The Strange Case Of The American Autocracy That Didn’t Happen — Yet

by Shelt Garner

A funny thing happened on the way to American autocracy: the man history shone on to be the agent of destruction for American democracy turned out to be a big old goober. All the macro historical forces were aligned for 240 years of liberal democracy to be smothered.

And then it didn’t happen.

Pretty much Donald Trump, by being a huge ding-dong gave us some insight into the interaction between Great Men and macro trends of history. Trump was not a Great Man, he was simply an avatar for macro trends. America just barely dodged a historical bullet because Trump, personally, could not do the one thing history had assigned him to do: kill American democracy.

I keep trying to think up ways to grade Trump on an autocratic curve and I keep failing to think of anything. Would you believe that idiot Mussolini was more of a Great Man than Trump ever was. Trump, in the end, was all talk. What’s more he gave the Establishment two things it wanted from him: young hack MAGA judges and a huge plutocrat tax cut…and then he failed everyone else who supported him using any other metric.

While Trump continues to have enormous sway over the Republican Party and the MAGA New Right base, Establishment Republicans are growing really tired of his shock and jibe. They got what they wanted from him, now they want Ron DeSantis to finish the job.

But what job do they want DeSantis to do?

Ron DeSantis

In general, Republicans now simply want to use the quirks of the Constitution to establish permanent white Christian minority rule. I don’t think they’ve thought beyond that — they just want to “control” the growing power of women and minorities. They want power and as much money as they can get through continued smash-and-grab tax “reform.”

And, yet, there’s a problem.

Such things don’t happen in a vacuum. Once it’s conventional wisdom that Republicans have, using the quirks of our creaking Constitution, form follows function and they’re going to start abusing the fuck out of the complete lack of oversight.

And that’s where things get tricky. Will we peacefully transition into an autocratic managed democracy or will we descend into civil war?

At the moment, I think it will all happen peacefully, because the Establishment has a vest interest in the sheeple being complacent. Gradually, however, as we grow more and more fascist in our governance, even the Establishment may live to regret how easily they gave up.

It’s pretty bad when I start thinking that the one thing I don’t want — a civil war — is the better of two bad options because at least there’s a chance the “good guys” will win.

My Captain, My Captain

But back to what’s going on with our undead liberal democracy. Because Trump could not do even the most basic of autocratic power plays in 2020, we are now an autocracy without an autocrat. If you know what you’re looking at, it’s all very surreal. There are a huge number of Americans who want an autocracy so much that they think Fox News is “too liberal.” They are so frightened in the abstract about “Cancel Culture” and “Critical Race Theory,” that they embrace the idea of a fascist state coming to America.

Marinate on that for a second.

We have to admit to ourselves that we’re fucked. We’re totally, completely fucked. Soon enough, voting won’t matter and we either accept that or we have a civil war to make voting matter again. Ugh. I hate even having to think about that. But that’s what we face.

The United States is careening towards a huge historical clusterfuck because Trump, chosen by the Fates to transition us into an autocracy, wasn’t a Great Man, he was just a lazy idiot.

Enjoy these few years — months? — of living in a liberal democracy. Soon enough, that may seem rather quaint.

What Was Trump’s January 6th Autogolpe Plot?

by Shelt Garner

The bonkers thing about what happened on January 6th is Trump was so fucking lazy and stupid as an autocrat that he waited to the very last moment to attempt an autogolpe (self-coup). Any other autocrat would have wrapped up the theft of the 2020 election before it was even held by firing whomever stood in the way of an indictment of Joe Biden.

It is testament to what lazy, moronic brat Trump is that even a rando like me kept thinking up the most obvious ways to steal the 2020 election and Trump just could not comprehend how to do it. The political conditions existed for Trump to steal the election without an autogolpe right up until the point where the election was officially called for Biden.

January 6th

The Plot
First, given what we know of how Trump thinks, I doubt there were all that many specific elements to the plot. Probably, Trump knew what he wanted — stay in power no matter what — and he just ranted about that around his toadies so much that they began to use the spaghetti method to see what stuck. For some reason, a number of opportunities for Trump to pull the trigger on the “just say it was corrupt and I’ll take care of the rest” idea — and he didn’t do it. This is is very, very weird. Why he would choke simply because of the prospect of mass resignations is very strange.

