In “1984” Winston Smith makes the observation that “the best books are the ones that tell you what you already know.” He says that when he’s allowed to read the truth about the society he lives in and it confirms his worst suspicions. The following article by Robert Kagan, columnist for the Washington Post confirms mine. Trump is not out of the picture, he’s just benched for a while. But make no mistake, we are looking at a situation in 2024 where Joe Biden may find himself in the same position as Andrew Jackson during the nullification crisis or Abraham Lincoln after the secession of the south: as Kagan puts it, “navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have,” in the event he has to call out the National Guard to quell another insurrection, worse than January 6.

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

We are looking at a possible fascist takeover, because Donald Trump is the kind of charismatic authoritarian that gets put into office in a fascist coup. He has been consistently underestimated and he also consistently under polls. There is great power in what he has to bring to politics, which is that he is the Grievance Candidate, much as Hitler was. Nobody loves him for his great ideas or incredible competence. They love him because he hates the same people they do. Trump knows how to tap into the wells of fear and rage in this country. That’s his “gift.” And it was enough to put him in the White House once and it may be enough to help him, along with a crippled and absentee GOP, destroy democracy outright. I don’t think that’s a hyperbolic claim. I think it’s a distinct possibility.

The political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015. They underestimated the extent of his popularity and the strength of his hold on his followers; they underestimated his ability to take control of the Republican Party; and then they underestimated how far he was willing to go to retain power. The fact that he failed to overturn the 2020 election has reassured many that the American system remains secure, though it easily could have gone the other way — if Biden had not been safely ahead in all four states where the vote was close; if Trump had been more competent and more in control of the decision-makers in his administration, Congress and the states. As it was, Trump came close to bringing off a coup earlier this year. All that prevented it was a handful of state officials with notable courage and integrity, and the reluctance of two attorneys general and a vice president to obey orders they deemed inappropriate.

These were not the checks and balances the Framers had in mind when they designed the Constitution, of course, but Trump has exposed the inadequacy of those protections. The Founders did not foresee the Trump phenomenon, in part because they did not foresee national parties. They anticipated the threat of a demagogue, but not of a national cult of personality. They assumed that the new republic’s vast expanse and the historic divisions among the 13 fiercely independent states would pose insuperable barriers to national movements based on party or personality. “Petty” demagogues might sway their own states, where they were known and had influence, but not the whole nation with its diverse populations and divergent interests.

Such checks and balances as the Framers put in place, therefore, depended on the separation of the three branches of government, each of which, they believed, would zealously guard its own power and prerogatives. The Framers did not establish safeguards against the possibility that national-party solidarity would transcend state boundaries because they did not imagine such a thing was possible. Nor did they foresee that members of Congress, and perhaps members of the judicial branch, too, would refuse to check the power of a president from their own party.

Trump can possibly topple the government. He won’t do it alone. He will do it with a GOP that is either as actively anti-democratic  and power mad as he is, or merely complicit: the Nuremberg defense type of people, “just following orders.” We know Susan Collins will be very concerned, but whether she will do anything to stop a takeover of the government is debatable. The same can be said of Mitch McConnell and the rest of them.

Critics and supporters alike have consistently failed to recognize what a unique figure Trump is in American history. Because his followers share fundamentally conservative views, many see Trump as merely the continuation, and perhaps the logical culmination, of the Reagan Revolution. This is a mistake: Although most Trump supporters are or have become Republicans, they hold a set of beliefs that were not necessarily shared by all Republicans. Some Trump supporters are former Democrats and independents. In fact, the passions that animate the Trump movement are as old as the republic and have found a home in both parties at one time or another.  […]

