by • February 29, 2024 • Weekly ColumnComments (0)121

The January 6 Coup Never Ended and Won’t Until Trump is Defeated

Primitive MAGA Movement is a Civilizational Threat at War with the Enlightenment Itself

It’s painfully clear that the failed January 6 insurrection was only the beginning of MAGA’s efforts to overthrow our government. They are engaged in a multi-front war to disfigure our democracy, destabilize our institutions, and remake America in their diseased image.

It’s not difficult to imagine, one year from today, watching Trump, on a gilded balcony, presiding triumphantly over a Pennsylvania Avenue military parade, while waving to the crowd like an all-powerful dictator. The guests of honor might be newly pardoned January 6 domestic terrorists, who are suddenly lionized by the state as liberated political prisoners. Inside President Trump’s balcony would sit various populists, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Argentina’s Javier Milei or maybe even Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

I want to take a moment to say that I believe Joe Biden will win. The incumbent president will be aided by our economic recovery, unpopularity of the GOP’s views on abortion and IVF, as well as Trump’s notable losing streak, where MAGA candidates are soundly rejected by educated voters in key swing state suburbs. Biden’s most glaring weakness, his age, is nearly offset by Trump’s own senior citizen status.

Still, the structurally flawed Electoral College gives Trump a reasonable path to victory, particularly if Biden stumbles or last-minute news events decrease Democratic turnout or sour the country’s mood.

The media too often covers the 2024 horse race, as if this were a normal election, not a desperate fight for the soul of democracy, the preservation of the international world order, the advancement of basic human rights and whether we will succeed in mitigating the most severe impacts of climate change.

With Trump close to securing the GOP nomination, we face an irrational, insufferable MAGA machine that has unrelentingly waged war against American values. We are witnessing a slow-motion coup that has already produced human casualties. Exhibit A is the murder in early February of Walter Lay, who was shot to death in a Tampa dog park by Gerald Declan Radford (nicknamed Dec).

The Tampa Bay Times reported that after Radford found out about Lay’s politics and sexual orientation, he began harassing Lay with homophobic slurs. Albert Darlington, who also walked his dog in the park, recalled, “Whenever Walt would get here, Dec would say, ‘Here comes that [expletive] [homophobic slur].”

The day before he was murdered, Lay made a cellphone video: “So, this morning while I’m walking — and we’re the only two here — he comes up to me and screams at me, ‘You’re going to die, you’re going to die,’ and I asked him to just leave me alone…”

As usual, the LGBTQ community is the canary in the coalmine. The Human Rights Campaign said 325 anti-LGBTQ+ bills had been filed nationwide in first two months of 2024, compared to 503 in all of 2023. A Trump regime, infused with Christian nationalists, would institutionalize homophobia and work to eradicate transgender people by denying them the means in which to transition. They would justify their discrimination, as they always do, by cynically pretending their cruel attacks are about protecting children.

As MAGA seeks to expand its toxic power, an experiment we should warily keep an eye on is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ creation of the Florida State Guard, a taxpayer-funded goon squad that answers only to him. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino described this monstrosity as, “a group of 1,500 unpaid toy soldiers that add a little muscle to the Florida governor’s dictatorial leanings” who “ought to be outfitted in brown shirts.”

Cerabino goes on to write:

The Florida State Guard is more like a cosplay of Y’all Qaeda commandos taking full advantage of the Florida taxpayer-provided ($100 million) hand-to-hand combat lessons.

Some early volunteers to the Florida State Guard quit when they realized they were getting combat training, not disaster relief drills. One of the disillusioned volunteers told the New York Times that the training was more like a “military fantasy camp” than practical instruction on disaster relief.

Trump, a Florida resident, is certainly aware of DeSantis’ efforts to use public money to create a private militia, so I’d expect Trump to export this rancid idea to Washington, if reelected. A platoon of extraconstitutional thugs might come in handy if he declared a fake state of emergency to initiate the Insurrection Act to silence political foes.

The one saving grace of the first Trump term was his incompetence and inability to enact a coherent agenda. This time, the right wing think tanks are creating scary plug-and-play policy platforms that would transform America into an unrecognizable hybrid of a populist police state and repressive theocracy.

The most prominent right-wing blueprint for bulldozing the Constitution is the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025. A New York Times article explains how the zealots behind this plan are so arrogant and extreme, they believe they redefine happiness for American citizens:

Kevin D. Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, writes that the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence should be understood as the “pursuit of blessedness,” that is, that “an individual must be free to live as his creator ordained — to flourish.” The Constitution, he explains, “grants each of us the liberty to do not what we want, but what we ought.” The book ties this argument to the philosophical and legal concept of “ordered liberty,” in which individual rights are weighed against social stability.

This seems more like a project by psychologically disordered fanatics who plan to impose their backward version of religion and achieve their own personal happiness by dominating and controlling the lives of fellow citizens.

Americans had a glimpse of such extremism in Alabama where the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created through IVF are considered children under state law, putting would-be parents in potential legal jeopardy for destroying an embryo. In Texas, we recently witnessed Kate Cox flee to terminate her pregnancy after the state intervened and demanded she give birth to a fetus with a rare birth defect that prevented it from surviving outside the womb.

Project 2025 nationalizes the restrictive Texas and Alabama models for reproductive choice. Their plan urges a future Trump Administration to use the power of the federal government to enforce anti-abortion rules and regulations against women and doctors:

At the Department of Health and Human Services, for instance, the Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force, which the Biden administration created five months before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, must be supplanted by a pro-life task force that ensures that all Health and Human Services divisions “use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children.” The document also asserts that the department should be known as the “Department of Life.”

The Heritage Foundation pretends it is fighting The Deep State, but what it’s really doing is laying the groundwork for installing The Deep Church, which would encroach upon every aspect of our lives, whether we like it or not.  (Thankfully, activists have created the Stop The Coup 2025 project to draw attention to the Heritage Foundation’s insidious plan)

Project 2025 also plans to take a wrecking ball to science and aims to purge our government of experts and replace them with apparatchiks. They particularly aim to dismantle climate science and will disrupt efforts to mitigate global warming.

We see this dangerous anti-science agenda in Florida today. Gov. DeSantis’ quack Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, is playing politics with peoples’ lives by choosing to ignore federal guidelines in his efforts to contain a recent state measles outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that unvaccinated children exposed to measles be isolated for three weeks. Ladapo decided that school attendance of infected children would be up to parents. In Florida, “parents’ rights” has been twisted to allow sick children to spread diseases in the perverse name of liberty.

“This is a state surgeon general saying that he is not going to enforce any of the tenets of public health in the name of freedom,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. “He wants freedom at the expense of putting children in harm’s way.”

Instead of protecting Floridians, Ladapo appears to be auditioning for U.S. Surgeon General in a future Trump Administration. Our local nightmare could potentially be exported to Washington, where this charlatan would be entrusted to dispense medieval medical advice to all Americans.

We cannot underestimate or downplay the unprecedented damage a second Trump term would do to America. MAGA is a violent movement with primitive ideas that has declared war on the Enlightenment itself. There is only one choice – and that is total victory over this monstrosity of a movement.

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