But back to the plot.

I suspect it went something like this — in a general way, Trump and his co-conspirators created the conditions for a mob to attack the Capitol in hopes that when Trump told them to attack they would and this would either buy them time or force Pence’s hand on the certification of Electors or both.

When you have a very powerful brat to deal with as normal human being, your main goal is to buy time so you don’t have to deal with their disappointment. The theory Trump had was every moment the election wasn’t certified by Congress was a moment they might be able to somehow win.

But more specifically, they probably had a two pronged approached to their autogolpe — neutralize Pence and get the election thrown into Congress where Trump and Rudy could muddy the waters on a political level so much that they might, just might, get within shouting distance of winning that way.

If they could just put enough pressure on Pence so that he refused to certify the election — even though that isn’t within his power to do — then they would throw everything at Congress. All they needed was to get the extremely poorly written Electoral Count Act involved and all the bullshit agitprop techniques that were so successful for them over the years would take care of the rest.

Once they got past the huge personal obstacle of Pence, and they got the Electoral Count Act involved, their next goal would be to get the election thrown into the House and Senate. If the House picks POTUS, then each state’s delegation has just one vote.

And that would be how Trump would “win” in such a way that gave Fox news a media narrative that would simply be Bush V. Gore Redux. Get over it, libs, you lost, Trump is YOUR president, too, (again.)

An unknown is what was Jim Jordan’s involvement in this plot. Why did Trump in the waning days of his administration give Jorden, of all people, the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Was there something specific that Jorden did over and above the call of duty in this particular plot that Trump felt forced his hand? Does Jorden know something that no one else does? He got the medal AFTER January 6th, so it sure does sound like Trump was both thanking him and making sure stayed loyal in the future, no matter what.

I do believe there was a specific, coordinated attempt to stage an autogolpe on January 6th. What I don’t think happened was it was all that well thought out or had any specific sequence of events they thought they could pull off, which was why it failed.

They just wanted to buy time, get the election thrown into Congress and then attack the process with everything they had. It’s possible that some very smart, well educated people actually did have a specific goal in mind — get the House to pick the president — but they failed because of how stupid, lazy and disorganized the leader of the plot — Trump — was.

All I know is we won’t be as lucky next time.

What Are Trump, Mark Meadows & Their Merry Band Of Seditious Idiots Up To?

by Shelt Garner

The core group of people who surrounded Mad King Trump fling off so much bullshit at any one moment that it’s very difficult to figure out what the fuck they’re talking about sometimes. But, just recently, former Trump COS Mark Meadows make it sound like Trump was plotting some sort of return sooner rather than later.

I struggle to figure out what’s going on.

Either it’s all bullshit meant to make Trump feel better, or they’re actively planning to take advantage of the potential instability caused by Cyber Ninjas “proving” that Trump “won” Arizona. If it’s the latter, then they’re actively stetting the stage for a national version of January 6th.

Here’s how it would go down.

Sometime soon — in August, maybe? — Cyber Ninjas comes out with a preliminary report that says Trump won Arizona. Trump spooges his pants and won’t shut the fuck up about how this PROVES he won the 2020 election, even if it’s just one state. This sets of a cascading set of events where Red State legislatures across the country decide to hold “Decertification Conventions” meant to appease the MAGA base. Of course, soon enough, because of Trump screaming at them, these conventions turn into “Nullification Conventions” and, soon enough, once they realize that you can’t really nullify the results of a presidential election — Secessionist Conventions.

Then Trump really does do the ultimate ask the elected members of his violent personality cult — are you going to join my new Trumplandia government?

That is kind of the absolute, absolute worst case scenario.

More likely, all of this bullshit would be used to as part of a greater media narrative for the 2022 mid-terms. They might tell the MAGA base to vote so Trump the “real” president could become Speaker and, as such, be put into the line of secession to cause who knows mischief.

The point is — the moment Cyber Ninjas comes out with their preliminary report, all hell might break loose. Or not. Everything is very much up in the air at this point.

Pretty much anything might happen. The key issue is, could Trump unto himself, be catalyst enough to force a secession crisis if he isn’t “re-instated.”