Trump is different, which is one reason the political system has struggled to understand, much less contain, him. The American liberal worldview tends to search for material and economic explanations for everything, and no doubt a good number of Trump supporters have grounds to complain about their lot in life. But their bond with Trump has little to do with economics or other material concerns. They believe the U.S. government and society have been captured by socialists, minority groups and sexual deviants. They see the Republican Party establishment as corrupt and weak — “losers,” to use Trump’s word, unable to challenge the reigning liberal hegemony. They view Trump as strong and defiant, willing to take on the establishment, Democrats, RINOs, liberal media, antifa, the Squad, Big Tech and the “Mitch McConnell Republicans.” His charismatic leadership has given millions of Americans a feeling of purpose and empowerment, a new sense of identity. While Trump’s critics see him as too narcissistic to be any kind of leader, his supporters admire his unapologetic, militant selfishness. Unlike establishment Republicans, Trump speaks without embarrassment on behalf of an aggrieved segment of Americans, not exclusively White, who feel they have been taking it on the chin for too long. And that is all he needs to do.

There was a time when political analysts wondered what would happen when Trump failed to “deliver” for his constituents. But the most important thing Trump delivers is himself. His egomania is part of his appeal. In his professed victimization by the media and the “elites,” his followers see their own victimization. That is why attacks on Trump by the elites only strengthen his bond with his followers. That is why millions of Trump supporters have even been willing to risk death as part of their show of solidarity: When Trump’s enemies cited his mishandling of the pandemic to discredit him, their answer was to reject the pandemic. One Trump supporter didn’t go to the hospital after developing covid-19 symptoms because he didn’t want to contribute to the liberal case against Trump. “I’m not going to add to the numbers,” he told a reporter.

Because the Trump movement is less about policies than about Trump himself, it has undermined the normal role of American political parties, which is to absorb new political and ideological movements into the mainstream. [Willam Jennings] Bryan never became president, but some of his populist policies were adopted by both political parties. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters might not have wanted Biden for president, but having lost the nomination battle they could work on getting Biden to pursue their agenda. Liberal democracy requires acceptance of adverse electoral results, a willingness to countenance the temporary rule of those with whom we disagree. As historian Richard Hofstadter observed, it requires that people “endure error in the interest of social peace.” Part of that willingness stems from the belief that the democratic system makes it possible to work, even in opposition, to correct the ruling party’s errors and overreach. Movements based on ideas and policies can also quickly shift their allegiances. Today, the progressives’ flag-bearer might be Sanders, but tomorrow it could be Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or someone else.

For a movement built around a cult of personality, these adjustments are not possible. For Trump supporters, the “error” is that Trump was cheated out of reelection by what he has told them is an oppressive, communist, Democrat regime. While the defeat of a sitting president normally leads to a struggle to claim the party’s mantle, so far no Republican has been able to challenge Trump’s grip on Republican voters: not Sen. Josh Hawley, not Sen. Tom Cotton, not Tucker Carlson, not Gov. Ron DeSantis. It is still all about Trump. The fact that he is not in office means that the United States is “a territory controlled by enemy tribes,” writes one conservative intellectual. The government, as one Trump supporter put it, “is monopolized by a Regime that believes [Trump voters] are beneath representation, and will observe no limits to keep them [from] getting it.” If so, the intellectual posits, what choice do they have but to view the government as the enemy and to become “united and armed to take care of themselves as they think best”?

Remember the woman from Michigan, on January 6, who said — without a trace of irony — “We weren’t there to steal things or to break things, we were just there to overthrow the government.” That’s how Trump’s supporters see it, “L’etat c’est Trump.” He’s not a part of the regular government. He can’t do enough to tear down Mitch McConnell and go after his “enemies,” the “RINOS” defined as people who voted to impeach or convict him, and get even with them.

That’s the problem here and that’s why we’re in the trouble we’re in. We’re not looking at a normal change in the pendulum, as the power naturally shifts from one party to the next and the institution of government, of democracy, is larger than both parties, let alone any individual candidate. No. We’re not playing that game. Trump has decided to flip the board over and set fire to the table. He’s playing his own game. And the GOP is now at a place in its history where it is so collapsed and so without any moral fiber and substance that it’s not standing up for democracy either. It’s going along with Trump’s efforts to elect secretaries of state who are “concerned” about election integrity, translating as they’ll be happy to help him overturn the next one.

