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Once they’re in, you can’t vote them out

I rarely put clips from Maddow on this blog. She’s only on one day a week on Monday’s so we hear from her less frequently. MAGA Republicans don’t appreciate Maddow’s style. She reports the news by telling a story. These stories happen to be based on the historical record. As her narratives unfold, she picks up strands from history and current events and shows how we got to where we are. There’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to the nature of power. History repeats but people tend to forget. Sometimes, you have to touch the darkness before you can recognize the light. But wouldn’t it be nice, less deadly and costly if we could learn from the mistakes of others?

Last night was one of her best narratives. It centered around the election of Giorgia Meloni as Italy’s new prime minister (or is it president? So hard to keep these parliamentary democracies straight).

Meloni is a hard right politician with a strong nationalist streak like Victor Orban and Marine LePen. What makes Meloni unique is the direct descent of her party from Benito Mussolini’s Fascist party.

By the way, did you ever notice that when there’s a word that ties a negative concept to the Republican Party suddenly that word pops up everywhere? It’s like when you are a kid and you start thinking about a word and by saying it over and over and over again in different ways, it loses all meaning. I did that once to the word “door”. Interesting fallout from that. For the longest time, I had a hard time associating the word with the physical object. Eventually, I got over it but you know, experiments sometimes don’t turn out the way you think they will.

I’m pretty sure the Republican psyops masters do the same thing. They repeat a word in many different ways until it loses all meaning and that’s how they inoculate their audience so that the brain no longer responds to the concept. It’s my theory and I’m sticking with it. So even though the republicans are objectively and evidentially displaying strong fascist characteristics right now, the word has been played out and everybody is a fascist. Nevertheless, fascism is alive and well and we need to talk about what happens when they take over.

So I’m playing the clip from Maddow’s monologue last night. It’s worth it to watch the whole thing from start to finish. It’s about 20 minutes long and the images of Mussolini from WWII are chilling.

But about 2/3 of the way in, she starts to review what the fascists are really after. Why go through all this trouble? What’s the point of the “election integrity” shtick? What’s with the “Potemkin referendum” in the occupied areas of Ukraine? Why are elections meaningless in Hungary under Victor Orban? What are they up to?

The answer is that they want to pick their voters because once they are in power and elections become a pre-ordained formality, they can do what they want and you can never vote them out again. Once they are in office, they immediately set about to fix the system of government so that only their voters count and only they count the votes. Ladies and gentlemen of the American states, we are already about halfway there. They’re on a tear. If we are not careful, this election may be the last one that counts for a very long time.

And what would drive American fascists in the Republican Party to do this? Well, they never did like the New Deal. They were dead set against Social Security. Think about that. Why would they oppose giving workers security in their old age? What does that mean to laissez faire capitalism in a dog eat dog, everyone for themselves, put your thumb on the scale society when workers can always leave a job for another one without worrying too much about retirement? Same with Medicare.

Oh, they wouldn’t do that, would they? Sure they would. Look at what they did to 50 years of precedent on reproductive rights. Affirmative action is on the block. Who knows what else?

I’m a firm believer in capitalism but I want the rules to be fair so all of us can play without being screwed. I want our water to be clean. I want energy diversification. I want safe drugs and food. But all that regulation costs money and the way Republicans have been tearing through the regulatory state shows what their intent is. They don’t care what the rest of us want. And they will care even less when they make sure that votes no longer count.

Anyway, here’s the clip from Maddow last night. Pass it around:

I’m back! Thanks to everyone who contributed to my latte and margarita fund. The weather cooperated nicely though the boat started rocking on Wednesday as the waves generated by Fiona finally reached us. That made for an interesting trip up and downstairs as the boat rolled from side to side. It took me a couple days to lose my sea legs. So that was fun.

I’m thinking of a walking tour of the British isles for my next vacay. Is anyone interested in making this a party? Maybe next year? Mayish? Let me know.


13 Responses

  1. The title of your essay says it all. Not that the text is not important, but the bottom line is that it is almost impossible to remove dictators, particularly when they control the military and the media.. One of the greatest tragedies is that so many people want a dictatorship, either because they admire brute power, or they think that the dictator will be on their side, or they are just very ignorant

    I am glad that you had a good vacation!

