America is rapidly morphing from a representative government to a dictatorship, and it’s all thanks to Republicans in state and federal office.
Even though we’re just barely over a month into 2018, there are already five recent examples of Republican members of Congress, in addition to GOP governors and President Trump, flirting with authoritarianism on levels not previously breached by even traditionally odious Republicans like Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon.
1. Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker attacks legitimacy of state supreme court
After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Republicans’ gerrymandered Congressional district map was so overtly favorable to Republicans that it violated the state’s constitution, the legislature and Governor Tom Wolf (D) were given a deadline of February 15 to submit another redistricting map. State Representative Cris Dush (R-66th) countered by issuing a memo to all of his colleagues calling for the five Democrats on the state supreme court to be impeached and for them to be permanently barred from holding office in Pennsylvania ever again.
While such a blatant attack on the judiciary may have seemed unfathomable in recent history, President Trump’s repeated attacks on federal judges provide useful cover for Republicans who launch similar attacks in their home states.
2. Republican governor refuses to allow citizens to vote
After appointing state senator Frank Lasee (R-1st) and state representative Keith Ripp (R-42nd) to positions in his administration, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is now simply refusing to hold special elections to fill those vacant seats, effectively denying residents of those legislative districts representation in state government.
This is not unlike Alabama House Republicans voting to end special elections following accused pedophile Roy Moore’s narrow defeat to Democrat Doug Jones in the December special election. This is also not unlike a traditional dictatorship, where the right to vote is either suspended or rendered meaningless.
3. Congressional Republicans aid and abet Trump’s attacks on federal investigators
Despite the FBI sternly discouraging President Trump from releasing a memo by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California), Trump released the memo anyway. This is despite the memo’s author — a member of Trump’s transition team — acknowledging that he cherry-picked certain information and left other pertinent information out in order to make his case that there was anti-Trump bias within the FBI. In addition to attacking his current hand-picked FBI director, Trump has also fired or intimidated previous FBI officials in his firing of James Comey and his attempted firing of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Very few Republicans aside from Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) have spoken out against Trump’s attacks on the FBI, which he proudly posts on Twitter (while referring to himself in the third person and forgetting the difference between “their” and “there”).
“The four page memo released Friday reports the disturbing fact about how the FBI and FISA appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath….The FBI failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign had funded the dossier….the FBI became….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2018
…a tool of anti-Trump political actors. This is unacceptable in a democracy and ought to alarm anyone who wants the FBI to be a nonpartisan enforcer of the law….The FBI wasn’t straight with Congress, as it hid most of these facts from investigators.” Wall Street Journal
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2018
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018
4. Trump wants a military parade in Washington (commonly seen in a dictatorship)
President Trump has reportedly asked the Pentagon to make preparations for a grandiose military parade featuring tanks and missiles down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, citing his experience watching France’s Bastille Day parade. However, it’s important to remember this has long since been a dream of Trump’s, having first asked for a military-themed Inauguration Day parade. Veterans advocacy group VoteVets, which has over 600,000 members, released a statement attacking Trump’s idea of a military parade as insulting to the men and women of the armed forces, and hinting that Trump wanted the U.S. military to resemble that of a third-world dictatorship.
“The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way,” VoteVets stated. “Our military is the very best in the world — they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander-in-chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.”
“Unfortunately, we do not have a commander-in-chief right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.” (emphasis theirs)
Retired Major General Paul Eaton says @realDonaldTrump's parade idea underscores his authoritarian tendencies, and that our military is not there to be "used and abused" to prop up his image.
VoteVets full statement on Trump's orders for a military parade. pic.twitter.com/Am7uSSWZfo
— VoteVets (@votevets) February 7, 2018
5. Republicans shrug at Trump’s refusal to implement sanctions he signed into law
Last year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted almost unanimously by a 419-3 margin to punish Russia with new economic sanctions in response to U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. Senate concurred with the House in a near-unanimous 98-2 vote. Even though President Trump signed the new sanctions into law, his administration is simply refusing to implement the sanctions, saying Russian businesses have suffered enough.
There’s no denying that Republicans — following Trump’s actions — are flirting more and more with making America a dictatorship in repeated attacks on democratic institutions like courts and law enforcement and in allowing their president to escape the rule of law and the limits imposed by the Constitution. How bad will Americans let it get?
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.