The Election That Could Break America

Barton Gellman’s article in the Atlantic, “The Election That Could Break America,” is perhaps the scariest piece I’ve read about the election yet—it was even published early because of its urgency. Fascism is at our doorstep.

And multiple essays echo its specific themes including:

This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.” by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post; “The Legal Fight Awaiting Us After the Election” by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker;
Trump’s escalating attacks on election prompt fears of a constitutional crisis” by Rucker, Gardner, and Linskey in the Washington Post;
Will Trump’s Presidency Ever End?: America is in terrible danger” by Frank Bruni in the New York Times;
I’ve Never Been More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now” by Richard Hasen in Slate;
Alarms are ringing everywhere about Trump’s election plot — except in our top newsrooms” by Dan Froomkin in Salon; and many, many more.

I could also list dozens of articles from psychiatrists and psychologists about Trump’s various psychopathologies—he is a textbook psychopath. Perhaps the best work in this area is The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President – Updated and Expanded with New Essays

Moreover, I have written dozens of essays myself on Trump and the Republican’s fascism/authoritarianism in the last 4 years. Here is just  a small sampling:

June 20, 2016 – “Is America on the Verge of Civil War?
August 1, 2016 – “Summary of Ken Burns 2016 Anti-Trump Commencement Speech at Stanford
November 7, 2016 – “To My Grandchildren on the Eve of the 2016 American Presidential Election
December 2, 2016 – “Devastated by the American Presidential Election
December 26, 2016 – “American Totalitarianism
December 29, 2016 – “Yes, America Is Descending Into Totalitarianism
February 6, 2017 – “The USA Overthrows Democracies Abroad, Will They Overthrow Their Own?
February 26, 2017 – “How To Cope With This Stressful Presidency
May 13, 2017 – “‘How Trump May Save the Republic,’ But Not in the Way Bret Stephens Thinks
January 7, 2018 – “Trump is an Existential Threat
December 10, 2019 – “The Fragility of Civilization
February 18, 2020 – “How To Survive Trump
February 28, 2020 – “Trump: Corruption and Autocracy
March 10, 2020 – “Trump is the American Nero
March 13, 2020 – “Trump White House Closed Office That Dealt With Pandemics
March 14, 2020 – “Does Trump Care About You?
April 23, 2020 – “George Packer ‘We Are Living in a Failed State’

These lists could go on and on. I’ll try to reflect on my response to all this madness in my next essay.

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7 thoughts on “The Election That Could Break America

  1. I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts. Whatever happens, how ever it turns out, I can see only strife ahead.

  2. I’m with you Mr. Stiller. I say, with all sincerity and honesty, keep your passports handy (hopefully they’ll be worth something again) and be prepared to save your family.


  3. Yes, this election is crucial to the future of this country. If Mr. Trump holds onto power, he will certainly follow a path parallel to Hitler’s. My wife is almost beside herself with grief and worry. A lot of people I know are seriously stressed, and it has gone so far that I have finally acceded to my wife’s demand that we buy some guns.

    Yet I am beginning to see a brightening on the horizon, the first glimmer of optimism that Mr. Trump will indeed lose the election, and that his efforts to subvert it by legal means will fail. I can’t cite any particular reason; it’s the entirety of the cultural mood. Yes, the Trumpsters are determined, but I think that the rest of the population is horrified. Mr. Trump is losing his mind, saying ever-crazier things every day. Over on Facebook, I posted this:

    “The astronauts aboard the ISS will be casting their votes from space. Mr. Trump tweeted that this was just asking for vote fraud, claiming that thousands of false votes will be cast by this method.
    What’s REALLY funny is that you can’t be sure that I’m making this up.”

    That, I think, is the key point: you could post almost ANY crazy claim about something that Trump said on Twitter, and it would be difficult for people to know whether it was a joke or the truth.

    A year from now, I suspect, we’ll all be looking back on these days wondering how things could have gotten so bad, and heaving a sigh of relief that we dodged a fascist bullet. But we’ll also be putting in place some much stronger protections against berserk Presidents.

  4. It does appear Chris is correct. The karmic retribution involved in so many of Trump’s people being infected with the virus, plus the president’s paranoia concerning electoral fraud, indicates a more positive scenario for this decade.
    Biden is leading in the polls by double digits, as the administration well knows. The paranoia in the executive branch will intensify in the few weeks left to their campaign.
    The only way for Trump to win would be for him to do what Truman did in his last campaign: shake thousands of hands all over the country. He would need an awful lot of disinfectant for that.

  5. Interesting. There’s that saying we are what we eat, I’ve come to wonder if the same holds for true for we are what we consume in general: what we read, watch, listen to; whom we converse with, and what conversations/discussions we have.

    I can only speak for myself but the only things I can attest to with a degree of certainty are those things that occur with the detectable periphery of my senses. Beyond this, everything else I’m aware of comes from others outside myself and they determine what it is they believe it is important that I know.

    There once was a radio broadcaster by the name of Paul Harvey who used to do a piece called The Rest of the Story. I personally believe there’s always more to the story.

    John Stewart Mill said:

    “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

    I’m not sure there’s much of this going on these days.

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