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“Then They Came For Fani Willis”

Greg Bluestein, political writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, reports that Georgia Governor Kemp ” is expected to sign a measure that gives the state new power to investigate, sanction, and even remove prosecutors for a host of broad reasons, including ‘willful misconduct,’ as Republicans seek sweeping oversight of local DA’s.”

You have probably heard about that bill. These bills, created by right-wing state legislatures in this country, never are stopped, no Republican in power thinks better of them. A Republican governor, and Republican state legislatures, are all they need, to barrel these bills through. Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill which will ban all voting drop boxes in that state.

It does not take much insight to realize that these states, completely dominated by Republicans, at least ever since the “shellacking” of the 2010 midterms, and some long before that, are intending to set up fascist governments, where they have the only power. The bill in Georgia is of course directly intended to stymie, intimidate, and get rid of, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis,who has been conducting a major investigation of Donald Trump’s efforts to intimidate, threaten, and extort Georgia officials, primarily Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to “find me 11,780 votes,” to make up the amount of votes Trump lost the state by, plus one more.

“Find the votes,” meant “invent the votes.” Just make them up, add them to Trump’s total, and Trump wins Georgia’s electoral votes. This was such a criminal act, such a violation of any norms of a democracy, that Trump should be in jail now. But as things are in this country, nothing has happened, except that Willis is getting close to indicting him. So the Republicans who run the state have come up with legislation intended to get rid of Willis, and stop the investigation. Really not much different than Henry II’s “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” which was clearly intended to encourage the murder of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170.

This legislation will not only enable Kemp or the Georgia legislature to fire Willis, it will intimidate every single DA in Georgia, that the king–um, the Governor (“Georgia is a free republic, we do not have any kings here!”)–can get rid of any one of them, for the vague and subjective “willful misconduct.”

This is pretty much what Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting to do in Israel: put the judicial branch under the power of the executive branch. The only protection the people have against a leader who is seeking a totalitarian state, is the judicial branch. Control or neuter that, and there is nothing to stop the executive from trampling all laws and individual rights. This is the playbook used by Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, and all the other fascists whom America’s Republican Party members cheer for and invite to speak at CPAC.

There is a massive and relentless effort underway to turn the entire world into a totalitarian state; or for now, a series of them. I wonder if France is next, with Le Pen. That is another story; should Macron’s effort to raise the retirement age there by two years, have been met with massive demonstrations, and even some violence? A classic dilemma, and Macron is no fascist, but Le Pen, just waiting to take advantage, is.

Back to Georgia, will this bill be found to be unconstitutional, because it violates the “separation of powers” which scholars have interpreted to be inherent in our Constitution? This doctrine is not specifically in the Constitution, and there have been decisions which have appeared to stand for the principle that separation of powers among branches of government is not mandatory in states.

And as the bulwark of their fifty-year attempt to take over all power to themselves, the Republicans have finally managed to install a Supreme Court which cannot possibly be counted on to protect any of it. “The unitary executive theory” is part of their framework. They want the executive to have absolute power–as long as it suits them. So the idea of all judges and district attorneys in a state being subject to the whim and political position of the governor, follows this. “Willis wants to investigate Trump? That is ‘willful misconduct,’ and we will remove her.” Just like that.

I don’t know if that many people realize how absolutely horrifying hat is, at least for those who believe in democracy, and that “no person is above the law.” What they are doing in Georgia, DeSantis, who is vying to be President, is doing in Florida. He has removed elected officials under various pretenses. He can’t quite have them executed, as in various historical periods, but that may be coming; at least a long jail term, and a law that says that they can never hold any office again. And the mob shouts with exultation, as the heads roll and are collected into baskets.

Republicans stand for the proposition that if there is something happening that they don’t like; if there is some elected official who is plaguing them, they just use their power in the state legislature and governorship to make some law which allows them to get rid of him or her. They are so proud of this, how they “own the libs” by making up laws specifically designed to do that.

Of course, these laws could also endanger their own side in theory, but they will selectively enforce them, and change them if necessary. When people finally woke up and elected Democratic governors in North Carolina and Wisconsin, a few years ago, the state legislature, in “lame duck session,” stripped powers from the governor. An all-out assault on democracy, which most of the media accept as “smart political tactics.”

There is an article today about how John Eastman was instrumental in stopping the vote count in Florida in 2000, which prevented Gore from becoming President. That saga is so awful that I can scarcely want to think about it. It was the first major step in the Republicans’ takeover of democracy, and no one stopped it, their Supreme Court majority countenanced it; and the media accepted and even applauded it.

What is the answer, the anodyne, to this? Well, voting, of course. But they’ve got it set up, at least in the states they own, so that they wield all the power, including the power to stop people who don’t agree with them, from voting. Hence Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting rid of drop boxes, another way to make it harder for working people to vote. If they could cancel elections, they would, but they are fine with doing it this way.

Their assault on democracy continues daily, it is Republicans’ way of life. They’ve got a whole series of countermeasures for anything we try to do to stop it; and most importantly, they’ve got a Supreme Court which will support them almost completely. Some headway was made in state legislatures in the 2022 elections, notably in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but so much more has to be done. Republicans and their media would scream and bellow if Democrats ever tried to expand the Supreme Court; but meanwhile they think nothing of rewriting laws, writing draconian ones, and then depending on their bought Court full of crooks, votes suppressors, and religious fanatics, to let them get away with it.