Forum: Abbott emulating Trump is a blow to democracy – Corpus Christi Caller-Times
“Texas’ secretary of state office announced it had launched a review of the 2020 election in four of the state’s largest counties on Thursday evening, hours after former President Donald Trump sent an open letter to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott demanding one.”- Politico, Sept. 23, 2021.
Gov. Greg Abbott has decided to link his fate to Donald Trump, who was impeached twice and came close to being removed from office. No wonder Abbott is sinking, as shown by a new poll which showed that only 42% of Texas voters support him for reelection (down from 46% just a few months ago). Only 44% give him a positive job approval rating, his worst rating since he’s been in office.
Abbott has low ratings on abortion (36% approval), the border situation (43% approval) and handling the virus (46% approval). Only 45% say he’s taking Texas in the right direction. Which leads me to say that blindly following Trump was not smart for him politically.
For a segment of our population, former President Donald Trump was (and still is) a charismatic leader. But it is increasingly clear that Trump came very close to overturning the basic tenet of our apparently fragile democratic republic — fair elections. As information has come out, it has become obvious that Trump either does not understand democracy or just disagrees with letting the people decide who should be President. And that is who Abbott is emulating.
The Oxford Dictionary defines fascism as “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” Undeniably, Trump is a fascist. He believes in a top-down system where everyone reports to him (regardless of the Constitution or political norms), including Congress, the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice. Trump feels he should be elected even if the Electoral College and the American voters see things differently.
Early in 2016, when Trump believed he would lose, he complained about fraud, “(Democrats) want to try to rig the election at the polling booths.” He lied to the American people, saying that “voter fraud is very, very common,” when the opposite is true.
With no substantiation, he claimed that illegal immigrants were voting (“because non-citizens tend to favor Democrats”), as were dead people. He demanded his supporters “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.” And that rhetoric was before a single vote was cast, doing irreparable harm to our democracy by pre-assuming the illusion of fraud.
He even created a farcical “election integrity commission” to investigate. Since they could find no irregularities, the group was quietly disbanded.
Which brings us to the shameful way that Trump has characterized the 2020 presidential election, which experts say was the most fair and honest in US history. Per Attorney General Barr, a Trump appointee and supporter, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
But according to Trump, even before the first vote was cast, this election was also ripe with irregularities, “they’re trying to steal an election.”
After his clear loss, he again claimed fraud with no substance to his claims. He charged that votes were “processed illegally,” dead people voted, mail-in ballots were tampered with, and voting machines switched votes away from him. None of these charges could be proven. Dozens of suits (63 in all, including in Texas) were brought by the Trump team, and all were thrown out of court, often by GOP-appointed judges.
After his loss, Trump tried a series of fascist maneuvers to overturn a free and fair election, calling on various state officials to help. For example, Trump called Georgia’s GOP Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to pressure him to find non-existent Trump votes to overturn that states election. He asked his lawyers to repeat inaccurate claims of fraud. Trump pressured his appointees, like AG Barr, to find fraud where it did not exist. He even told Vice President Pence that either he would help get Trump elected (by failing to certify the election results, regardless of the Electoral College) or he would no longer be his “friend.”
And then we have the Jan. 6 terrorist insurrection instigated by Trump, who asked his violent supporters to come to Washington and march on our Capitol.
Trump is clearly a fascist. But what about the GOP-elected officials like Abbott who refused to acknowledge Biden’s election was fair? They were and are complicit, making them supporters of fascism.
Jack Bernard is a retired corporate executive who worked extensively with hospital systems throughout Texas.