Modern Antebellum America

by Shelt Garner

I inadvertently caused a liberal I know to get REALLY worked up when I made the case that lulz, nothing matters when it comes to the Cyber Ninjas “audit” of the Arizona presidential vote. He started to yell, correctly, about what a sham it all was.

Once I got him calmed down, I said he was right, but it didn’t matter — the entire point of the “audit” was, at a minimum, to give MAGA New Right cocksuckers the ability to say, “I guess we’ll never know” who won the 2020 election. But that’s just the baseline — what they really want is some sort of “proof” that they might use to “decertify” enough states that they can start to talk about reinstating Trump early.

Now, if you really want to talk a sooner-rather-later civil war, then Trump finally gets some traction about this very thing and MAGA state legislatures hold “Nullification Conventions” that become “Secession Conventions” and away we go.

But the case could be made that if that hyper-dystopian scenario doesn’t happen, then all this bullshit in Arizona would be the thing Trump would use to shiv House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when it comes to who will be the Republican Speaker of the House in 2023.

Trump says that Arizona “proves” that he’s “still president” and, as such, he should be in the line of succession for POTUS. He gets it, impeaches both Biden and Harris and then tells Senate Democrats — push Biden and Harris out of office, or we have a civil war.

And THAT doesn’t even begin to address that if we avoid all that bullshit that we have the final, absolute certain future history of a civil war staring in the the general late 2024 to early 2025 timeframe because of a certification crisis.

So, we’re fucked.

But if you look at macro trends, this was going to happen. It was just a matter of the exact sequence of events. And the case could be made that Trump is SUCH a FUCKING IDIOT that of all the possible would-be fascists to cause a civil war, Trump is the weakest of the bunch as long as he’s around. It’s when something happens to knock him out of the equation and we have to deal with Josh Hawley, Mike Pompeo or Tom Cotton coming for our liberal democracy that we have a serious, serious problem.

Our history of the future isn’t written yet, though. Anything could happen. We may somehow, miraculously dodge the civil war bullet, but thing’s aren’t looking so great.

Only time will tell.

The U.S. Military Is The Wildcard When America Faces Its Existential Choice Of Autocracy Or Civil War

by Shelt Garner

While ostensibly Trump’s soft, chaotic coup attempt after election night 2020 was as close as we’ve ever come to a real coup in our nation’s history, it could have been far, far worse. The thing about Trump is, people like me constantly give him a level of guile and willingness to do basic autocratic things that he obviously doesn’t have.

In short, with just the barest amount of autocratic work Trump could have easily stolen the 2020 election. It was his to take. But what he didn’t do was far more astonishing than the idiotic things he did do. He never invoked the Insurrection Act, even though he wanted to and his followers came to believe it was magic coup pixie dust — which it isn’t.

He didn’t think up some reason to arrest Hunter of Joe Biden at any number of critical moments in 2020. He ranted about a lot autocratic moves all throughout 2020 and early 2021, but for the large part he sat on his hands and let the natural democratic momentum associated with an American election to do its thing.

The failsafe during Trump’s rhetorical and half hearted coup attempt in late 2020 and early 2021 was, of course, the U.S. Military. Two things are absolute about the U.S. Military — it’s apolitical to a fault and it won’t follow an illegal order. Those two things, given how obvious and ham-handed Trump was post election night 2020 made the endgame to Trump’s long term soft coup a forgone conclusion — failure.

But we may not be as lucky next time. Whenever the next MAGA New Right POTUS is elected, he or she is likely to make sure that their actions are “legal” and, as such, the military won’t have anything to worry about.

Where things grow frightening is is a MAGA New Right POTUS bungles that transition — or Trump himself jumps the gun and tries to turn us into autocracy. So, you have one scenario where the U.S. Military at last steps in sometime around January 2025 because the country implodes on a political level because MAGA controls Congress and refuses to certify a Joe Biden win. (Yes, there is the throw-the-election-into-the House gambit that MAGA might try to keep things legal, but let’s say they don’t manage to pull that off.)

The other scenario is we have a nullification crisis that turns into a secession crisis after Cyber Ninjas “prove” Trump “won” Arizona. Then it would be the Biden Administration having to put down a MAGA New Right insurrection. In a sense, if it’s inevitable that we have a civil war, I’d rather it happen sooner rather than later so at least the U.S. Military will be under the control of democratic forces.