It would be foolish to imagine that the violence of Jan. 6 was an aberration that will not be repeated. Because Trump supporters see those events as a patriotic defense of the nation, there is every reason to expect more such episodes. Trump has returned to the explosive rhetoric of that day, insisting that he won in a “landslide,” that the “radical left Democrat communist party” stole the presidency in the “most corrupt, dishonest, and unfair election in the history of our country” and that they have to give it back. He has targeted for defeat those Republicans who voted for his impeachment — or criticized him for his role in the riot. Already, there have been threats to bomb polling sites, kidnap officials and attack state capitols. “You and your family will be killed very slowly,” the wife of Georgia’s top election official was texted earlier this year. Nor can one assume that the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers would again play a subordinate role when the next riot unfolds. Veterans who assaulted the Capitol told police officers that they had fought for their country before and were fighting for it again. Looking ahead to 2022 and 2024, Trump insists “there is no way they win elections without cheating. There’s no way.” So, if the results come in showing another Democratic victory, Trump’s supporters will know what to do. Just as “generations of patriots” gave “their sweat, their blood and even their very lives” to build America, Trump tells them, so today “we have no choice. We have to fight” to restore “our American birthright.”

This is a lengthy piece and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. We cannot be blindsided by what’s going on around us. Yes, it is comical that Trump’s grifting cronies are out there doing sham audits, but make no mistake, that undermines democracy. Just as a persistent drip of water can eventually erode a rock, the persistent tap tap tap of “stolen election” has had its corrosive effect and will continue to do so.

In the era of Trump we have lost faith in things that we never even used to think about much. Other candidates, when they lost an election, went on to congratulate the victor and prepare for the next go round when their party would be back in power. Not Trump. He’s not a part of the system, he wants to break the system. And he’s got plenty of people who are going along with him.

Maybe the democratic experiment is at an end. Maybe we’re not mature enough for democracy. Maybe the worst angels of our nature will prevail. All that can be said at this point is to keep both your eyes open and let’s hope that the sane people outnumber the crazies. Trump is as dangerous as he ever was and barring some issue of health and/or some complications legally from New York, he will be back and the 2024 election will be stone cold crazy.

Help keep the site running, consider supporting.


  1. Trump may not live until 2024 or be healthy enough to run. I think this is hyperbole. trump cult dies with him. and he is drowning already. his acolyte abbot is sinking in the polls with every cruel thing he does.

    • Baby Donnie or Iwanna will try to claim the mantle of the ‘one true successor’ and the Trumpettes will simply support one or the other in an attempt to perpetuate the myth

    • There are conservative pols who were taking notes, paying attention to the events on January 6th. Almost to a man these people are considerably more intelligent than former guy. I worry less about his kids than I do people like hawley, cotton, etc. Former guy’s kids did not fall far from the tree as is proven almost daily by those older sons of his. Ivanka just thinks she has a brain and the fact that her father’s stench makes her stink also is something she hasn’t quite realized yet. If she were intelligent, she would have distanced herself from daddy when she saw just how incompetent he was during 2020.

    • Your votes will mean little if states with republican legislatures/governors change the laws so they install their little toadies in election offices or if they decide to change their state laws so that when someone other than former guy, or whoever, gets the most votes, they send an alternate slate of electors to D.C. This is what is happening right now-republicans are changing the rules in their states so that your votes won’t matter.

      Getting rid of the electoral college would help some but even then, if they have their people in charge of elections in their states, it will make little difference how badly former guy or another republican lose-they will still be considered the winner in that state due to the machinations of republican legislatures.

