In the heat of an election, it is easy to lose sight of the larger picture. Regardless of the Mid-Term results, the very existence of the United States is under attack.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the existence of the United States of America as a representative Democracy governed by the rule of law independently of the personal wishes of any man or woman is the current POTUS - Donald Trump.
He is actively installing the infrastructure to support a one person dictatorship within the confines of the current government. This includes a push toward eliminating the freedom to dissent enshrined in the First Amendment. Hillary Clinton suggested recently on the Rachel Maddow show that she thought trump would fire many people after the election; probably for the purpose of replacing them with his supporters. THIS WILL HAPPEN REGARDLESS OF WHICH PARTY DOES WELL IN THE ELECTIONS.
This space has been somewhat choleric on this and associated topics in the belief that inflammatory headlines are obscuring a larger danger.
A review of recent literature on the subject does provide cause for alarm.
'Like ...[some] previous presidents, Trump hasn’t made a blatant lunge for dictatorial power. But his intermittent impulses toward autocracy have made it necessary for advisers, Congress and courts to contain him.
He argued during his campaign for the efficacy of torture and prosecuting his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has threatened media whose coverage he found insufficiently admiring, and tried to suppress the Trump-damning book "Fire and Fury."
He proposed an un-American religious test for immigrants and refugees to ban Muslims; infected the body politic with nepotistic and business-crony appointees; shrugs off Russian meddling in our elections; and discussed a mass roundup-cum-deportation of illegal immigrants. (Arrests of undocumented immigrants surged during Trump’s first year, though not deportations as of yet.)'
The Trump Administration Is Targeting Anti-Trump Facebook Users - By DAVID MEYER September 29, 2017, FORTUNE MAGAZINE
'The Justice Department is trying to force Facebook to disclose information about thousands of people who “liked” a page opposing president Donald Trump.
The DoJ wants to access all the information from the profiles of three activists connected to the “DisruptJ20” protests on the day of Trump’s January inauguration. The protests turned violent in part and, with a couple hundred people having been charged over the Washington, D.C. riots, the authorities are going after online information relating to DisruptJ20.
One of the three being targeted by the DoJ, Emmelia Talarico, was an administrator and moderator for the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, since renamed “Resist This.” According to a legal filing by the D.C. branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the information being sought about that page would include personal details of thousands of other Facebook users who interacted with it.'
trump has weaponized hatred and dissent in an attempt to divide the population.
[By Alan M. Dershowitz JULY 25, 2018]
'President Trump recently threatened to strip the security clearances of top former government officials who criticized his performance at Helsinki with regard to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Were Trump to carry out this threat, he would be violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment. Such a decision, directed only at those who exercised their First Amendment rights to criticize Trump, might be seen by the courts as punitive government action directed at the content of speech. Even threatening to do so might deter critics from exercising their free-speech rights.
Trump’s threat is reminiscent of the decision by General Lewis B. Hershey, who was the director of the Selective Service System during the Vietnam War, to selectively draft critics of the war. In both cases, the government has the authority to act generally by cutting off security clearances or drafting individuals. But it may not have the constitutional power to act selectively against critics who are exercising their rights under the First Amendment.'
Ellis Cose, USA today
'Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog, spent more than a year chasing down one of Trump’s statistics. In a speech before Congress in February 2017, Trump cited a Justice Department study showing “the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.” After repeated requests for information from the Justice Department, Wittes concluded that the president was lying. Justice never generated such a statistic.
Nor, as fact-checkers have confirmed, is there evidence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement liberating towns across America from savage, immigrant gangs.
Such falsehoods have a transparent purpose — one aligned with neo-Nazi propaganda. They are designed to make us believe that hatred, suspicion and dread of marginalized populations are not just normal but noble.
Racism has become a normal occurrence
In March, the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a report documenting a 74 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Trump took office. In June, Scientific American cited a scholarly study suggesting that “Trump’s Islamic-related tweets may be directly linked to an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes over the past few years.” An NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll this May found that 30 percent of Americans see race as the biggest source of division in the country, and that 45 percent think race relations are getting worse.
When our president warns of marauding hordes pouring across the border and refers to brown people seeking asylum as an infestation, it’s no surprise that people are fretting over race relations.
In 2009, I visited Rwanda and talked to men who had participated in the attempted genocide 15 years earlier, many of whom were in prison. Why, I asked, had they tortured and killed their Tutsi neighbors? Some refused to give a direct answer. Others claimed they were wrongly accused. But the typical response among those who answered was that they thought they were doing what the state wanted them to do. They thought they were doing good. They thought they were performing a service by ridding the world of people the government called “cockroaches.”
Thank God we have gotten nowhere near that point in America — yet — although one could argue that putting immigrant children considered part of an infestation in cages is a step in that direction.
A year after the tragic events in Charlottesville, white supremacists seem emboldened. Although part of a street has been named for Heather Heyer, and her accused murderer is in jail charged with murder and federal hate crime violations, we remain a conflicted nation. Indeed, that seems to be part of Trump’s vision for our country, but there is no reason why it should be ours. There is no nobility in falling into Trump’s trap or in normalizing his ethnic animus. Although wallowing in bigotry might help Trump politically, it only diminishes us as individuals and as a people.
Ellis Cose, a fellow of the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement at the University of California and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, is the author of "The End of Anger." He is writing a history of the ACLU and civil liberties in America. Follow him on Twitter: @EllisCose.
Existential threat -
Frequently used to describe the possibility of the extermination or genocide of a population, the term can be used IMHO to describe the systematic annihilation of a country's laws and institutions.
'In the United States the 2016 Presidential Election looms and candidates from all sides are taking to the stage at debates and other venues in an effort to establish their foreign policy credibility. Whether discussing ideas to counter Russian aggression in Europe, how to engage China, or whether to destroy, defeat, or minimize the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a term often discussed is existential threat. While an existential threat is generally defined as something that is a threat to existence, this is imprecise and deserves further explanation. A more detailed definition could point to a threat being existential if it involves a group with the capability to permanently change another group’s values and the way it governs itself against the latter’s will.
Two examples where a group permanently changed another group’s values and the way they govern, against their will, occurred during World War 2. In this case, the Allies destroyed the 25-year-old Nazi movement in Germany and the 76-year-old Imperialism movement in Japan. To make this happen took tremendous military force. Not counting the Allied Forces, the United States employed 16,112,566 military members and two nuclear weapons to achieve this end. Today, a truly existential threat to the United States would entail another country being able to permanently take away its freedom and change its democratic form of government, regardless of the preference of the citizenry.'