But what the U.S. Military ultimately decides to do when we’re faced with the existential choice of autocracy or civil war may be it — it may be the even that transitions us into something different than we’re used to. If the American military has to step in and we no longer enjoy civilian rule (acting President James Mattis, anyone?) then the United States really will be just another country, just another republic that has transitioned to its final form of empire.

This Haunts Me: Did Trump Know Marie Yovanovitch’s Life Was In Danger?

by Shelt Garner

Of all the shitty things Trump did while in office, the thing I still find myself thinking about now and again is the whole Marie Yovanovitch situation. She was standing in the way of Rudy’s nefarious plans with her anti-corruption drive and someone who was pretty close to Trump — Lev Parnas — was in contact with a shadowy group of people who were out to get her.

That’s why she left Ukraine so abruptly in the dead of night — the embassy thought she was going to get murdered if she stayed.

So, you have a situation where a bunch of idiot thugs in Ukraine are stalking Marie Yovanovitch with a direct link to the White House. Is it possible that Trup knew — and was directing — this planned attack? It’s very easy to imagine a situation where Trump was Trump and he said something about getting rid of her and the thugs on the ground in Ukraine were like, “Ok, boss! Sure thing!” It was only because of the quick work of the American embassy that Trump wasn’t involved in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of an American ambassador.

But, given what we know now about the absolute devotion of the MAGA New Right to Trump — I suspect even that would be a lulz.

The point is — we’re pretty fucked. A violent personality cult is one election away from returning to power and pushing us into the existential choice of autocracy or civil war.

Now what.

Deep State Radio & My ‘Doom Shit’

by Shelt Garner

I listened to the most recent Deep State Radio and, while I was pleased, I noticed something. While they kept talking the “doom shit” that some people on Twitter get mad at me about when it comes to MAGA, Trump and our coming decent into autocracy, there was an element of ignoring the pink MAGA elephant in the room.

That elephant is they are so concerned about the political problems we face when it comes to MAGA that they said not a word about the other option before us: civil war.

Now, I know why this is — they’re working with metrics that are real, not speculative and they don’t want to sound hysterical or like their doing “doom shit.” But I compare it to a fictional, anachronistic podcast in, say, 1859. They would be talking about the rise of Slave Power and how “these United States” risked being all slave under autocratic Slave Power rule. The idea that Lincoln would win and slave states would leave the Union in protest is probably something they would dare broach.

But not one listens to me, so I talk about it all the time.

As I keep saying, we have something of a spectrum ahead of us with a MAGA autocracy on one end and a civil war at the other. I vacillate wildly between these two possibilities in my mind. At the moment, I think we’re going to slip peacefully into autocracy because The Powers That Be have every reason to tell an enraged populace that Everything Is Fine.

It will only be if MAGA bungles the historical inevitable of America transitioning into an autocracy that there is any risk of the “doom shit” that I keep writing about here and on Twitter becoming a reality.

Before I go, let me explain my gratuitous use of “doom shit.” See, one of those well respect Resistance Twitter accounts who do a lot of yeoman work covering the Trump Era got mad a me for pretty much saying, “I simply don’t believe Trump is every going to be legally held account for anything he’s ever done.”

They yelled at me and said, “You have to stop it with the doom shit.”

At the moment, at least, it’s not “doom shit” — it’s what really going on. Mad Kind Trump is politically above the law. And, even worse, even if we magically fell him on a political level, he’s always just been an avatar — there are a dozen would-be autocrats lurking in the shadows, waiting to finish the job he completed.

As such, we still face the choice of autocracy or civil war between now and January 2025.

So, Could Trump Become Speaker Of The House?

by Shelt Garner

Could Trump become Speaker of the House? The short answer is, of course, yes. But it’s a lot more complicated than you might think. The rumor we’re hearing now is he would run for a House seat so he could get the job. But that’s kind of besides the point.

Given that Trump has some serious autocratic inclinations — even if he is really fucking lazy — it would be far easier for him just to demand being named Speaker should House Republican win the chamber. (Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the Speaker have to actually be a House member.) It’s kind of a historical gimmie that they will, so it’s very possible that Trump will really screw over his lapdog Kevin McCarthy by stealing a position that should rightfully be his.

