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Mitch McConnell, the Paul von Hindenburg of American Democracy


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#1 LFC

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 03:18 PM

Interesting point of view from a historian of the rise of the Nazi Party.

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In a new piece for the New York Review of Books, historian Christopher Browning warns that there are troubling parallels between the present-day United States and the days of fascism’s rise in Europe.

Browning, a specialist in the areas of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and world war-era Europe, isn’t arguing that President Donald Trump is a modern Adolf Hitler or that Trumpism is akin to Nazism. But he does argue that certain stress fractures in the society and the international order appear to be re-emerging and that these patterns portend troubling trends for the United States and the rest of the world.

And there is one figure in American politics that Browning does see as a relatively direct — and troubling — analog to a crucial world war-era figure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, is becoming “the gravedigger of American democracy,” Browning wrote, a role played for Germany beginning in the 1930s by President Paul von Hindenburg.

Hindenburg didn’t defend democracy in Germany. Instead, he unleashed emergency powers in 1930 to appoint chancellors to skirt over political divisions in parliament. Eventually, Hitler became chancellor, when Hindenburg erroneously thought he could be controlled.

Now, McConnell shows a similar disregard for democracy and likewise opens up the country to serious risk, Browning explained:

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He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.

As a result of McConnell’s strong-arm tactics, Browning argued, it will now be impossible for a president to make significant judicial appointments — including to the Supreme Court — unless the Senate is led by the same party. This dynamic will push the country toward greater dysfunction.


More follows on the relationship of Republican leadership with Trump. Basically he can do whatever as long as they're getting what they want.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#2 baw1064

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 09:12 PM

I guess I object to the premise of this thread just a little.

Just as every decision about whether to go to war isn't 100% analogous to Neville Chamberlain in 1938, not every potential right wing autocrat isn't analogous to Hitler in 1932. Trump could just as easily be Mussolini, or Franco, or Marcos, or Pinochet.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#3 JackD

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 09:32 PM

or Ghadafi?

#4 baw1064

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 09:55 PM

..or Milosevic.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#5 AnBr

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 11:40 PM

 baw1064, on 07 October 2018 - 09:12 PM, said:

I guess I object to the premise of this thread just a little.

Just as every decision about whether to go to war isn't 100% analogous to Neville Chamberlain in 1938, not every potential right wing autocrat isn't analogous to Hitler in 1932. Trump could just as easily be Mussolini, or Franco, or Marcos, or Pinochet.

I say Mussolini.

Posted Image

But then perhaps...
Posted Image
"Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers arc in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

— Carl Sagan
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
1995


“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

— H.L. Mencken
On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe


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Second inaugural address January, 1937

#6 Traveler

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 08:24 AM

Not enough upvotes for that!
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#7 LFC

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:31 AM

Another article about Mitch McConnell and his destruction of America from somebody who had a front row seat while on Harry Reid's staff.

Quote

After a series of gut-wrenching moments, intense and emotional exchanges, and by far the weirdest hearing I have ever seen on Capitol Hill, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as the newest justice of the Supreme Court.

Only that wasn’t the end of the matter. Kavanaugh then went to the White House to partake in a fake swearing-in ceremony that—because Donald Trump has to be Donald Trump—had all the hallmarks of a political rally.

Sitting in the front row at that ceremony, taking it all in, was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which was appropriate since all of this—the weird hearing, the subtle dismissal of victims of sexual assault, the secrecy around the nominee’s record—was his doing. He is the maestro of moving judicial nominees through the Senate, and Kavanaugh was a prime testament to McConnell’s ruthless, amoral pursuit of that singular mission.

For those who have been in the trenches fighting against McConnell (and I’m one of them, having served as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s top communications hand), his success is undeniable. Single-minded in his pursuit of political power, imaginative in his choice of tactics, and emotionless to his core, he practiced Obama’s “no drama” mantra years before it became associated with the 44th president. And because of it, our judiciary will bear the imprint of his efforts decades after he leaves office.

But, and this is very important, that won’t be McConnell’s sole or even his most important legacy. Indeed, when history is written on McConnell’s tenure as Republican leader, there will be a more profound and unsettling conclusion: McConnell broke the Senate and hurt the country, and the sad fact is that he couldn’t care less.

This so-called institutionalist who expresses such devotion to the Senate’s traditions and the working people of Kentucky is, on these fronts, a fraud. That McConnell exists only in the imaginations of the reporters that write glowing profiles about the brilliant means and Machiavellian mind-set he employs while giving short shrift to the damaging ends he pursues.

The reality is that for him politics is all about winning. The idea that a leader would work to bridge the differences between the two parties in order to try and improve the country is a foreign concept to him. Everything is a zero-sum game. He is a man of no conviction except for a pursuit of power at all costs.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#8 pnwguy

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 12:08 PM

View PostLFC, on 11 October 2018 - 11:31 AM, said:

The reality is that for him politics is all about winning. The idea that a leader would work to bridge the differences between the two parties in order to try and improve the country is a foreign concept to him. Everything is a zero-sum game. He is a man of no conviction except for a pursuit of power at all costs.
That makes him the perfect leader for the GOP crime family. He just has zero charisma to be president, so he found the ideal role as a key henchman.
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