SEPTEMBER 27, 2021
Kuttner on TAP
Fight Fascism First
Robert Kagan’s must-read essay in The Washington Post, “Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here,” gets the big picture right, but gets some tactical details seriously wrong.

Kagan is all too accurate when he points out that Trump has captured the Republican Party and that Trumpers are now fully prepared to destroy democracy in order to win the 2022 and 2024 elections. “Trump’s grip on his supporters left no room for an alternative power center in the party,” he points out. “One by one, the ‘adults’ resigned or were run off.”

He is correct that Democrats, going about the normal business of negotiating their differences on the budget resolution, are not sufficiently mindful of the deeper threat of full-on fascism.

Kagan is also right that the Republicans are playing a double game, behaving as a normal opposition party in trying to block or weaken the governing party’s program, while being enablers of dictatorship, quite like the German conservatives who threw in with Hitler in 1932.

“It would be foolish to imagine that the violence of Jan. 6 was an aberration that will not be repeated,” Kagan writes. “Because Trump supporters see those events as a patriotic defense of the nation, there is every reason to expect more such episodes.”

What to do? Here is where the wishful second part of Kagan’s powerful essay contradicts the unflinching first part. He writes that Republicans like Mitt Romney and the six other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection should

fashion themselves as Constitutional Republicans who, in the present emergency, are willing to form a national unity coalition in the Senate for the sole purpose of saving the republic. Their cooperation with Democrats could be strictly limited to matters relating to the Constitution and elections. Or they might strive for a temporary governing consensus on a host of critical issues: government spending, defense, immigration and even the persistent covid-19 pandemic, effectively setting aside the usual battles to focus on the more vital and immediate need to preserve the United States.

Sure, that would be swell. But it’s not going to happen. And it won’t happen even if the Democrats reduce Biden’s Build Back Better program to 50 cents to “strive for a temporary governing consensus.”

Rather than looking for anti-Trump Republicans, who Kagan accurately reminds us are as dead as dinosaurs, Democrats should be redoubling their efforts to get voting rights legislation, and to use the federal government’s police and prosecutorial powers to give no quarter to fascists seeking to overthrow what remains of our democracy.
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