GOP Is Setting the Stage for a Possible Coup in 2024 While Dems Ignore Threat

The United States continues its reactionary response towards the 2020 uprisings of Black lives. Republican representatives have made greater efforts to redistricting, escalated draconian targeting reproductive rightsContinue to attack education, books, and other aspects of the book industry racism, slavery and white supremacy; LGBTQ issues; content depictingMiscarriages and hysterectomies are common.

Social media and a growing embrace of conspiracy theories fuel these right-wing efforts. The Democratic Party has not been able or willing to mount a progressive response, even though this may be predictable.

TruthoutAnthony DiMaggio, an associate professor of political sciences at Lehigh University, spoke to us about the infiltration and spread of fascism in contemporary American political and media landscapes. Rising Fascism in America: It Can Happen Here (Routledge; 2022).

Yoav Litvin – How relevant is your book in 2022? Didn’t Donald Trump lose in 2020?

Anthony DiMaggio: Trump learned from his failures by losing in 2020. Trump really didn’t focus heavily on the (fictitious) voter fraud issue until after the election, meaning there was only a couple of months for him to try and mobilize his coup. Not enough pressure could be built up in that time to compel state legislators and other officials to embrace his “Big Lie.” People like Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, and other officials certifying the election did not feel the sort of pressure from the base that state and national partisans are now feeling to fall in line behind Trump’s propaganda. After four years of spreading this fraud, there will likely be more true believers in his lies by 2024. Many of these candidates are running for office at the moment, raising the possibility they could monkey wrench the 2024 results by not cutting toward Trump when it is time to certify a winner.

We are exposing ourselves to a new world of danger if Trump runs in 2024. The Republican Party is creating a scenario where they deem the election legitimate if it wins. If they lose, they refuse certification for the Democratic candidate in swing state, making false voter fraud claims. We see polls now where a third to almost half of Republicans believe violence may be needed to save the country from a corrupt system, and I don’t know how one can realistically divorce that rage from Big Lie voter fraud claims that are driving right-wing outrage today. If even a small fraction of these people is serious and take to the streets after Trump calls on them in 2024 to “fight like hell, or you won’t have a country anymore,” we will be on the precipice of a crisis. And this, coupled with swing states refusing to certify a legitimate Democratic winner in multiple states — or even the precedent of one state refusing to certify — may be enough to provoke a full-on constitutional crisis. This is not where the country wants to be. It’s playing with fire and could lead to the emergence of a de facto dictatorship under Trump, or to a constitutional crisis and national implosion and collapse.

Are we witnessing fascism fully embraced in the United States?

The whole “is it fascism or not” discussion is no longer helpful — quite the contrary. It is wrong to discuss the U.S. with the assumption that there must be a fascist governing structure. This ignores the fact that fascist movements, ideology, and politics are being mainstreamed. The U.S. government, however, is not the functional equivalent to the Third Reich.

How does the rise of neofascism reconcile with Trump’s promise of “ending the era of endless wars”?

Contrary to his rhetoric, Trump continued to expand the U.S. commitment militarism and imperialism, allocating hundreds billions to military expenditure, expanding the war on Afghanistan, keeping massive U.S. soldiers in the Middle East and threatening to wipe North Korea from the map. He also escalated a military confrontation against Iran, increased the risk of nuclear war with Russia and demonized China and Chinese immigrants while imposing a white supremacist and Islamophobic travel ban on the U.S. and halve immigration to the U.

Do Republicans overlook Trump’s racism due to growing economic anxiety in the U.S.?

The Republican base has supported Trump throughout his rise to extremism. One of the most shameful lies in recent times is the attempt by pundits, academics, and others, to claim that Trump’s support comes down to economic insecurity. There is. little evidence that Trump’s supporters are more financially insecure than anyone else. His base is well-versed in his beliefs about sociocultural political issues, including his opposition to Black Lives Matter (BLM), and his subsequent targeting of people of colour. My research has shown that it is the main reason they support his candidacy. It is dangerous and irresponsible to downplay this fact.

What’s happened to “conservative” media?

It’s a con to talk about “conservative media” when outlets like Fox Talk radio and talk radio are mainstreaming white supremacy a laTucker Carlson’s programs promote unquestioned support for Trump. They also encourage cultist-style following and romanticize vigilante violence. These media outlets strayed into extremist territory years ago.

What has been the role of conspiracy theories and social media in the reactionary response we’re witnessing?

Republicans are now using conspiracy as their currency. They use social media to spread the news, which pushes people right. It makes sense for a political party that supports deregulation to sow distrust of government. Further, conspiracies are the venue through which Trump scapegoats ominous “others” who he can then rail against to maintain the support of his base and try to suppress his political adversaries.

Trump seeks demonization of the Democratic Party and all perceived critics. This includes immigrants and progressive social movements, such as #MeToo and BLM. If you equate immigration with crime, despite the complete lack of evidence for such a simplistic connection, and then link those things to Democrats by calling them “the party of immigration” and “the party of crime,” you can construct an image of a threat from the “other,” which needs to be stomped out. This is an eliminationist program. It aims to paint the Democratic Party, and people of color, as an existential threat for national security.

Trump’s claims of voter fraud, directed toward cities with heavy populations of people of color, such as Philadelphia and Detroit, are another example of racialized conspiracy theory implicitly portraying people of color as an existential threat.

We allow ourselves to indulge in these activities and take the risk at our own risk.

Why has Republicans become so united against the so-called critical Race Theory (CRT).

The anti-CRT campaign is part a movement to reestablish white nationalist politics and must be fought with all our might. It is a distopian effort to police classrooms, introduce big brother-style suppression and stifle any serious pedagogical campaign that aims to educate the public about structural racism. Republican state officials would like to use gestapo-style tactics in classrooms, telling students and professors they are not allowed talk about race or racism, and informing teachers that they will be fired if they don’t suppress the discussion. They also want to impose a surveillance state to ensure compliance. This is not possible with a legit democracy. It happens with an emerging police state.

Is the Democratic Party going be our salvation?

The Democratic Party is a big part of the problem. It embraces neoliberalism which has demobilized working-class Americans who can oppose fascism. It refuses to hold Republicans accountable for their efforts in derailing American elections. Trump’s efforts to subvert 2020 results by trying to extort a Georgia victory. Democrats are not able to cope with the threat of a Republican coup in 2024.

Trump’s politics and messaging showed how dangerous he can be. He drew on themes trying to dehumanize immigrants of color by referring to them as “animals” and “nested infestations,” a theme repeated by his foot soldiers in right-wing media. Untethered from the rule-of-law, a second Trump administration could go even further. Particularly if he attempts to suppress opposition by taking power through a coup. This is a very dangerous scenario. It is dangerous to try to minimize it.

What has been the role played by anti-fascist organisations? What else is needed?

We aren’t going to punch our way out of this crisis through street fights with Richard Spencer and his followers. Antifa played an important role in alerting the public to fascism’s dangers, or at most a quarter of them. But street fascists are too narrowly focused. We need a larger movement, based in alternative media and mainstream media, along with schools, that floods it with truths about capitalism’s past and highlights the threat of right-wing extremism.

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This interview was lightly edited to improve clarity.