Revelatur Newsletter - June 12, 2021
How Progressives Stop Losing
Welcome back dear readers! Unfortunately the hypotheses we’ve advanced about Republican strategy get confirmed every day by their actions. We get no joy from being right -- we want you to take seriously the emerging hypotheses we present and join us in doing something about our national situation before it’s too late.
In today’s first piece, “The Never Ending Coup,” we put a point on the continuing program of the right to subvert the democratic functioning of our government and replace it with an authoritarian regime regardless of majoritarian sentiment. In the closing article, “Program to Preserve American Democracy,” we outline a path back towards majority rule and a strengthened democracy that does not rely on the Democratic Party to lead the way, and is not propelled solely by antipathy towards our misguided fellow citizens. In that piece we posit a “Declaration for Democracy” we hope can serve as a rally point for the energy required to stop the right’s advance and enable a continuing march towards the better future Americans have always sought and fought for.
The Never Ending Coup
The coup was January 6th. The coup is now. The coup is ongoing until such a time as it isn’t.
The coup was a coup even if the plotters didn’t get what they wanted, for now. This wasn’t tourists, this wasn’t bloodless, this wasn’t an aberration. It was a coup, failed for now, a day we will mark as a beginning, a midpoint, but almost certainly not an ending. It was a coup, an insurrection, an attack, an affront, an assault, terrorism, traitorous. It was expected, surprisingly unsurprising, all but inevitable yet perfectly avoidable.
It was a gallows erected on the steps of The Capitol by a red-hat clad mass of MAGAs, it was Senators rushing through tunnels to escape the mob, it was people calling their loved ones not sure if they were going to make it, gas masks and impromptu barricades and Trump 2020 flags and tasers and fire extinguishers, it was broken glass and blood and gas and death. The coup was still a coup, despite not achieving its maximal aims that day. The coup was inexplicable slowness in response from the National Guard, it was warning signs ignored by Capitol Police, by the FBI, the coup was Republican members of Congress still voting against certification, it was Josh Hawley’s raised fist, Ted Cruz’ Stop the Steal speeches, it was every Sunday morning news show where ‘questions’ about the election floated in the air, mostly unchallenged, a festering pustule of lies and provocation that filled and ballooned and then burst and spilled through the marbled hallways, down the front steps, across the country.
The coup begins of course with Donald J. Trump, a man who has never once been held accountable for any of the nearly countless crimes and transgressions he’s committed, a loser who failed upwards for decades -- in a manner which offers a damning counterargument about a merit-based society, about the rule of law -- into the most powerful position in the world, a moral black hole, a grasping void of selfishness and vulgarity and hate and greed, mired in fear that the loss of the safeguards of office would at long last bring something like a reckoning. The coup was Trump’s coup, it was inspired and directed from the White House, Stop the Steal was financed by Trump supporters, it was Trump flags waving through the tear gas, it was Trump’s name the crowds shouted as they smashed windows and smashed faces, it was Trump all the way. It was Trump’s speech that rang out the final call to action.
The coup was and is Trump, even now, as months into the Biden Administration, he continues to call the 2020 election the “Crime of the Century”, and he organizes for future disruption and violence. The coup is all Trump, and paradoxically, not about Trump at all, really. If Donald Trump evaporated from this dimension today, the coup, unfortunately, would not similarly disappear.
The coup did not end with Donald Trump’s quarter-hearted video message for everyone to go home, video wherein he also professed his undying love for a group of people who’d recently defecated inside the Capitol and tried to kill members of Congress. The coup did not end when the insurrectionists casually strolled out of the building, holding hands with police officers. The coup did not end with FBI press conferences touting arrests. It did not end on January 6th.
It never ended, the coup is the core animating principle of the revanchist far right extremist criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party.
