Can Democracy Survive - John Samuel Tieman

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Axar.az presents an article "Can Democracy Survive" by John Samuel Tieman.

To many of my fellow citizens, the latest Georgia indictments of Donald Trump are just more of the same. More noise. More blur. More indictments. I agree with folks who feel it all is a bit overwhelming. Where I disagree is this. It's not confusing. What Trump and his followers did is clear. They attempted insurrection. What is also clear is that a majority of Republicans, and a vast array of Republican leaders, support Trump. The numbers slightly vary, depending upon the poll. But the support is clear.

The opposition to democracy is better organized than many think. That opposition has a threefold composition. There is a violent hardcore. Then there are hangers-on with varying degrees of affiliation. These two groups share both ideology, conspiracy theories and delusions. But none of that would come to much without leaders who exploit these people.

Like millions of my fellow citizens, on January 6th, 2021, I assumed that the Capital Building was overrun by a mob of disorganized morons. I was wrong. Closer inspection revealed both a surprising homogeneity in race and ideology, and a surprisingly diverse group in terms of region and class. Robert Pape, who directs the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago, analyzed data from over 700 people arrested for crimes committed that day. His study shows that more than half of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were white-collar workers, folks who were architects, physicians, business owners, lawyers and such. Only 7% were unemployed. About 1 in 12 were veterans. Rioters were mostly in their 40s and 50s. In addition to D. C. and neighboring communities, rioters came from, among other places, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, St. Louis, Houston, and Philadelphia. Over half hail from counties where Biden won. Many insurrectionists came from counties that lost their white majority. They were invariably Trump supporters. 87% of Capitol rioters were not members of violent groups like the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys. That said, many indeed belonged to violent hate groups. All of them were spurred-on by a number of leaders, including Donald Trump.

Right there, on TV, the insurrectionists showed us who they are – a violent hardcore, various supporters, the leaders who exploit them. This is a national movement. It's worth taking a moment to consider them from a national perspective.

There is a violent hardcore, one made up of the Klan, Neo-Nazis, Boogaloos, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, members of the militia movement, and similar groups. These groups seem different and diverse, but they have, at their core, a unity of purpose. They are pro-gun and anti-government. They are racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic. They support Trump. They are white supremacists. Often misunderstood is that they are white nationalists, true, but that nation is not simply the United States. The bible of the far right, “The Turner Diaries”, outlines an Aryan nation that is global, one in which all non-white races have to be killed. Many in this hardcore are veterans. Estimates vary, but studies suggest that these groups number between a few thousand to a few tens of thousands of dedicated members.

Outside of this violent hardcore, there are hundreds of thousands who have varying degrees of interest, support and involvement. They read the literature, show up at rallies, and are convinced by the violent rhetoric, delusions and conspiracy theories.

These two groups would be unlikely to cohere without one other factor, exploitative leadership. I say 'exploitative' because I don't believe that Donald Trump, for one, really believes that there is a “deep state”, an evil ensemble of Democrats, Blacks, Jews, socialists, Muslims, immigrants, criminals, and an international cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles. It's delusional. Part of the delusion is that the “deep state” exercises power alongside and within the government. Yet people are willing to exploit this delusion. As the former president said recently, ''I will totally obliterate the deep state. We know who they are. I am the only one who can save this nation. Justice will be done. We will take back our country.''

Let me conclude this column with a warning. Let me say this as simply, and as clearly, as I can. Republican or Democrat or Independent, any elected official, who has not unequivocally denounced this insurrection, has betrayed his or her oath. More broadly, any American citizen, who has not unequivocally denounced this insurrection, has betrayed his or her nation. “The big lie”, January 6th, the various attempts to steal the election, all of it, this is not partisan politics. These are crimes against the United States Of America. If this movement is not stopped, I doubt that American democracy can survive.

2023.08.28 / 09:52
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