With Trump no longer president and the January 6th uprising foiled, the danger seems to be behind us. “Democracy survived”
Yet few observers and activists on the left are confident of what the future holds. Most alarming are the bold attempts by Republican legislatures to suppress likely Democratic voters, along with redistributions and other steps to control or even suspend elections. President Biden called these machinations an “attack on democracy”. The repression of Republican voters, however, could be the tip of a much larger iceberg. Are Americans now living in the last few years of a highly competitive democratic project?
Could the United States be on the cusp of a far-right takeover of the federal government – as early as 2024?
Like the climate catastrophe, the signs of a severely compromised democracy and impending political catastrophe are present everywhere in our political life. Shouldn’t we have seen the emergency earlier? The racial justice movement has long drawn attention to how racism and racist power structures have undermined American democracy from the beginning. Historical amnesia leads to persistent sleepiness over the perverse influence of money, radical inequality, disabled social democracy, militarism and impunity for human rights abuses abroad and domestically.
The past six years have shocked many of us with new concerns. We need to listen to historians like Timothy Snyder and others who explored the final years of democracy in the Weimar Republic before the Nazis came to power. If the danger we face is similar to that of 1933 – a more accurate comparison could be Orban’s authoritarian takeover of Hungary –Everyone progressive movements should put this threat in the foreground of their strategic calculations. What is lacking, however, with a few notable exceptions, is a full understanding of the dangers we still face.
I am offering a preliminary map of the diverse and interlocking dimensions of the contemporary extreme right threat. Most are the readers of. already known The nation. However, my intention is to help us avoid reductionist explanations and strategies.
An assessment of the American far right should consider at least the following dimensions, which together constitute the threat to which we are exposed.
1) A popular, authoritarian leader who changed the political landscape during his four-year tenure and who still enjoys broad public support, the loyalty of a radicalized “grassroots” and Republican activists and leaders who either ideologically identify with or identify with Trumpism decide instrumentally for it are based on it. Donald Trump popularized and legitimized a violent, authoritarian and cruel style of politics that now extends far beyond the question of whether he will be the Republican presidential candidate in 2024.