The GOP’s Growing Embrace Of Authoritarianism

Charlie Chaplin-The Great Dictator (wikimedia.org)

Shortly after Obama’s inauguration in 2009, conservatives experienced a collective meltdown when the president shook hands with the late Hugo Chavez. Roughly six years later, a new round of faux outrage was on display when Obama rightfully re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba. The usual GOP camera whores rushed to the airways fiercely denouncing the decision citing the country’s human rights record, jailing of dissidents, and the Castro families mafia-like grip on the island.

The GOP is, of course, correct when highlighting the dismal situation in countries like Venezuela and Cuba whose citizens suffer needlessly under oppressive regimes. However, Venezuela and Cuba are hardly the remaining authoritarian holdouts of a free and liberalized democratic world. According to Freedom House, “free” countries account for 45% of the world’s makeup while “partly free” and “not free” account for the remaining 55%.

Left-leaning authoritarian regimes have been a favorite punching bag of Republicans for some time which makes their growing support for kleptocratic thug Vladimir Putin all the more hypocritically sickening. Currently, 37% of Republicans hold a favorable view of Putin, which is massive considering it was a mere 10% in July 2014. Freedom House classifies Russia as “not free” with political rights continuing to decline over the past year.

How are we supposed to interpret the fact that 37% of Republicans maintain a favorable view of a man who poisons people with plutonium, commits war crimes in Syria, offers cover for fellow autocratic regimes by reliably blocking UN Security Council resolutions, and jails or murders anyone who poses a threat to his rule? I suppose it is acceptable as Putin is a right wing dictator, rather than a left wing one like Chavez or Castro (for lack of better terms).

In a recent interview, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from California, with a shit-eating grin on his face scoffed at the human rights abuses and murder of journalists in Russia, viewing such topics as humorous. He desperately attempted to shift focus to China despite both countries maintaining nearly identical, heinous records on both political rights and civil liberties.

It is not just growing support for authoritarianism abroad exhibited by Republicans, but in America as well. Paul LePage, governor of Maine, famous for claiming that drug dealers named D-Money, Smoothie, and Shifty were coming to his state to sell heroin and knock up white girls, highlights this in an uncompromisingly clear fashion. Just before the presidential election, LePage stated, “…we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law because we’ve had eight years of a president, he’s an autocrat, he just does it on his own, he ignores Congress and every single day, we’re slipping into anarchy.”

Notice how immediately after advocating for Trump to govern as an authoritarian, he denounced Obama for doing as such. Guys like this used to represent a small, mentally unhinged contingent of the GOP-not anymore.

Trump continually expressed contempt for American values and the Constitution throughout his campaign while ironically claiming to be the “law and order” candidate, and continues to do so. He presented himself as the strongman who will single-handedly return America to her glory days. His behavior was once again vividly displayed in a recent Twitter tantrum aimed at the judicial system for blocking his asinine executive order on immigration.

He blamed the courts for not falling in line with his dictatorial aspirations and making his job difficult, and instructed his followers to blame the judge who halted the order as well as the court system should a terror attack occur, among other outlandish assertions. These are the ramblings of a madman who seemingly had no clue that judges possess the authority to block presidential orders.

Public Policy Polling reports that one in four voters believe that Trump should have the authority to overturn judicial decisions. Considering the unlikelihood of anyone who did not vote for Trump believing such, it should be rather safe to extrapolate this finding to represent roughly 50% of Republicans polled.

It is difficult to understand how so many of the very people who spent eight years crazily comparing Obama to King George, rambling about gun confiscation, or building FEMA camps now believe that a uniquely unintelligent reality television con man should maintain the ability to override the entire judicial branch-truly frightening.