The coup is now, because the right wing cannot seize and maintain power through any other means. The coup is the ongoing promulgation of the Big Lie, the coup is making sure you can’t tell one Lie from another. Make no mistake, Republicans aren’t spreading the Big Lie to relitigate the past, they’re laying the foundation for the future, a future in which a white supremacist minority rules in perpetuity, a future in which elections that don’t go the right way are automatically cast as suspect, a future in which Democrats aren’t seated for Senate seats they won, in which a Republican controlled House refuses to certify a Democrat President, a future in which only Republican victories are legitimate. Republicans aren’t afraid of Trump, they’re not bending the knee to Trump, they’re not confused or constrained or controlled. They’re deliberate, they’re systematic, and they’re winning.
Where they can, they codify the coup through legislation, Georgia, Florida, in 48 of 50 states Republicans are putting together legislative attempts to block the will of the majority. The GOP-led a filibuster of the proposed Jan. 6 commission.
Two thirds of Republican supporters think the election was stolen. Whether Republicans believe any of what they say is immaterial, the effect, as will all authoritarian efforts, is to make the truth indistinguishable from the lies, to place loyalty to the party, to the leader, above even loyalty to reason. The coup is now, and they are winning.
The coup is now, until such a time as we stop it. Until we hold accountable the people who organized, financed, and incited an armed attack on the seat of government. Some of those people are sitting in Congress right now. They voted against an investigation, because they took part in the insurrection, even if they didn’t break a window or bludgeon a police officer. Mitch McConnell is just as much a supporter of terrorism and sedition as any, and in fact, his position is, because of the power, because of the sworn oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States, from all enemies.
The enemies, of course, are inside the gates, they’re inside the house, they’re rummaging through the cabinets and putting their feet up. The Republicans are the Coup Party. The coup is the continued existence of a major political party predicated on white nationalism and terrorism and illiberalism and authoritarianism. The coup is coming from the Capitol, from Fox News, from Newsmax, from every state legislature feverishly working behind closed doors, on the weekends, to cement their minority rule.
The coup will not end unless we stop it.
There is no independent mechanism in place to arrest this furious descent into madness and violence. Intransigent Democrats are two steps behind the asymmetric warfare waged against this country. Republicans are planning to invalidate the next Presidential election, and Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema think they can get ten of them to go along with a voting rights bill? These feckless Senators would rather blather about comity than address reality: there are no good Republicans. Axiomatically. It’s a fucking logic statement at this point. If you are comfortable applying that appellate, ipso ipso ipso, you’re comfortable with attacks on democracy, you’re comfortable with the space laser stuff and the kids in cages and the tear gassing protestors.
The coup will not end unless we stop it.
Democrats are wasting time, and time is one thing we don’t have much in the way of. The right wing assault on democracy is accelerating. Those people who thought things would just go back to normal when Trump lost were and are living in denial. Ending the filibuster is the bare minimum. It’s not even the equivalent of putting out the fire. It’s the equivalent of locating the little hammer to break the glass on the fire extinguisher. The beginning of the beginning of the beginning.
Hell, getting rid of the filibuster and passing HR1 is still really only the beginning of the beginning. The Supreme Court is still hopelessly stacked with conservatives and the Senate is still deeply unrepresentative undemocratic bullshit, and Republicans still enjoy natural advantages in the electoral college that have put popular vote losers into the most powerful office in the world multiple times in my lifetime.
The coup is still ongoing. The next fantastical chimerical point in the calendar for the revanchist chud militias is August, when Trump will be reinstated through magical means yet to be determined.
It’s not going to go away on its own. We can’t just ignore what’s happening right before our eyes. These right wing forces have their own media landscapes and they don’t organize their political violence based on whether or not the editorial at Salon or Huffington Post is worked up about their moves.
The coup won’t be stopped by a strongly worded letter from House Democrats.
The coup will not end unless WE stop it. Before the election, groups across the country. Heated conference calls about how to protect the election. Should we show up? Should we give these people air? Isn’t a confrontation what they really want, anyway?
Well let me be the first to tell you, we fucked up. On January 6th, we the people should have showed up, because it has been made clear, repeatedly, that the standard institutional guardrails are insufficient, that the last best hope for our democracy lies in the first three words in the Constitution.
We the people.
