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Trending Toward Authoritarianism

Trending Toward Authoritarianism: Introduction

Trending Toward Authoritarianism

Trending Toward Authoritarianism properly defines the United States while Republican administrations have been in power since 1980. The history is clear when viewed from the perspective of the American Experiment with a Democratic-Republic set forth in the Constitution of the United States.

This post argues that the trajectory of the Republican Party in the United States from the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 to the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016 led the United States to the potential for the silent destruction of the Republic and the potential for the installation of an authoritarian fascist government. The narrative highlights several key points that contributed to this trajectory:

Trending Toward Authoritarianism: Assault on Organized Labor

The Reagan administration initiated an active assault on organized labor through right-to-work laws and the handling of the flight controllers’ strike. This set the stage for the destruction of organized labor. Union membership in 1983 represented around 20% of the workforce, by 2015 it stood at a mere 11% of the workforce. This decline in union membership correlates to the decline in people that are classified as middle-class in America.

Reaganomics and Neoliberal Economic Policies: Trending Toward Authoritarianism:

The implementation of Reaganomics replaced Keynesian economics with neoliberal economic policies, including trickle-down theory, supply-side economics, and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. I am suggesting that these policies favored the rich and corporations at the expense of the middle and working classes.

Military Actions

The Reagan administration’s focus on bolstering the military and its invasion of Grenada must be understood as part of the trajectory toward an authoritarian government. There was little cause to invade a nearly defenseless tiny island other than to erase the stain of Viet Nam from the archives of American history. Regan’s action, in this case, opened the door for other Presidents that followed were able to engage the military using outright lies and conspiracies to convince the people that the US must use its overwhelming power to police the world.

Trending Toward Authoritarianism: Dark Money and Corruption

The Reagan administration’s involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and the use of dark money are contributing factors to corruption. Again, an action of deceit opened doors for subsequent administrations to use creative lies to convince the people and Congress that only the power of the US military could ensure the balance of power in the Middle East could be maintained into what turned out to be a 20-year failed engagement. In Afghanistan, the ouster of the Taliban theocracy was only interrupted as the Taliban are, once again, in power.

The Trajectory Continues beyond Reagan, Through both Bush I and II and Trump Administrations

Subsequent Republican administrations, including George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and their actions, I argue, furthered the trajectory set by Reagan. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S.-Afghan and Iraqi wars during George W. Bush’s presidency furthered the cause of this trajectory. Finally, the election of Donald Trump suggests that his administration was characterized by corruption and deceit and an unassailable authoritarian tone from the first day to the January 6th insurrection fueled by the outgoing President.

Trending Toward Authoritarianism: The Lessons Not Learned Yet

Since Reagan was in office through the present day, we can trace the demise of the Middle-Class and Working-Class in economic terms. The backbone of the nation, those of us that worked for a living, built the country, and produced the most powerful economy in the world, watched as the millionaires and billionaires grew richer and richer at the expense of essentially flat wages when understood through economic buying power, created a sense of impotency along with a formula for finger pointing and the distrust of the other.

Responsible Media? Where has it Gone?

Then there is the problem of mass murder as an expression of the above-mentioned distrust of the other. Xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, and the media bubbles that were created because of Reagan and the overturning of the fairness doctrine that governed what could be broadcast over public airways. Responsible reporting ethics included the importance of not printing or broadcasting anything that was not verifiable.

There were no such things as alternative facts as Kelly Ann Conway would have us believe. Now, however, the media, free of the fairness doctrine is unencumbered by truth. This creates a condition in which nothing printed, or broadcast can be believed. Many Americans, like me, have simply turned off the media seeking information from sources that hold themselves to the higher standard of only reporting the verifiable truth.

Guns and Information: Trending Toward Authoritarianism

Of course, the mass murder problem in the United States is one of the availability of guns, including weapons of war available to anyone who can afford the price. While partly a problem of unregulated media, it is another condition that rules this roost.

Profound Constitutional Error

This condition is directly related to the corruption of dark money in politics and a profound misreading of the second amendment: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. How does one not take the first clause of the amendment seriously? “A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State” is largely ignored in favor of the second clause as the foundational text opening the door to senseless mass shootings.

The Thoughts and Prayers Solution; Trending Toward Authoritarianism:

There are more guns than people in the United States because of this profound misreading by the Supreme Court of the United States. This result flows from the amount of money the National Rifle Association contributes to both sides of the aisle. Representatives and Senators no longer have any loyalty to their constituents, rather their allegiance is to those wealthy enough to provide ‘legal bribes’ and fancy vacations to unfamiliar places. Until these two issues can be resolved we, as a nation, will be reduced to “Thoughts and Prayers” as a mythical solution to a very real problem.

Conclusion

The case made here for the straight line drawn through the Republican Administrations beginning with Ronald Reagan and culminating with Donald Trump (interestingly both stars in the entertainment industry) suggests that the Republicans abandoned their long-term priorities of fiscal responsibility, small government, and personal responsibility for wasteful spending, increasing the size and power of the National administration, eschewing responsibility for the crumbling of American political ideals of a representative republic where diversity is welcome and people feel a part of the great experiment. I am arguing that to return the national government to some form of sanity, we must come to understand how the past 40-some-odd years led us down the path to this slow-moving coup.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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