Yes, we still have an election. But barring a landslide victory for either party, it will be the beginning and not the end of the raw struggle for power in a fast-collapsing republic. In a close race, Trump will never concede, and if he is somehow forced to, he will mount a campaign from the outside to delegitimize the incoming president, backed by street-gangs and propaganda outfits.
The venerated Andrew Sullivan makes a lot of good points in this article, and seems to run a balanced take between both extremes, “pointing out the illiberalism on both sides,” as he says. However, this argument is something I see repeated a lot from people on the Left: that Trump is literally going to hijack the electoral process, and enshrine himself as a king. The notion is farcical. Why? Because I saw all the exact same arguments during the Obama years from people on the Right.
A big part of the continued problem with increasing polarity in our politics is because both sides are so entrenched in process that they can get away with drifting to the extremes.
Look at how much trouble there is in trying to pass obviously-needed legislation today. There are no policies being enacted. Except for the ACA, I can’t think of a single piece of significant policy law that’s been passed for 12 years. I’m sure people could pile on and tell me all the things I’ve missed, but the fact that I can’t think of them is problem enough. I watch this space more than most, and nothing else is coming to mind. And note that, when I say “policy,” I mean policy that helps people, and not corporations. All that’s been happening is that Congress is ramming through spending bills designed to enrich their campaign donors in the name of “saving” the economy. It’s deleterious and diabolical.
I can’t understand how someone can look at our log-jammed political process, our byzantine structure of state-level election laws, and the legacy institutions of the DNC and RNC, with their crazy parliamentary procedures, and think that any one person — no matter how ill-intentioned and popular — could sweep all that away in some move designed to create the second coming the Third Reich. Our system just doesn’t allow for it. There are too many checks and balances. There is too much paperwork already in place.
If my argument doesn’t persuade you, think of it this way: The people in the highest echelons of our government want to be “next.” They absolutely will not abide someone corrupting the well-worn-if-hopelessly-complex process to get there, including the other Republicans, waiting in the wings for their shot. So none of this talk is realistic, and I can’t consider it anything other than — to use the technical term — FUD. And both sides are doing it.
If someone were actually trying to understand “the illiberalism on both sides,” they would recognize this too.