By Robert A. Vella
The two deadliest wars in U.S. history were the Civil War (640,000 to 700,000 deaths) which was fought to preserve the Union against Southern secession and against the institution of slavery, and World War II (405,000 to 420,000 American deaths) which was fought to stop the fascist threat to the free world posed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The number of Americans killed in its third most deadly war, World War I (over 117,000), has been far surpassed by the coronavirus pandemic which has now killed more than 165,000 Americans.
How do COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. relate to America’s Civil War and its involvement in WWII? The answer is readily apparent from an understanding of ideology and history. The Confederacy broke away from the United States because it felt that the country (i.e. the Northern majority) was mobilizing politically against the immorality of institutionalized white supremacy; and, it was determined to maintain it in the plantation-dominated Southern economy. Similarly, fascism and militarism erupted in Europe and Japan during the tumultuous aftermath of WWI which provided political opportunities for authoritarian interests motivated by economic exploitation and racial purity. Consequently, fledgling democracies were destroyed from within and from hostile foreign aggressors; and, an inhuman wave of ethnic cleansing campaigns (e.g. the Rape of Nanking and The Holocaust) soon followed.
This isn’t just opinion, nor is it hyperbole. This is factual history, and it is happening all over again right before our very eyes. Donald Trump and the Republican Party are today analogous to those Southern slave owners who rejected democratic governance in 1861 and to those fascist upstarts in Italy, Japan, Spain, and Germany during the 1920s-30s who nearly destroyed it. All authoritarians are inherently capable of the most horrific crimes because they respect no authority other than their own. That’s why there is no such thing as a “good” dictator. As Lord Acton warned us a long time ago:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
So, America has one chance left to save democracy and itself from fascism and racism – that is, the 2020 election. If it fails, the road forward will mirror the terrible past. As they say, history repeats.
Before getting to today’s news, I highly recommend reading an illuminating exposé on the internal battles between President Trump and the U.S. Intelligence Community (see: Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies – Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. An investigation from the magazine uncovered what happened), plus yesterday’s opening segment of The Rachel Maddow Show which brilliantly detailed how brutal authoritarians hold onto power despite opposition from the majority of the populace.
This past spring, President Donald Trump began a full-fledged assault on voting by mail, tweeting, retweeting and railing about massive fraud and rigged elections with scant evidence.
Then the Republican apparatus got to work backing up the president.
In the weeks since, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have taken to the courts dozens of times as part of a $20 million effort to challenge voting rules, including filing their own lawsuits in several battleground states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nevada. And around the time Trump started musing about delaying the election last week, aides and outside advisers began scrambling to ponder possible executive actions he could take to curb mail-in voting — everything from directing the postal service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day.
The actions can only make so much difference before November — elections are mostly run at the state and local level, and are subject to congressional authority. And some fellow Republicans are warning the president privately and publicly that attempts to restrict mail-in ballots could actually hurt the GOP in November, scaring Republicans from voting remotely even if they also refuse to vote in person during a pandemic. New polling has fueled these concerns.
But the flurry of activity is buoying the president in other ways. Namely, it has allowed Trump to present himself as a fighter on an issue that many of his most fervent supporters have taken up in the last few months.
From: The 34 wildest lines from Donald Trump’s wildly inaccurate coronavirus press conference [where he railed against vote by mail, the post office, COVID-19 statistics and testing, racial injustice protests, China, criticism of his recent unconstitutional executive orders, Democrats, opinion polls, and Obamacare, while praising Brazil’s authoritarian leader Jair Bolsonaro and suggesting that he might give his presidential nomination acceptance speech at the Civil War battlefield site of Gettysburg]
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Late Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room to give one of his semi-regular updates on the fight against coronavirus. And even by the remarkably low standard for truth that he has set in office, it was a doozy.
“They’re all at least pretty bad, but that was one of the worst Trump press conferences in a while from a truth standpoint,” tweeted CNN fact checker Daniel Dale. “Fast and furious lying.”
I went through the transcript of Trump’s remarks — and his Q&A with reporters — and picked out the lines you really need to see. They’re below.