Imagine instead if they’d had to go through 100,000 of us to get there? That standing between their frothy mouthed right wing speechifying and flag waving mass, they’d found an implacable wall, shoulder to shoulder, a cross generational, cross-class, cross-everything united around a simple call: not today you fascist motherfuckers.
The coup is ongoing. The coup is now. The coup will not end through embarrassment or moral suasion or tut tutting or any of the usual half measures and half-heartedness. It will end when the right wing revanchist is thoroughly trounced, when every mechanism at our disposal. The coup will end with marching, it will end. It will end only when WE end it.
It’s not guaranteed to fail.
The coup is now. The coup will continue until such a time as WE stop it.
Program to Preserve American Democracy
Look folks, things are grim and worse than they appear through the common lens of the press and ruling class. A combination of wishful thinking, cowardice, ignorance and deliberate obfuscation is hiding the fact that American democracy is a dying idea largely unsupported by the moneyed interests -- and being actively attacked by one of two major political parties and more than one third of the population. Winning the Presidency and controlling Congress is not us winning -- it is us staving off total defeat while we negotiate for a cease-fire.
We get it -- democracies in general, and the American democracy in particular -- have always been reluctant combatants in the big fights, before rallying in the end. But collective action and large scale sacrifice was required for victory in each of them, and is required now. Neither President Biden, the Democratic Party, nor our institutions, will save the U.S. from going down with barely a whimper. Stop waiting for them, your neighbors, or divine intervention. As Sophocles said: "No good e'er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne'er helps the men who will not act.”
What does the journey to save American Democracy look like? First, we’ve got to come to agreement on what we stand for -- our principles. To simply stand against Republicans, authoritarianism, and neoliberalism -- does not generate the right or sufficient energy to prevail. We remember fondly the “Arsenal of Democracy” World War I slogan, but probably not the “Stop the Mad Brute” anti-German poster of the same period, right? It is also important to lay down what we really want beyond simply overcoming the reactionary forces now plaguing us --because it is just this lack of faith in and focus on the future that has opened the door to creeping authoritarianism.
Here’s what we stand for, which can hopefully serve as a rally point and organizing principle:
Declaration for Democracy: “We the People of the United States: affirm life; embrace our civic responsibilities; and declare our support for Democracy, the United States as a democracy, the inalienable rights of people, and the enumerated Constitutional rights of American citizens. To honor those on whose shoulders we stand, preserve that which we have built, and leave the world a better place than we found it, we will defend all transgressions of our principles to the last full measure of devotion.”
Let’s examine our declaration.
The shoulders we stand on: first, the untold millions of people who advanced the cause by simply doing the right thing, whether that was just raising a good family, resisting tyranny of kings and tyrants, or refraining from using power when doing so was wrong. Paradoxically to some, we owe the English heavily in this regard, as they led the way towards representative government and constraints on the use of power, and led the charge against chattel slavery. Second, those who made defined contributions to American Democracy, including Salem Poor, Phyllis Wheatley, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Lyndon Johnson, and Stacey Abrams. Finally, those who served without public recognition in the cause to which we also now devote ourselves, with special consideration to those who were injured or lost their lives so that we might have a better world.
The value we seek to preserve: things are not perfect, far from it, even in the last best hope of earth -- and they were never so despite the revisionist history of white supremacists. They are downright dreadful in much of the world. But in the aggregate, people are freer, live longer, healthier lives, fear less violence from each other and their governments, have more physical safety, have more agency and more opportunity to express themselves than the millions who came before us did. Thanks to previous social capital built, technology, representative government, democracy, the state of health care and its trends, international organizations, rule of law, and the signal contributions of the United States as global leader -- we can climb higher now and in the future than we could without all these things. To willingly give them up due to collective frustration, depression, ignorance or religious belief is to turn our backs on all the good work, sacrifice, endured pain and successful striving of our own species – it is in fact a collective suicide and a type of future genocide. These have not been the values of any religion, any serious ideology, or of America -- why are we so willingly accepting them now?