      When the guardrails are gone and there is nothing standing in their way, elections will go the way the G.Q.P.’rs want rather than that “will of the people” thing that causes them so much trouble. Democrats lost sight of just how much they need representation at the state level and it might just cost them dearly/

  2. Back during the 2016 campaign I was still somewhat active on my FB account. During the summer I put up a post that provoked a fair amount of consternation from people in my hometown (which gave birth to a Congress Critter who’s a staunch and proud member of the Sedition Caucus) but one in particular still haunts me. There might have been times when she was madder at me but the viciousness in which my sister ripped into me left a wound which I’m not sure will ever heal. (We sometimes have ok chats once in a blue moon if we manage to avoid delving into current affairs) What was the post? I remembered the cold chills in the movie theater when I saw the movie Cabaret which was set in pre-WWII Germany. The two main characters have been befriended by an aristocrat (who it turns out was banging both of them!) who, like so many were dismissive of that upstart Hitler and the rising popularity he enjoyed with the masses of regular folk. People who owned/controlled the country (like “Max”) were SURE that it was a fad that would pass, that the masses would see the folly and more importantly the dark danger of the kind of country Hitler would create and if you just let things run their course folks would re-enter reality. That’s the theme of the infamous Beer Garten scene, when the boy suddenly begins to sing:

    Two things stood out to me then and still do. The old man with the disgusted look on his face as people are standing up and joining in with the singer, and the comment from Michael York’s character to their host as they are getting in the car to leave as the singing has continued. He posed a question – “Still think you can control them?” History gives us a tragic answer. So I thought in the summer of 2016, and still do that we were dangerously close to history repeating itself. Because then, as now many establishment people who could have and should have stomped out Hitler and didn’t because they underestimated his ability to connect with the masses wound up making the cowardly choice in the end to “go along to get along” – they started sucking up to him to maintain their own little domains of power and privilege. Sound familiar?

    As for your citing Kagan, there’s a point in there I again find myself wanting to address regarding the founders and their not having envisioned someone like Trump. I beg to differ. I know it’s fashionable in many circles including and especially on liberal blogs to note (correctly I might add) that the Electoral College had some basis in the preservation of slavery in the new American Republic. There’s no denying that fact as far as I’m concerned. However, even to the southerners there was another reason that was damned near universal. Our founders feared not only an Executive that was an agent of a foreign power, but someone that in the vernacular of the times would have been deemed a charlatan, but a CHARISMATIC demagogue who would successfully sell the political equivalent of snake oil to the masses. The thought of such a person holding the powers of the Presidency made their blood run cold. And the Electoral College was their solution.

    By not having direct election of the President and instead having people vote for Electors the founders believed that the Electors, who were conceived of as being men (men of course) of extraordinary sound judgement and stature would put the long term interests of the country and its stability first. That, in the case of some charlatan gaining enough popular support to win election would substitute their own judgement and instead choose a Chief Executive/President that would be faithful to the Constitution and the vision of of government they had set forth in it. Someone who wouldn’t try to become a King or dictator. Well, it turned out it wouldn’t take that long for Electors to simply become rubber stamps. There have been precious few “faithless Electors” in our history and we have in fact had some shitty candidates win the Presidency because of it. The best, most qualified person hasn’t always won.

    Bad as some of them have been, I maintain that no one has come close to Trump in being so unqualified, and manifestly unfit in every way to hold the highest office in the land. Trump is the embodiment of the type of person the founders wanted the EC to step in and prevent becoming President.

    So once again I find myself saying the founders DID envision the possibility of their worst nightmare, either a person beholden to a foreign power or someone like Trump (and it Trump’s case it’s BOTH) but their solution, the Electoral College failed to do what they specifically created it to do.

