk gamble and hoping for the best, people generally hope for the best. Given the choice between doing the dirty work yourself and letting others do it, people generally prefer the latter.

A paralyzing psychology of appeasement has also been at work. At each stage, the price of stopping Trump has risen higher and higher. In 2016, the price was forgoing a shot at the White House. Once Trump was elected, the price of opposition, or even the absence of obsequious loyalty, became the end of one’s political career, as Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Paul D. Ryan and many others discovered. By 2020, the price had risen again. As Mitt Romney recounts in McKay Coppins’s recent biography, Republican members of Congress contemplating voting for Trump’s impeachment and conviction feared for their physical safety and that of their families. There is no reason that fear should be any less today. But wait until Trump returns to power and the price of opposing him becomes persecution, the loss of property and possibly the loss of freedom. Will those who balked at resisting Trump when the risk was merely political oblivion suddenly discover their courage when the cost might be the ruin of oneself and one’s family?

We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

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