The better world we seek includes all of the following for all people -- now: democracy; equality of opportunity; equality of restraint; dignity; compassion; justice and just outcomes; freedom from coercion and discrimination; lawfully bounded power. Am I describing a utopia? You bet. Why wouldn’t we seek that which we want and deserve? Why should we instead eat the dystopia shoved down our throats by those suffering from collective psychosis? That is the height of cowardice and inconsistent with the spirit and sacrifice of those who came before us. To accept dystopia and fail to strive for utopia is itself an injustice.
The things we’re willing to do: resolve to prevail; execute our civic responsibilities; inspire our allies; persuade the ignorant; buttress the faltering; fight and, if necessary, perish. We may appear to be in a post-truth, post-accountability, post-honor, post-commitment world -- but this is an illusion, a deliberately constructed ‘gain of function matrix’ created by a combination of neoliberalism, late-stage capitalism, evangelical eschatology and political opportunism. Yet let us not compound this historical, suicidal, nihilistic heresy with our own naïve belief that “the moral arc of history bends towards justice” on its own — it bends towards equilibrium on its own, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so averred. The bending towards justice that does occur over time is not teleological, but, according to King and confirmed by our analysis -- the result of deliberate human action (also according to King, God’s mercy plays a key role -- but we could not confirm this through analysis!). We’re willing to join the long line of people who bent the arc -- with courage and in full recognition of the potential near-term futility of our efforts. The Revolutionary War, Civil War, and both World Wars started badly and looked grim for the ultimate victors – but this did not deter our forebears, and the grimness of our current situation must not deter us.
How we achieve and sustain victory:
Reset our priorities and articulate our principles. Our first order of business is putting people, not the economy, at the center of our universe. The current ridiculous discussion of the worker shortage with its robber baron proclamations that we need to cut off support to citizens to force them back to work, and our reluctance to strike as something somehow un-patriotic, indicate how much we place the economy as the God before whom we lie prostrate. Thus the Declaration of Democracy -- which we must “socialize” and leverage to rally energy.
Build a Coalition, Rapidly. We must coalesce scattered supporters into an organic, learning, adaptive movement that bridges, combines energies and jointly prioritizes the activities of all liberal, Democratic and progressive organizations. In this fight to the death, anyone who is not a Republican Party supporter needs to be embraced and equipped -- the good guys outnumber the bad guys but many of them are fearful and we need to reorient their fear from the status of their 401Ks to the existential threat that could render their 401Ks worthless in a heartbeat.
Signal Intent to Power and Money. We’re in charge, we’ll do what it takes -- and this takes the form of public declarations, pressure on our Representatives, pressure on our workplaces, joining progressive organizations, focused economic boycotts and limited general strikes. Communicate to the Supreme Court that we do not intend to honor and follow any unjust rulings they proclaim. Look, Republicans are fueled by money, dark money, and the people that money can buy. If you cut off the head of that snake, bye-bye Republicans. Also, we must communicate that not only are we getting off the treadmills they built for us, we’re coming after them unless they get on the right side of history. Their days of impunity are over.
Act. Conduct general strikes, massive economic boycotts, transportation strikes; participative democracy movements; resistance to injustice regardless of source. This latter is the tough one, but as we noted in detail in a previous article, the Supreme Court has been wrong on almost everything over history, and as an institution is reactionary and supportive of power, coercion and control over human rights. If they make an unjust ruling it is our civic responsibility* to nullify it by our actions. In fact, unjust Supreme Court rulings will serve perfectly as the trigger or threshold for some of these proposed actions.
*When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Declaration of Independence.
Use the power we already have and pass laws that matter to Democracy -- such as an analog to Germany’s law against Incitement to Hatred (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volksverhetzung); and the proposed “For the People Act” (H.R. 1: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/1/text). Roll over Manchin and Sinema with a steamroller if necessary -- an elected Democratic official who doesn’t support Democracy deserves nothing but contempt and approbation. Democratic office holders -- stop worrying about your chances for reelection. What difference would it make to hold office in an authoritarian state anyway?
To fail to take up the fight is to dishonor those who came before us and doom those yet to come, yet ultimately to dishonor ourselves.