Donald Trump's effort to stay in power despite losing the 2020 presidential election has resulted in congressional, federal, and local investigations. But far-right efforts to end democracy still lack two critical components, according to an authoritarianism expert.
Andrea Pitzer is the author of the 2017 book, "One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps," and explained her perspective in a thread posted to Twitter on Saturday.
"I was in the middle of writing my history of concentration camps when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015," Pitzer wrote. "He did so many disturbing things ahead of the election. People asked me if the red flags meant inevitable disaster, if we were doomed to repeat grim 20th-century history."
"It was all certainly alarming, and I drew several parallels in essays I wrote at the time. But I also noted some key differences in that moment--elements which distinguished 2015 and 2016 from the worst historical moments," she explained. "Organized paramilitary violence in support of Trump or his platform was limited. There were not praetorian-guard law enforcement agencies whose allegiance he had fully cultivated. Many inside his own party were willing to call him out as a threat or mock his legitimacy."
In May of 2016, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed... and we will deserve it." But on Friday, Graham appealed to the Supreme Court with a "hail Mary" pass to avoid testifying about his role in "finding" votes for Trump in Georgia.
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"Unfortunately, despite Trump's loss of the election in 2020, he has remained a significant threat to the country. And now many of those factors that were missing in 2015 are now in place, along with other conditions that risk destabilizing the election process," Pitzer said.
"That said, there are two key areas still missing from the common template for ending democracy and establishing strong authoritarian rule: unambiguous support from the military and a court system willing to consistently defer to the executive," Pitzer explained. "I think it's not impossible for the army & courts to surrender eventually, but he's not there yet. And neither is any other Trump rival. I offer this not to reassure but instead to say there's still room to work. More than 50% of surveyed voters view him somewhat/very unfavorably."
Pitzer concluded, "Having grown up in a Christian nationalist household, I'm pretty aware of what Trump supporters want and the damage they're willing to do. But they are not a majority, and there is still time to stop them."
Read the full thread.