(Thread) Trump’s 4-part plan for destroying democracy and strengthening an oligarchy.
#1: Get the fighters fighting and keep them fighting
Harvard Prof. Levitsky explains that that “hardball tactics” will kill democracy 👇
1/ Keeping everyone fighting increases the polarization.
The more polarized the society, the more people are willing to tolerate “hardball tactics” from their own side
(I did a thread on Levitsky’s hardball tactics theory if you missed it👇
2/ Keeping the fighters fighting means:
💠Keeping the Democrats and Republicans fighting each other.
💠Getting the Democrats to fight each other.
Getting the Democrats to fight each other is easy for someone like Trump, who knows how to exploit the weaknesses on the other side.
3/ Have you noticed that conservatives and authoritarians tend to fall in line behind a leader, while non-authoritarians tend to splinter?
That's because authoritarians seek uniformity and dislike complexity. (For more on that, see @JonHaidt and @karen_stenner's essay in 👇)
4/ Liberals on the other hand embrace complexity and diversity. (Same essay👇)
Authoritarians naturally fall in line behind a strong leader. Non-authoritarians don’t.
I’m old enough to remember when the joke about democratic primaries was that they were circular firing squads.
5/ Expect Democratic infighting to get worse now that we have army of pro-Trump Putin-sponsored bots making trouble and encouraging Democrats to attack their own.
The bots are getting more sophisticated. See:
Lots of liberals will take the bait.
#2 of the plan: Feed the victimization-outrage cycle.
It’s counterintuitive that the GOP see themselves as victims—but they do.
From Yale Prof. @jasonintrator: Dominant groups who believe nature forms a hierarchy feel victimized by equality (expansion of liberal democracy👇)
7/ Thus when “inferior” groups seek equality, the dominant group thinks the inferior group want to displace them at the top.
What’s actually happening is that the oppressed groups want equality.
But if people hold a hierarchal view of nature . .
8/ . . . the demand for equality feels threatening, because they think the people demanding equality are actually trying to achieve power over them.
They feel that they're losing something.
This feeling of loss has been explained by numerous scholars and theorists.
9/ (For example, see Levitsky, Tweet #1, and Hofstadter: )
Here’s how the victimization-outrage cycle works:
💠Trump tells his base they're victims. “Others” are taking what is theirs.
💠They feel that he understands them. . .
💠They view him as brave enough to speak the truth in the face of "political correctness."
💠Trump implements a cruel policy targeting a minority ethnic group, like this one:
💠The left spins with fury and outrage. . .
💠Trump’s base concludes that the left cares more about “others” than "true" Americans and are thus the enemy.
💠Their loyalty to Trump increases.
💠Trump’s base, to help him win, enthusiastically embrace his destructive lies. See my slate article👇 https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/trump-lies-kavanaugh-khashoggi.html …
💠The left becomes even more outraged at the blatant lying; and
💠Trump’s base cheers to see the liberals enraged.
Notice that #1, "Keep the Fighters Fighting" and #2, "The Victimization Outrage Cycle" form their own cycle, each feeding the other.
13/ Part #3 of the plan: Demonstrate Strongman Tactics by Breaking Rules and Defying Norms.
Trump tells his base that he alone can Make America Great Again, where, of course, MAGA means return America to a white dominant patriarchy.
14/ Trump tells his base that the left controls the "media,"and universities. He tells them judges, bureaucrats, and law enforcement (the “deep state”) favor the left and are against him. (He's a victim.)
Thus the left is a formidable enemy that he alone can defeat.
15/ To demonstrate his strength, he breaks rules and norms. His critics spin with outrage. His base cheers.
#1, #2, and #3 are interlocked. Each feeds off the other.
Next #4, he inoculates himself as a lawbreaker by undermining factuality, which in turn undermines rule of law.
16/ In the face of the Mueller probe and other investigations, Trump never devised a traditional legal defense.
Why do I say that? Because he’s constantly changing his story right there in public. As everyone knows, people who change their stories are not credible witnesses. . .
17/ Moreover, he obstructs justice and intimidates witnesses right there in plain sight.
You can’t prepare a traditional legal defense while obstructing justice & intimidating witnesses.
He uses a non-traditional, Putin-style defense.
18/ His defense is to lead us into a post-truth world by undermining factuality, using the propaganda techniques Putin has perfected.
Steve Bannon explains how:
There are lots of tried and true techniques for accomplishing this.
19/ Techniques include:
💠Drench the public with a firehose of falsehoods.
💠Insist that everyone else is lying or presenting “fake” news.
💠Change your story right out there in public and have your media wing (Fox) act like it’s normal.
💠Persuade people that all politicians are corrupt liars (“Clinton and Obama did it too”) Also known as Whataboutism.
If all politicians are corrupt, going after Trump is purely political.
Each side then prefers their own corrupt liar to the enemy liar . . .
21/ "Trump is a liar," they say, "but he’s OUR liar. The democratic candidate is the enemy liar.”
From @TimothyDSnyder Eventually people conclude that the truth is unknowable, and they give up trying to sort truth from lies. It's the ultimate in skepticism and relativism.
22/ Without truth, you can't have rule of law.
These techniques allow Trump to undermine the results of any investigation, or even a jury verdict. He's a victim! It's all a deep state plot!
See? Who needs a traditional legal defense?
These techniques come naturally to Trump.
22/ I haven’t even gotten to voter suppression, but this is long enough.
Note that if you get Democrats angry enough at each other, many of them will stay home and not vote. So we tie back to #1: Keep the Fighters Fighting.
How do we counter this? See⤵️
Sometimes I come back and add comments or questions.
BTW, I like questions, but I can't respond to them all, and often good questions get buried and I don't see them. Last year, when I had 45 followers, I knew you all by name and could always respond.
Anti-hardball just means respond within democratic norms. Calm isn't a requirement :)
I see people saying, "We can't wait until 2020! We must remove Trump now!"
The problem is that there is no constitutional way to do that.
Or people say . . .
. . . "we have to enforce the constitution." Well, that's what all the lawsuits and investigations are about.
The process is slow because that's the nature of democracy. People impatient with the pace are really impatient with democracy.
Autocracy has no constraints . . .
. . . the autocrat can do what he likes with the snap of his fingers.
Democracy, due process, and courts moves slowly. That's the nature of the beast.
The same checks, balance of power, and slowness of process are also making it hard for Trump to destroy our institutions.
The way I deal with the frustration push back through action.
The time I spent in a detention center offering legal assistance to asylum seekers (through @RAICESTEXAS) was therapeutic. The work was hard, but lifted me out of the exhaustion of the news cycle.
Impeachment doesn't mean removal.
Removal requires 2/3 of the Senate. Good luck with that.
The point of impeachment hearings is to put the truth in front of the American people and because well, if you don't impeach Trump, who DO you impeach?
See. . .
Here's an explainer:
I have in-depth discussions of impeachment on my blog. Just go to the index and click on impeachment.
Mostly my threads on impeachment are to tamp down false expectations because these lead to disillusionment, which is dangerous.
All my threads are also blog posts. You can read this one here: https://terikanefield-blog.com/trumps-4-part-plan-for-destroying-democracy-and-strengthening-an-oligarchy/ …
You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.