One thing that strikes me as I review events of the past few weeks is how Republican politicians just keep shifting further to the right, becoming more authoritarian and even fascist. This has been happening for years, of course, and the upcoming midterm elections are probably exacerbating the trend. But I believe this will come back to haunt the GOP long term.
What surprises me about this phenomenon, however, is how Republicans are targeting corporations that challenge them. They love the corporate campaign contributions but they don’t want any push back on their frequently unpopular policies.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose star is rapidly rising in the GOP, is a prime example. He rushed through a bill in April, without debate, that would repeal the complex 1967 law that gives the Walt Disney Company government-like legal authority over almost 40 square miles surrounding its huge theme park near Orlando, Florida. Why would DeSantis take such harsh action against the company that employs almost 80,000 people in his state and adds $75 billion to the state’s economy? Well, Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, was critical of DeSantis’ so-called, Don’t Say Gay law and called for its repeal.
Observers are beginning to compare DeSantis to Hungary’s illiberal leader, Viktor Orban, who has taken control of both the courts and the press in that small nation. As I have written before, I believe DeSantis is more dangerous than former president Trump.
Another possible presidential candidate and would be authoritarian, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (R), actually introduced legislation to strip Disney of some of its copyrights – including for its signature Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse – because the company exercised its free speech rights in Florida. A statement released by Hawley about this bill lambasted, “woke corporations like Disney” for “pandering to woke activists,” clearly casting it as retaliatory. It has no chance of passing but it sends a signal from Republicans to corporations: It’s okay to give us your money but keep your mouth shut about what we’re doing. What does this say about GOP support of free-market principles?
Ohio Republican Senate candidate J. D. Vance’s rhetoric, however, goes much further and is even more ominous. In an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Vance stated that the assets of the Ford Foundation should be seized or taxed and he called the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation and the Harvard endowment, “cancers on society” for allegedly supporting left-wing causes.
Vance gave a speech at the November 2021 National Conservative Conference titled, “The Universities Are the Enemy.” In it he denounced elite colleges – which he has long believed should lose federal funding and have their endowments seized – as enemies of the American people, according to a Vanity Fair article by James Pouge.
This article also revealed Vance’s advice for Trump if he’s elected in 2024, “Fire every single midlevel bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people.” “And when the courts stop you, stand before the country, and say, the chief justice has made his ruling, now let him enforce it.”
These are words former president Andrew Jackson used in 1832 when he challenged constitutional order and they are chilling.
I believe these examples put America’s corporations and other institutions on notice of what happens if Republican authoritarians gain power and I don’t think they’re willing to accept that fate. Neither will voters accept the results of long-held GOP policies if they become law, including restricting abortions.
Republican politicians have claimed to be pro-life for decades and demanded that Roe v. Wade and its constitutional right for an abortion be overturned. Well, the recently leaked preliminary opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicates that conservative Supreme Court justices are going to grant their wish. Thereafter, abortion rights will be subject to state laws, which will restrict or ban the procedure in at least 23 Republican-controlled states.
As numerous columnists have observed, the GOP dog has finally caught the abortion rights car it has been chasing but isn’t sure what to do with it. Problem is, 63% of voters believe Roe should remain the law, according to a recent national NBC News poll, and only 30% say it should go. You know what they say, be careful of what you ask for, you just might get it.
Likewise, how will voters react when a Republican-controlled government attempts to privatize Medicare and convert Medicaid to a block grant program, as Republicans have long advocated? Will Americans be eager to vote GOP when the Social Security trust fund is no longer able to fulfill its full obligations to beneficiaries and Republicans refuse to correct the short falls? Not likely.
I know, the future of our democratic republic seems rather dark right now. Still, I’m confident that we’re going to get through this assault on our democratic processes by GOP authoritarians. There are just too many good people in this nation who will never be willing to sacrifice 237 years of government for the people and give power to a stupid and terribly flawed man like Donald Trump – or DeSantis or any other like Republican. I don’t think it will be smooth or quick and it damn sure won’t be easy, but as long as a majority of we democracy-loving citizens stay rock solid in our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, we shall prevail.