Now, the ominous implication of all of this is the reason Trump would want the job is so he could short circuit the Constitution by leading an impeachment charge against Biden and Harris so he could be come POTUS via the line of succession. This is a classic late-stage democracy play by a would-be autocrat. I will note, in passing, that the very thing we were always afraid the Republicans would do if Speaker Nancy Pelosi ever found herself in a position to become president –challenging the Constitutionality of the Presidential Secession Act — Democrats might do in this situation. Though, come to think of it, SCOTUS is now full of MAGA hacks, so lulz.

As such, we need to take this possibility seriously. It’s very easy to imagine Trump becoming Speaker, impeaching both Biden and Harris and then ranting hysterically about MAGA needing to “protect the 2nd Amendment” in such a way that there’s enough political violence across the country that the Senate convicts both Biden and Harris simply to protect the nation from a civil war.

I say this only because MAGA is now American fascism. It’s an Americanized version of the Nazi Party in 1933. The only thing stopping Trump from doing any of this is he’s extremely lazy and — and stupid. So, I can come up with all the hysterical dystopian political hellscapes I want to, but in the end, Trump could be so fucking lazy as to bungle even something as obvious as this.

So, I dunno.

‘The Quiet Before The Storm’

by Shelt Garner

I suggest everyone enjoy the less than two years we have left before Congress flips and Republicans control two out of the three branches of government. That will be the first step towards the very stark choice America will face in 2024: autocracy or civil war.

Now, there may be some variations on all of this — I can’t predict the future, after all — but our democracy is so weak and its politics so undead right now that I just can’t see the return-to-normal that we have going on right now lasting beyond 2024.

There are so many would-be autocrats waiting in the wings for Trump to make up his mind about running again and the push to nullify any vote that Republicans in Congress don’t like so strong that 2020 may be looked back upon as the last free and fair election the United States had. Of course, if we have a civil war and the “good guys” win, then after about five or so years of WMD-caused mass death we may begin to return to a normal — if very changed — American again.

It really bothers me how oblivious Twitter liberals are about how dire things are right now in the United States. We’ve been lulled into a false sense of safety because Trump is gone, but take one look at the continued lunacy of MAGA Republicans and you see more than enough to send a chill down your spine.

MAGA Republicans have already made the cognitive leap necessary to begin murdering people for political reasons. All that has to happen is some sort of undue, unexpected pressure is placed on our political system and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s logical, right now, to assume that pressure will come simply from the passions of the 2024 presidential cycle. But it could be something else — that happens sooner. If, say, Trump pulls a Scalia on us and simply dies of natural causes because he’s old, that event, in itself, may be enough to spark massive political violence because, lulz, MAGA cocksuckers will assume the Deep State murdered him.

But let me say again — I can’t predict the future. Anything can happen. But the only reason why the stark choice of 2024 didn’t happen in 2020 is because of one person: Donald Trump. If Trump had been the person people thought they were electing in 2016 and not a ding-dong, then we wouldn’t have had a free and fair election in 2020 and we would now all be living under the thumb of Trumplandia.

As I keep saying — get out of the country if you can. After about 2024, America is going to be a place anyone who isn’t MAGA is going to want to live in. Or there’s going to be a civil war and we’re going to bomb ourselves into the stone age so American Karens don’t have to worry about being “canceled.”

I Just Don’t See A Second American Civil War (Or Revolution) Anytime Soon

by Shelt Garner

We have every reason to be nervous. It definitely seems as though the United States is about to have some sort of civil war or MAGA revolution pretty soon. But I seriously doubt it…for now.

It may happen at some point around 2024-25, but not right now. The people who would be doing a civil war or revolution need to organize and marinate in their hate a few more years before they can actually pull it off.

Right now, it’s all abstract. Right Wing nutjobs in vague terms want to burn it all to the ground, but…they’re all talk for the time being. What made what happen on January 6th such a wake up call was they weren’t all talk for once and, what’s more, POTUS was the guy who pushed them over the edge.

Trump right now seems pretty chill. He’s almost in hiding.

So, unless he snaps in a rather unexpected fashion, I think we’re fine for the next few years. But, as always, anything can happen, I guess.