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Autocrats, Inc.: Thoughts on Election Day 2018


Autocrats, Inc.: Thoughts on Election Day 2018

Tom Engelhardt

Who could forget that moment? The blue [red] wave -- long promised but also doubted -- had, however modestly [however massively], hit Washington and [the Democrats had just retaken Congress] [the Republicans had held Congress] [the Democrats had taken the House]. The media, Fox News and the usual right-wing websites aside, hailed the moment.


Hedges said this first and with more depth:

As does Nick Pemberton:


Strap the spurs on and all that. We’re all in for even rougher riding in the near term.


Democracy cures autocracy.


The beginning to an answer I don’t think would be that. Here’s one that’s maybe simpler.

It could be eventually, when Trumpism pans out a nightmare all can recognize, there will be a bipartisan desire to do away with voter suppression and outright manipulation (and end up less obsessive worry about Russians hacking in). If that happens…I’d suppose…there’ll be an amendment to establish a national standard for voting protocols (taking it from the states). One function for each of the three parties would be to manage a record of photocopies of credit-card-type-receipts voters got when they voted (or they could get two receipts, one to keep and one to mail in in case of emergency). You’d have a commission to sift through complaints/challenges regarding what really exists in all the piles of paper ballots (they’d all be kept by reps from each party according to how each voter went on senator, rep, or president choice).

The ballot processing machines always look more and more impressive as years roll on. Who could guess what they’re costing our states…at least my state? But, hey, you know what? I won’t be impressed until they give me a paper receipt.


It’s 2:13 am Pacific Standard time. I avoided the online and TV reporting during election night. I did not want to be exposed to the constant speculation masquerading as reporting. I took my cue from “Lost Horizon” where the head of the monastery explained that getting the news years after the fact took the drama out of it. Well, I couldn’t wait for years, just hours.

Even now the results are unclear. The one district in my state that got press and attention and was ‘up for grabs,’ District 8, the suburbs east of Seattle that had been held by Republican Dave Reichert for 14 years, and now was contested by Kim Scrier [D] and perennial candidate Dino Rossi [R], was still not called. But at only 64% ballots counted, Scrier was ahead and the Democrats were celebrating and a Howard Dean Scream type photo of Scrier celebrating was all over the internet. But that still doesn’t mean she’ll win.

So it seems the Democrats now have 219 seats, the majority of 218 plus 1. But the Republicans only have 193 as 23 are still not called. Some seem strange they aren’t called. One in Florida has 100% of the precincts reporting and the Republican with a lead of over 6 points. It seems from the information coming in that the majority of these 23 races will go Republican.

If Scrier ends up losing and they all go Republican it will be a 219 to 216 split. A 3 vote majority. That of course gives the Democrats control and they can take over the investigating committees… so some of my more obnoxious Facebook friends were just gloating about.

I suspect that the results won’t be enough to stop Trump’s effective majority in the House.

Say what?

Yep. That was my prediction months ago, that there wouldn’t be a Blue Wave and if the Democrats did take the House it wouldn’t be big enough to have any real effect on stopping Trump. Why?

Let me take us back to 1980 when Reagan won the White House but failed to take the House, yet somehow got most of his agenda through? Why? Because a number of Democrats were conservative enough to vote with the Republicans to give him legislative wins.

Today those type of Democrats come in two types. The more ‘moderate’ ones are called New Democrats and are economically conservative but socially liberal. There are 52 of these creatures in the current Congress. Then there are the ones that are both economically and socially conservative- the Blue Dogs. There are 18 of these types in the current Congress. Of course some overlap and identify as both.

If there are enough of these types in the 116th Congress’ House Democratic Congress, then they’ll vote with the Republicans on things like taxes, cutting Social Security & Medicare, stopping ‘illegal’ immigration, expanding the military, etc., etc., etc.

This isn’t new. This was the reality in 2009-2011 when Obama had a theoretical majority in Congress but had so many Blue Dogs and New Democrats to deal with that he had to compromise his proposals even before he presented them.

I wanted to talk about this. But I no longer feel there’s a point on Facebook. People don’t listen there and don’t really engage in debate much less discussion. They just toss one line memes at each other and smear those they disagree with as ‘libtards’ or ‘fascists.’

Then of course there is the results that the GOP increased its majority in the Senate. No great Blue Wave hopeful Beto replacing creepy Ted Cruz. Claire out in Missouri.

So even if the Democrats in the House were to pass something, it would get killed in the Senate. Probably not even get past a cloture vote.

But, at least the hope goes, they will stop Trump’s agenda. They’ll shoot down his proposals.

But you see Nancy Pelosi already tonight in her victory speech just tossed that out just like she tossed out stopping the War in 2006 from the get go, even though that was why the Dems took over in that election as people voted against the Iraq War. “We’ll operate in a bipartisan manner and get things done.” That’s her mantra. “We Dems aren’t obstructionists like you Repubs, we’re nice people who like to cooperate with others. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah unlike you guys.”

So many in the Blue Tent have been saying over and over that this was an important election because it was the only way to stop fascism (even this article hints that Trump might turn into the Fuehrer soon) and save Social Security and Medicare.

I hope so.

But I don’t think so.

I’ll say it now, nearly a half hour after I started writing.

They won’t stop him on this. They’ll cooperate. A Grand Bargain. A “Something has to be done about the Deficit and we’re the Adults in the Room” who will get it done finally.

Just like they let Bush have his surge when they could have cut off funding for the Iraq War the last time they had a wave.

But this isn’t a wave, is it? It’s a tinkle. It’ll give them committees to keep up their #Resistance (Fake) while they cooperate on enacting the NeoLiberal agenda that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama wanted to do and couldn’t because the GOP wasn’t willing to ever cooperate.

I hope I’m wrong. I really do. I’d be delighted if I’m wrong.

I’m also afraid. I’m afraid of more wars. More fighting in Syria. Going to War with Iran and Venezuela. US Troops (more, actually, we’re already there) in Ukraine.

I’m sorry to say it, but it’s what I think. We’d have been better if the Dems had not gained a seat in the House but kept the ability to filibuster in the Senate. They might have actually done it- although they haven’t seem to for the last few years, have they. They might then have had the motivation to save what now I’m sure they’ll cut.

If I do turn out right on this and you remember I said this, will it have any effect on convincing people the Democratic Party is the enemy of real change, that it is where progressive movements go to die? Or will there still be all this nonsense about stopping Trump for the next two years as the establishment sells us another Hillary Clinton or maybe the exact same one. You do know that in a few days she and Bill are heading out on a speaking tour, right?


It’s a new day in Amurica! Yep, the day after the day after the day after when everything would be made right again. Wrong Again!

I’m a follower of TomE. I like his attitude, his insight, his prognostications, his reporting. I like all of the responses of the 4 of you who took time to read and react to TomE’s article. As the nation comes apart in the next two years, I hope we continue to post together. It’ll be like holding hands as the Titanic sank while the band plays “It’s the end of the world as we know it”.

I’ve read “The Making of Donald Trump”, “Trumpocracy”, “The Plot to Hack America”, and “The Plot to Destroy Democracy”. They tie in with TomE’s succinct assessment of the current situation and what may happen. History teaches us that a distressed nation can reach a point of no return and transition into a place where “fever dreams” come true. When the hope for a “Blue Wave” fizzles, all the good ideas posted on CD are ignored, events prove US exceptionalism is false, and people in power have a message that appeals to the worst instincts of a beat-down populace who are ready and willing to follow a demagogue then autocracy will replace democracy, voting won’t matter, a Billary tour will ensure a second term for tRump and tupPence, and we better strap the spurs on, saddle up, and get outta Dodge.