  3. Writing from UK. (1) We always assumed that the USA was a democracy but international organisations that make lists of these things put UK as “democracy” and USA as something like “near democracy”
    (2) I remember a visitor from US, was British, visiting us with his family. I was so impressed that his children knew all about Congress, the Senate, the separation of the three groups of government and of course The Constitution. I realise now that that was pretty thin stuff, Like hand on heart, looking dewy eyed at the flag.
    (3)The Constitution was a compromise between all the people trying to frame it. They weren’t wild about a democracy but something independent from George III.
    (4) I hope Biden provides the uneducated, religious red states with decent education and health so they have to think, “This isn’t too bad, will I lose it if I vote republican.”
    (5)I also hope that Biden makes sure that armed forces support democracy and that thy would be sent in to suppress an insurrection.
    (6) When I was a lot younger I remember saying that the UK should have a constitution like the US. A colleague said words to the effect, It hasn’t done them much good.
    (7) I used to think that the Electoral College ws a good idea, now I don’t.

    • Hello Charles, I’m a US citizen so here’s my reply to some of your points:

      1) In my middle school “civics” text book (maybe it was US history, it was the early 1970s) I remember seeing one of those democracy maps and the USA was the only country showing as a “full” democracy. The UK was considered a semi-democracy. Funny how it was the opposite of the international charts. I guess our own governments teach our kids what they want us to believe. Our history books on “Westward Expansion” also mostly left out a lot about the slaughter of the native peoples. ?

      2) That’s like most Americans actually, especially the ones wearing flag outfits and maga hats. It’s a rather small document and a quick read, but most Americans haven’t read it and even confuse the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence. The louder they are about their “rights” the greater chance they haven’t even read the Bill of Rights.

      4) Education & Healthcare are for the most part the responsibility of the individual states to administer, with the Federal government partially funding both. For example, new history text books for Texas schools fail to mention slavery much, instead framing it as a “business” practice of the time. Here in Illinois our text books are different than those in the south. That educational divide is a big problem and Republican-run state houses keep making it worse. Same is true for sex education, which is why southern states lead in teen pregnancy since they teach abstinence instead of prevention.

      Although the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is the only healthcare the government provides before you’re 65 (most get health insurance from their employer, if they’re employed), but some parts are handled by the state. This is especially true when it comes to expanding parts of Obamacare coverage, which most republican-led states (ie, the Maga states) haven’t done in an effort to ruin the Affordable Care Act, even if it ends up hurting the people of their state. Yet the people in those states keep voting for those that are hurting them. What resources those people lack in those Maga states is mostly due to their own state leaders and their Republican policies. Yet they keep voting them into office…

      5) This has recently been discussed here for not only how the military would have handled the riot were it to have gotten worse, but preparations should it happen again. I write this now feeling as if I’m a character in a bad distopian sci-fi novel. ?

      7) Congress has little taste in abolishing the EC, even though it doesn’t feel very democratic. If we had a popular vote for President we would NEVER have had a Trump presidency, nor a Bush presidency for that matter. ALL other elected positions use a popular vote, which makes the Electoral College a unicorn in american politics. It needs to go!

      Anyway, that’s how I see it from over here.
      The question I have for you is…. what’s the UKs asylum policy? ?

  4. Thank you so much for your detailed and thought out answer.
    The UK tries to stop all asylum seekers and refugees without passports from entering the UK. People from the middle east and far east pay people smugglers to get them to the UK. They cross the English Channel in rigid inflatables, sometimes hundreds in one boat. Our Home Secretary (Minister of the Interior in some countries) Priti Patel, tries to enforce the policy of exclusion and has criticised the Royal Lifeboat Association for rescuing migrants. Their answer is that they rescue anyone in distress, they cannot and do not pick and choose.
    I’m sure that others can flesh this out.

  5. Trump has nothing to share with fascism. Mussolini was the soon of a blacksmith and his family was very poor. He volunteered in First War and fought in the trenches. He was a follower of Keynes theories and he expanded state intervention in economy. He enacted many laws to defend blue collars and farmers. When he died he left his family very poor. Trump is a tycoon. He was born rich and for sure he is not a follower of Keynes. I think that Trump is similar to South America Caudillos. A new Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana or Fulgenzio Batista


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The maximum upload file size: 128 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here