I have recognized this ugly truth for many reasons, most recently because of what happened in my home state of Florida on May 6, 2021, exactly four months after the attack on our national capitol, itself an omen of what the future might hold.
What happened on May 6?
It’s the day that Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the completely unnecessary Donald J. Trump voter suppression bill. Not really called that, of course, but that’s what it is. That’s the sort of thing dictators do. And I fear our governor and his boss in Mar-a-Lago admire dictatorial tactics.
This was an unnecessary bill in response to THE BIG LIE. Unnecessary unless the goal is to keep certain people from voting. That’s the sort of thing dictators do.
DeSantis also used the signing as a campaign event, quite possibly breaking the law since he was transacting state business. But that’s the sort of thing dictators do.
He did this relatively early in the day. Why? Well, apparently it had been coordinated with the Fox News morning show. And Fox was the only media outfit permitted into the event. Even though we are supposedly a sunshine state. It isn’t sunshine if most of the rays are filtered. But, then, curbing the press is something dictators do.
We’re not used to thinking about our democracy going down the tube. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to imagine. It’s easy to assume it could never happen here. It’s comforting to think that good men and women will rise and save it. It’s nice knowing that the people will never allow it.
And all those rationalizations are bunk. You might want to think about other communities who passively went along with the first steps of Hitler, Mussoilini and a host of other dictators who rose to power on the backs of lies and fear and public acquiescence.
Look at the millions of supposedly good Americans who have bought into THE BIG LIE and will follow blindly an incompetent but ruthless leader.
Including the cowardly Republican party in Florida which is acting like a royal court to the man in Tallahassee and the one in south Florida. Indeed, an op-ed in the morning paper by a Republican legislator defended the many awful steps taken by the party by saying, “Because we can.” Yes, that’s their justification. Now this was in response to an editorial which accused them of passing terrible laws because they can. But then they respond to the attack with the proudful justification of yup, that’s the reason. In other words, they have the power and will use it to advance their cause—not your cause. That’s what dictators do.
I’m not sure we can stop this. The only way I can see is if we the people take action. But not by what we’ve been doing.
It can’t be done by me writing a weekly blog to a handful of people who think.
It can’t be done by us saying all the right things to people who also are saying all the right things. Convincing people who are already thinking straight to think straight might feel fuzzy good but doesn’t change a single thing. Preaching to the choir won’t accomplish much.
It can’t be done by the Democratic party continuing to work in its traditional ineffectual way, starting with the same old approach to selecting gubernatorial and other candidates that fails to find the most talented and charismatic choices.
It can only be done by convincing everyone to vote and getting enough registered Republicans to vote Democratic as a means to reclaim their own party.
I don’t know how to accomplish this.
I am convinced, however, that the only way the Republican party will change is if the vast majority of the candidates endorsed by Trump lose in either the primaries or the general election. And courageous Republicans like Liz Cheney retain their seats. After all, politicians will pivot their beliefs to anything they think will get them elected.
And if it doesn’t happen in both 2022 and 2024, I think the country will be lost.
Then, if we’re not scared already, we’d better become so.