About a week ago, Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine authored an article about democracy’s vulnerability to tyranny. He details the conditions that are often present when democracy falls victim to fascism and authoritarianism, and points out that many of those conditions have already been met in our current economic and political climates.
He realistically warns that Donald Trump is dangerously close to becoming the President of the United States.
Near the end of the article, he argues:
More to the point, those Republicans desperately trying to use the long-standing rules of their own nominating process to thwart this monster deserve our passionate support, not our disdain. This is not the moment to remind them that they partly brought this on themselves. This is a moment to offer solidarity, especially as the odds are increasingly stacked against them. Ted Cruz and John Kasich face their decisive battle in Indiana on May 3. But they need to fight on, with any tactic at hand, all the way to the bitter end. The Republican delegates who are trying to protect their party from the whims of an outsider demagogue are, at this moment, doing what they ought to be doing to prevent civil and racial unrest, an international conflict, and a constitutional crisis. These GOP elites have every right to deploy whatever rules or procedural roadblocks they can muster, and they should refuse to be intimidated.
What has happened since this article was published? Well, the Indiana primary did turn out to be decisive. Donald Trump won handily, and his final Republican challengers, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, bowed out of the race. Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee. So much for fighting to the bitter end.
Furthermore, the #NeverTrump arm of the Republican Party has all but crumbled, leaving only a few relics of conservatism still standing. Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement that he is not “yet” ready to endorse Trump isn’t reassuring. Former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush have decided to “sit out the 2016 general election” (notice that they’re not planning on proactively trying to stop Trump), and former Republican nominee Mitt Romney has allegedly met with Weekly Standard editor William Kristol about a third-party nominee, but these are simply further examples of Republicans’ pathological tendency for doing too little too late.
Deadlines are fast approaching for independent and third-party candidates to get on November ballots. With many deadlines falling in June, July and August, an effort to syphon enough votes away from Trump to stop him in the general would be incredibly difficult and expensive. Such an operation would require an immediate, massive influx of money as well as meticulous targeting of states where such a candidate could make an impact. Given the GOP’s inability to stop Trump in the 11 months since he announced his candidacy, nobody should expect the GOP to pull off such a miracle.
No, in order to stop this demagogue from becoming the President, there must be strong and sustained support for the Democrat’s nominee — presumably Hillary Clinton. While polls show her comfortably ahead, Andrew Sullivan points out that that lead is tenuous at best:
And so current poll numbers are only reassuring if you ignore the potential impact of sudden, external events — an economic downturn or a terror attack in a major city in the months before November. I have no doubt, for example, that Trump is sincere in his desire to “cut the head off” ISIS, whatever that can possibly mean. But it remains a fact that the interests of ISIS and the Trump campaign are now perfectly aligned. Fear is always the would-be tyrant’s greatest ally.
America’s democracy has withstood much; but we are walking a dangerous road, and there are pitfalls aplenty.