The descent into authoritarian madness by Donald Trump remains a palpable threat to American democracy. With each new day he escalates his baseless allegations of a “stolen” election. And he does this with the full knowledge that his lies incited violent riots in Washington, D.C., by his insurrectionist cult followers. He does this with the full knowledge that his continuing lies will likely fuel more violence. Which is just what this maniac wants.
Much has been said about how to respond to Trump’s persistent assault on democracy. People talk about indictments, legislation, and organizing to elect honorable representatives in Congress who will take their oath of office seriously. But this is an “all of the above” situation. It all comes down to one question. A question that probes the level of commitment that we have to preserve our republic. That question was asked on Saturday by CNN anchor Jim Acosta, after playing a particularly cringeworthy clip of Trump conceding his vile, aberrant character, or lack thereof:
Trump: I didn’t become different. I got impeached twice. I didn’t change. I became worse.
Acosta: I, for one, believe him. He has become worse, if that’s possible. The current President says American democracy is still being threatened. Yes, it is being threatened, by the former guy.
“As Jim Malone would ask, What are you prepared to do?’ What is law enforcement prepared to about Trump’s actions surrounding January 6th? What are Democrats prepared to do to protect our elections? What are you, the voter, prepared to do to hold accountable those politicians who choose Trump over American democracy? What are you prepared to do?
Acosta: I, for one, believe him. He has become worse if that’s possible. The current President says American democracy is still being threatened. Yes, it is being threatened, by the former guy… pic.twitter.com/JWVbuwCGwI
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 17, 2021
Acosta was channeling Jim Malone, the character played by Sean Connery in “The Untouchables.” FBI agent Eliot Ness sought out Malone’s advice on how to get Al Capone. Malone responded…
“You said you wanted to know how to get Capone. Do you really want to get him? … What are you prepared to do?”
Ness, of course, replied that he would do everything within the law. And that must be what American patriots pledge to do with regard to Trump. That must be what politicians – Democrats and Republicans – commit to. It must be the course that law enforcement and Justice Department prosecutors take without fear or prejudice.
Without accountability, the criminal acts of Trump will be swept aside, and future aspiring dictators will pursue the same paths of tyranny. However, Trump’s more savvy successors will have the benefit of learning from his failures and foolishness. They are already on that path as Republicans in many states are passing voter suppression bills and legislation giving partisan autocrats the right to overturn the will of the people.
For this reason we need to take Acosta’s adaptation of Malone’s question to heart. That scene led to the infamous exchange where in Malone advised Ness that if…
“You want to get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife? You pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital? You send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get Capone! Now, do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?”
Of course that’s metaphorical in this context. But Acosta is providing just the sort of inspiration that is needed at this perilous junction in American history. We need to have that kind of devotion to political victory on behalf of democratic values. It will take great effort sustained for many months and years. Are you ready to do that? For America’s sake, I hope so.
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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