  2. Mussolini has two granddaughters in Italian politics. One’s currently in the Rome city government and the other was in the national legislature. it’s amazing.

  3. My first thought about Meloni is that she should have been forthright enough to change her white blouse for a black one.

    The jury is still out on whether democracies can work long-term. Throughout most of human history, we’ve chosen to be ruled by psychopaths. I’m afraid this current trend is just regression to the mean, in more ways than one.

  4. My first thought was ‘It’s Italy’. They have had 70 governments in the last 77 years. That is a new government every 14 months or so. Why would this one last?

  5. A walking tour of the British Isles, sounds amazing.
    A couple of friends of mine, did a bike tour, of Ireland.

    I thought that sounded sublime.

  6. The trip sounds lovely and with a few more months of Liz Truss you should be able to buy the whole place with the change that’s lurking in your sofa

    • Seriously. Has there ever been more of a short term disaster? The Tories should have called for an election. Either way they will be screaming for her head in about 6 months.

      • Yeah, I know. I caught bits and pieces of the campaign on the Telegraph and the Guardian (I like to balance the biases of my sources) and my first thought was “My God, this woman is a complete dunce”. The brilliant intellect of Herschel Walker combined with the natural warmth and empathy of Margaret Thatcher – what a winning combination!

        I’d like to reiterate my proposal for the breakup of the UK and eventual annexation of England by the United States. I think it’s their only hope. I believe my late Northumbrian aunt would approve.

  7. I’ve always wanted to go on a coach tour of historic English houses and gardens. Miss Marple will of course be among our pleasant little group of travellers. None of us have any secrets.

  8. Why are elections meaningless in Hungary under Victor Orban? What are they up to?

    There’s a long history of f@scism and proto-f@scism in Hungary, starting with the reaction to the first (short-lived) Communist government there after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some sources claim that the term “national soci@lism” was actually coined by the early 20th Century Hungarian right-wing politician Gyula Gömbös a year before it was first used in Germany. Gömbös had very close personal ties to Germany and later adopted the 25 point program of the NSDAP for his movement. He was also one of the first European politicians to propose the elimination of Jews in Europe (which he referred to as “asemitism”, to distinguish himself from those who merely wanted to discriminate against Jews), although he dropped that particular proposal when he was incorporated into Admiral Horthy’s government. Horthy was a right-wing totalitarian, but he wasn’t particularly bigoted. The Scythe Cross and Arrow Cross Hungarian N@zi movements were Gömbös’s direct ideological heirs, although he did not live long enough to see the Germans install them to replace Horthy’s regency in 1944.

    So, Orban is really nothing new in Hungarian politics. The only thing that’s surprising is that he bothered to masquerade as a small-d democrat for so many years before assuming power and revealing his true intentions.

    I think part of the issue here is that the second Hungarian Communist government never really undertook the sort of de-N@zification process that happened in West Germany after the War. They imprisoned or executed the leaders of the Arrow Cross and similar organizations, but they never really attempted to discredit the root of that ideology, because that would have meant discrediting their own totalitarian views.

    The big mistake the West has made in this regard was assuming that everyone who was opposed to Marxism was somehow also a believer in democracy. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is just another enemy.

    • 😳
      That answer was so good I need a cigarette.

      • Because we’re the heirs to a tradition of limited government and parliamentary representation that goes back to the Magna Carta, I think Americans have some biases especially where Europeans are concerned. We seem to expect Europeans in general to harbor the reverence for small-d democratic norms that (until recently) were taken for granted here.

        It just isn’t so.

        There are lots of countries in Europe whose experience with representative democracy prior to 1990 was negligible. Hungary is one of them.

        Whether it’s the Arpads, the Angevins, the Corvins. the Hunyadis, local warlords, the Mongols, the Habsburgs, the Communists (1918-1919) the F@scists, the N@zis, or the Communists again (1945-1989), Hungary has been mostly ruled by violent autocrats and totalitarians for a thousand years. The only exception to that was the short-lived (April-August 1849) Hungarian Republic under Lajos Kossuth, and the Habsburg armies made pretty short work of that (with the assistance of the Tsar).

        Is it really any wonder that they’d regress to pre-democratic form and back somebody like Orban?

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