by Shelt Garner
I talk a lot about the United States now, inevitably, becoming an autocracy, but what does that mean in real terms? Well, some context first. The violent elements of the MAGA New Right get a lot of attention, to the point that even some experts assume that if there is a civil war they will be the ones to start it.
This is complete bullshit. They’re politically ascendant and they have a vested interest in keeping the peace so they get everything they want without firing a shot. MAGA talks a lot about murdering people like me in cold blood for political reasons, but that’s more just the froth of a movement that is extremely impatient to strangle American democracy.
So, the key thing you have to appreciate is there is, in fact, a chance of a civil war during the transition to autocracy, but it should it happen, it will be Blues, not Reds who start it. And it will be at the state level, not some sort of rolling political violence like what was found with the Northern Ireland “Troubles.” Anyone who suggests that either isn’t paying any attention or they have some sort of warped fever dream where they get to use their AR-15s against liberals once and for all.
Anyway, back to autocracy.
There are two paths to autocracy for the US at the moment. One is, Trump becomes president again struggles to bring autocracy but can’t because he’s too dumb and lazy to pull it off. But he does set the stage for his hand-picked successor to pull it off. Trump is a big fat tub of lard and I just can’t see him making it through his second term. Given how deranged Trump is, his veep in this scenario could be anyone from Gen. Mike Flynn to malignant goober Josh Hawley.
The OTHER way is much more direct — Ron DeSantis becomes president and he slowly and methodically strangles American democracy. It could be any one of the dozen would be autocrats within Republican ranks that does it, but DeSantis is probably the most likely non-Trump nominee.
Ok. So then what?
Nothing will change at first. But soon enough, Republicans will push through a series of “reforms” that will allow them to establish an autocracy that will change the lives of everyday Americans in practical ways. Abortion will be be outlawed nationally without any exceptions. The social safety net will be gutted. Taxes for the poor will rise, while taxes for the wealthy will be cut down to the bone.
But one not-so-obvious “reform” will be with the Federal civil service. Trump already rants about how he wants to make it so he can fire anyone he likes for any reason. This usually comes up in context of how much he hates Dr. Fauci. And given how much my Traditionalist relatives hate Dr. Fauci, anything that would let the autocrat replace him with a MAGA toadie is something they can support.
So, once the autocrat can fire civil servants for political reasons, then there really will be a Deep State — only it will be MAGA. So, even if, somehow, a Democrat won the presidency and some point in the future, the MAGA Deep State would balk at actually doing anything he or she said.
And, lastly, we have to accept that there’s going to be a Constitutional Convention at some point after 2025. Now, obviously, it is also possible that in the near term someone like DeSantis could simply be named Speaker of the House and rule the country that way. He would personally pick some toady — maybe Lara Trump? — to be POTUS and would have a “Velvet Fist” situation where she would run around being hot and dumb while the real power would reside behind the throne with Speaker DeSantis. Such shenanigans are pretty standard with autocratic states.
The last thing to go would be freedom of speech. The first way this would be changed is when plutocrat allies of the autocrat buy up or invest in major media companies so they are beholden to him. Or, if the autocrat wanted to more…autocratic…he would simply threaten to revoke their broadcast licenses until they submitted. ICE would be weaponized and would become like the FSB in Russia. The existing ICE infrastructure would be used to throw people — like me! — into camps if they cross the autocrat.
So, that’s our future. Or we have a civil war. Take your pick.