The American President and the Onslaught on Democracy

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Donald Trump may not be the anti-Christ, but his increasingly abhorrent and corrosive actions are very definitely anti-democratic.


Whatever the truth of the allegations of Russian interference in the American Election and the alleged ties between the Trump camp and the Russians, there is little doubt that the President is employing one of the former Soviet state's most insidious weapons very effectively. Not only is he levelling this weapon firmly against his fellow Americans; he has taken aim very squarely at the heart of democracy; peaceful dissent the right of free speech and an open, enquiring media.

That weapon? Pollution of public information, of knowledge. The discrediting of truth and truth's purveyors of any kind. Casting doubt upon the motives of legitimate information sources leaves the public mistrusting and uncertain; unable to formulate informed opinions on the shifting ground. This wavering trust makes them ever more open to persuasion and coercion, to fragmentation and control.

The classic 'Russian' tactic of creating false enemies further fuels the uncertainty. It manufactures inviting hooks to which factions of the citizenship eagerly cling, to rally against common foes. Create enough hooks and enough factions and it almost seems the people are rallying behind you.

Mexican? Arabian? Homeless? A German car maker? Get the drift? These are all glaringly evident examples of Trump's targets, of Trump's cynical dissembling of the basis for debate and informed opinion. That basis is a fundamental necessity for the democratic process … but it is a major stumbling block for bible-belt fundamentalists seemingly determined to ride Trump Train into the dark ages, where science is optional.

Whether it is Trump's persistent references to alternative facts, or fake news, or the bias of the media; or his predilection for ignoring scientific truth and spewing forth ill-understood and often ignorant dogma (religious or otherwise) his attack on actual facts is evil indeed.

These tactics have been used by China, by the former-USSR and its allies, for decades to subdue, divided and rule their citizens. Vladimir Putin and his aides have revitalised them using modern technology, including social media, and yes even hacking, to take them to new heights.

When the source of the information is itself doubted, then all truths are equally invalid; equally valid.

Hence the President is able to exploit alternative facts (nee, misinformation) to justify pulling from the Paris Climate Agreement, or to ban travel for humans of a certain colour or creed, or to build a wall between nations (figuratively or literally).

The natural progression for this is to turn this weapon ever more against those who oppose you, and your new 'norm', Those false enemies will, perhaps, soon be those pesky liberals, perhaps labelling them first as not intelligent enough to see the 'truth'. Then maybe as anti-truth, or maybe unpatriotic. It is a slippery path and sadly we know its ending.

For the moment America's media is holding its own; but under a barrage of disinformation from the Trump presidency, how long will that prevail?

How long are Republicans prepared to countenance the undermining of their own principles and their own constitution and their much vaunted democratic freedoms?

As long as pouring scorn on liberals keeps the White House Republican?

Long enough to see the rise of a fascist right wing religious uprising in their heartlands?

Long enough to turn the land of the free, the home of the brave, into a nation segregated polarised and fragmented by colour creed and social advantage?

The time to muzzle the mutt has come; before the bark becomes the bite.

 

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