Jim Jordan, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump
Left to right: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Russian President Valimir Putin, and Former President Donald J. Trump. Photo credit: Illustration by WhoWhatWhy from Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED), The White House / Wikimedia, and 947051 / Pixabay.

The difference between Republican and Democratic visions for America is as clear as the difference between Russia and Norway (or California and Mississippi).

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Today’s Republican Party is dedicated to destroying what they call the “deep state” and the rest of us call the American government. From Donald Trump followers in MAGA hats at rallies to Republican US senators, they’ll all tell you this without a moment’s hesitation.

Steve Bannon even proclaimed it as the main goal of the Trump presidency in their first months in the White House, saying Trump’s goal was the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Talking about government regulations that protect the environment, punish companies and con men who rip off consumers, and provide for a safe workplace, Bannon said in March, 2017:

That’s all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.

In this, the GOP, Putin, and fossil fuel billionaires are all working toward the same goal: to do away with or at least fatally weaken the institutions of our government that prevent the morbidly rich and wannabee strongman autocrats from taking over America.

They’re doing this because they don’t believe democracy is a good or even viable idea. 

Seven thousand years of the history of civilization, they’ll tell you, show that the one constant has been autocracy and strongman rule. Democracy is merely an experiment to protect the weak and “average” people from predation by the “supermen” among us — and that, they argue, violates the basic laws of nature.

In that, they’re wrong. Nature very much runs by democratic principles, as I detail at length in The Hidden History of American Democracy. Study after study of animals ranging from gnats to geese to fish to mammals all find that most species use majority-rule “voting” systems for group decision-making and to protect the young, vulnerable, and elderly.  

For democracy to work in human societies isn’t some magic or organic thing; it depends on institutions and systems to function and remain free of corruption.

Without those administrative state functions, countries and states devolve into Third World status — with corrupt leaders who steal everything that’s not nailed down, hand government and business functions off to their cronies, and suppress dissent or calls for democracy with violence and prisons.

The transformation of America from a modern “social democracy” with strong protections for the environment and the working class into strongman rule is exactly what Trump, Putin, and some of the billionaires who own the GOP want. Being answerable to the people is bothersome and inconvenient for them.

Conservative thinkers from Plato to William F. Buckley to Russell Kirk have denigrated democracy, claiming that it’s merely “mob rule.” Right-wing billionaires look over their shoulders at the teeming masses and shudder, remembering a time in America when the top income tax bracket was 90 percent for the morbidly rich and 50 percent for the most profitable corporations.

It was also a time of the greatest prosperity for the American middle-class, the highest levels of social mobility, and the strongest social cohesion.

Rather than submit to such “onerous” taxation, regardless of the social benefits it conferred, they’d rather burn the entire system down.

Special Counsel Jack Smith recently said of Trump:

Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election, the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.

While most people believe Trump is ranting about our justice system to deflect attention from his many crimes, in fact he’s all-in on the program to Putin-ize America.

He knows — from his own experience in the White House — that the main barriers to a president declaring himself the king of America, with rule by decree, are the systems of checks and balances built into every modern democracy.

It was exactly those systems — legislative, judicial, and administrative — that Putin in Russia and Orbán in Hungary corrupted and then seized control over to achieve and maintain their iron-fisted rule.

Similarly, the next steps in the GOP’s plan to turn America into a single-party state — that mirrors what they’ve achieved in a dozen or so Red states — explicitly involve damaging, corrupting, and then controlling the systems of the US federal government.

In most fully GOP-controlled Red states:

  • Low-income working people don’t have access to Medicaid, so if they or their kids get sick they either go bankrupt or die.
  • Public education is under attack in those states with voucher programs designed to fully privatize and profit-ize schools.
  • There are few scholarship programs for higher education, so students go deeply into debt.
  • Women are denied the right to an abortion.
  • Districts are so gerrymandered that voting is a largely symbolic exercise.
  • Union rights are non-existent.
  • Guns have more protections than children.

This is why in Blue states:

  • Women live as much as 2 years longer.
  • Overall life expectancy is as high as in Denmark (Connecticut), while in Red states it’s as low as Serbia or Brazil (Oklahoma).
  • Cancer rates are lower (358 per 100,000 people in California) than Red states (504 per 100,000 in Kentucky).
  • Heart disease can be as much as five times lower than in Red states.
  • Children are less likely to die from gunfire (a child in Massachusetts is one-tenth as likely to die by gunfire as in Mississippi).
  • People have measurably higher levels of primary school graduation and achievement.
  • The vast majority of people are fully insured for healthcare.
  • Babies and new mothers are far less likely to die than in Red states.
  • Food insecurity (hunger) is rare, compared to Red states.
  • Obesity and chronic disease rates are much lower than in Red states.
  • Rates of hypertension are much lower than in Red states.

The lists go on and on. Do a search on just about any measurable index of quality-of-life and you’ll find that Democratic-controlled states are doing better than Red states. The only area where Red states do better is cost of living and taxation, but living cheap has its own problems as you can see above.

Which is exactly why Red states and their forms of governance appeal to the morbidly rich: Their tax “burden” is lower than in Blue states. And it’s also why American oligarchs are working so hard to transform the entire country into Red state forms of governance.

Jim Jordan, Donald Trump, Ohio

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) appears onstage with Donald Trump at Olentangy Orange High School in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. Photo credit: © Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press Wire

The war against American institutions — and, thus, American democracy — is now going full-bore.

  • The GOP is considering putting Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the man the January 6th Committee said played the largest role among members of Congress in that insurrection, in charge of the House as its speaker.
  • To cripple our government, Republicans in the Senate are blocking confirmation of our diplomats (including to Israel), promotions for our military, and appointees to the Departments of Energy, State, Veterans Affairs, and Justice.
  • Republicans in the House are refusing to move forward appropriations legislation to keep our government operating past November 17.
  • Republicans in Red states are purging city-dwelling voters from the rolls by the millions and passing legislation making it harder to vote in every way they can imagine.
  • Republicans on the Supreme Court have stripped away protections against politicians being corrupted by wealthy people and corporations.
  • Republicans are taking to the media to tell outrageous lies, some so bad that even Fox “News” hosts can’t stomach them.

The difference between Republican and Democratic visions for America is as clear as the difference between Russia and Norway (or California and Mississippi).

Will we have rule by “We, the People” or by an elite group of autocrats? A high standard of living for all, or riches for a few and poverty for everybody else? Quality healthcare and education for all, or “you’re on your own if you weren’t smart enough to be born into a wealthy family?”

The next 15 months will determine which will ultimately prevail and, perhaps for the last time in the history of America, anybody who chooses to vote can have a say.

Reprinted from The Hartmann Report with the author’s permission.

Thom Hartmann is a four-time Project Censored-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of 34 books in print and the #1 progressive talk show host in America for more than a decade.


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