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There Are No Technical Fixes for American Fascism

Dear reader, how many earnest proposals have you seen over the past six years or so for “fixing” what is wrong with American democracy? Let’s abolish the Electoral College. Let’s try “ranked-choice voting.” Let’s all vow to practice civility. Let’s get “dark money” out of politics. Let’s make Facebook change its algorithms so they stop promoting political rage and extremism.

Most of these are fine ideas, especially the bit about taking away “Zuck’s” ability to get filthy rich off of anger and lies. But none of them will treat the real illness that is making America sick unto death, which is the rise of the farcical form of fascism that currently goes by the name of MAGA. Take the social media reform proposals, for instance. To protect their golden-egg-laying goose from federal meddling, Twitter and Facebook took action themselves, banning Trump after his minions sacked the U.S. Capitol. The farce-fascists merely migrated to Gab, Rumble, MeWe, Parler, Schmarler, 8chan, 2 X n-chan (that’s a math joke, sorry)… you get the picture.

Or take another fine idea, one that is a hardy perennial to boot: breaking down the two-party system by introducing one or more third parties, which in turn would require converting the American republic into a parliamentary democracy, getting rid of the presidential system, and, umm… that would require a constitutional convention, another wonderful idea in that, as I myself have argued in this space, the 1789 Constitution is obsolete and has become a dead hand blocking any real progress. But how could we hold a constitutional convention when the tension would be, not between a latter-day Alexander Hamilton and a latter-day Thomas Jefferson, but between the likes of AOC and Marjorie Taylor Greene? Which is not to equate these two women; I’m not an AOC supporter, but she’s not a totalitarian Jew- and Black-hating racist like Georgia’s rotten peach. My only point is, there would be no common ground for discussion. And that is because fascists, farcical or not, do not discuss things, they only point guns at you and demand your unconditional surrender to their world view, so memorably summed up by George Orwell’s 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

Might I remind you, Congressional Republicans gave the inventor of “Jewish space lasers” and veteran harasser of the bereaved Sandy Hook parents a standing ovation. People like her are the present and the future of the MAGA-tized Republican Party, regardless of what happens with the Original Orange Turd Blossom. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger can try as hard as they want, they have already been excommunicated from the Party. And that renders “bipartisanship,” which was President Biden’s go-to solution until very recently, a fanciful dream.

In the memoirs of the late Tip O’Neill, the Democratic Speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987, he recounts an episode when he was first running for Congress, back in 1952, and JFK, who was then running for the Senate against high-profile Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, asked him to deliver a radio speech on his behalf. The text hadn’t arrived at the radio station by the time O’Neill was supposed to speak, so Lodge, who was present at the studio, graciously agreed to take his turn first to give O’Neill time to wait for a messenger to bring the speech. It arrived just in time, and O’Neill had to go on right after Lodge and read the speech cold while Lodge sat outside the booth with O’Neill’s wife, Millie.

Well, that speech kicked the living hell out of Henry Cabot Lodge. I didn’t have time to edit it or make any changes, and with Millie and Lodge looking right at me through the window as I made those remarks, I was humiliated… I felt terrible. Lodge had been so generous to let me take his turn, and look how I had treated him in return. Had I known what was in that speech, I would have thrown it away and spoken off-the-cuff. Instead of attacking Lodge, I would have told people why they should vote Democratic in the election.

Those words were written about a different country, one that no longer exists. The one we actually live in is now at the start of its second civil war, with the Republican National Committee having given its blessing last week to the January 6, 2021 Capitol putschists, the guys who tried to lynch the vice president and the Congress, condemning “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” Either they win, the anti-fascists win, or, likeliest of all, the United States of America disintegrates.

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