A year later, we’re still stuck in a bad fascist coup movie: It doesn’t end well

Just over a year ago, Donald Trump and his allies tried to organize a coup against American democracy. This is something new in American history, but in another sense, it is very typical: It is the next stage in the demise of a failing democracy.

As I explained in a previous essay for SalonThe Trump coup plot is quite “unique” in that it was publicly announced years in advance and clearly organized, with more than enough warning that it could easily have been prevented from happening. In practical terms, many members of the American political class, media, and other elites allowed the coup plot to take place, either by negligence or by tacit consent.

Trump’s attempt to overthrow American democracy (which continues) is atypical in another important way: In the year since January 6, 2021, the American people and the world have learned a lot about almost every aspect of the Trump coup plot and the attack on the Capitol.

In her Newsletter Lucid, historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat recently explained many of the central or common factors involved in coup attempts, whether successful or otherwise. She begins with the comment that “controlling the flow of information” is important, especially when the coup fails and damage control is necessary:

Coups involve secrecy and speed. Their strength lies in the element of surprise – the unimaginable shock happens, and happens quickly. … The plot element of coups means that we don’t often know the details of their plans. If the coup is successful, it could become part of the origin story of the new nation’s collective. A leader can then reveal details about it to enhance his or her reputation for boldness and bravery. This was the case with Muammar Gaddafi, who had been planning his 1969 coup for years and its undisputed author.

What if the leader who came to power through the coup was the last to get on board, either because of his cautious nature (Francisco Franco) or because the coup plotters did not fully trust him (Augusto Pinochet)? Then it can take a long time for the truth to be revealed….

When coups fail, the government that survives the coup plot can reveal information to turn public opinion against the conspirators and justify any punishments met.

Many questions remain unanswered about the Trump regime’s plot to overthrow American democracy. If we are to hope to save American democracy and ensure some measure of justice is carried out, the truth will need to be revealed. At some point in the future, the January 6th House special committee, various whistleblowers, Justice Department investigations, journalists, documentarians, academics, and academics. Another study would compile something close to the full calculation of the Trump regime’s coup plot.

RELATED: What if the truth about January 6 is revealed – and the American people don’t care?

It is a question entirely separate from whether Donald Trump and his senior planners and coup plotters will ever face due accountability or punishment. crimes against their democracy. The answer to that question is probably no.

All in all, a kind of bizarre and malignant normal has taken hold of America in the Trump Era, and its hold has extended into the presidency of Joe Biden. The events of January 6 were the intermediary act in a much larger story that now includes The Big Lie, a sense of impending doom from the Republican Party’s fascism movement, the the growing threat of prolonged right-wing violence or even low-level civil war, and our status as a society where fact, truth and truth are no longer united because the Party Republicans and their supporters have undermined any such consensus.

In many ways, January 6 and the Trump Era have busted the myths many Americans have long entertained about themselves and their country.

Those myths and stories come from many sources, but America is a society where dreamy merchants and Hollywood fantasy movie makers (and the mass media in general) exercise power. almost limitless to shape the general imagination of the public. As a result, Americans have, for decades, “funded themselves to death”. Too many of us have lost the ability to distinguish the fantasies of mass media (including online and other digital spaces) from reality and its painful truths.

Say it witty. On January 6 of last year, no special forces, Secret Service assault squads or FBI hostage rescue units dramatically stormed the Capitol Building – as happened in a Hollywood movie. – get ready to fight Trump’s terrorist mob and keep members of Congress and other innocents safe from harm.

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Instead, senior Capitol police officers and other members of law enforcement displayed great fortitude in their efforts to carry out that dangerous work. They were understaffed and unprepared, and ultimately couldn’t keep the Trump rampage-fueled strike force from breaching the building’s defenses and running on the hunt for Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other perceived enemies.

In the real world, no national leader has risen to the occasion, arrested Trump and his entourage, delivered a fiery speech about the true values ​​of American democracy, and perhaps declared January 6 to be a new national holiday, a National Day Monday.

This isn’t “Seven Days in May” or some other Cold War thriller whose seemingly perfect plot to overthrow the government is limited to the actions of a few courageous souls. There is no time on January 6 or so when “principle” Republicans join Democrats in saving American democracy by denouncing Trump, his football team, and the Democratic Party. their movements, and at the same time exposed the entire coup plot.

In fact, Republicans in the House, just hours after the coup attempt, are still voting to void the 2020 presidential election, siding with the coup leader and against the populace. legal owner.

There has been no televised trial or hearing about the Trump regime’s coup plot, and no serious attempt to punish the wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law. There was no shutdown, no public sigh of relief and no sense that the coup had been unequivocally defeated. The threat from Trump and his movement is escalating, and the coup has not been stopped: If anything, it is gaining momentum at the state and local levels. Republicans will likely gain control of the House of Representatives this fall and possibly the Senate as well. A return to the White House in 2024 is possible. If Republicans can’t use voter exclusion and other Jim Crow-style anti-democratic tactics to win that election, they can stage another coup – and that coup. will be more likely to succeed.

Consider TrumpWorld’s compelling and at times, undeniably entertaining characters. Donald Trump himself is a reality TV star and pro wrestling “heel” who somehow became president. He’s surrounded himself with other characters right from the center selection, including corrupt deliveryman Roger Stone and “America mayor” Rudy Giuliani, now a completely incompetent mid-roller and a legal counsel of dubious skill and intellect.

It’s easy to laugh, but we cannot ignore the intelligent and very dangerous enemies of democracy like Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Stephen Miller, John Eastman, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and many more. There are also lesser known genuine followers and ideologies lurking in the shadows of ideological groups, interest groups, academia, business and finance, media, newspapers, churches. right-wing evangelicals, paramilitary troops and “tactical culture,” the military and veterans’ groups, and elsewhere in the private sector and public policy and consulting world.

In total, January 6 and its counter-climate results present a portrait of American society that seems filtered not through Hollywood blockbusters but through the artistic visions of Jim Jarmusch, Francis Ford Coppola , Sidney Lumet and John Schlesinger. But none of this is a movie that the American people can turn off or walk away from. It’s completely too real. Rejection, burnout, learned helplessness or just plain surrender cannot bring salvation.

The absurd and bizarre aspects of January 6 and its aftermath do nothing to lessen the danger facing America. Indeed, fascism and other forms of civic evil do their job by making the unthinkable, the ridiculous, and the seemingly impossible normal and acceptable. receive. Now we are almost there. January 6 is just another milestone in that journey.

More on the aftermath of January 6 and the GOP’s attack on democracy: A year later, we’re still stuck in a bad fascist coup movie: It doesn’t end well

Huynh Nguyen

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