“With the Latest Trump Indictment, Mind These Lessons From the South”

Andrew Michael Kreis in a N.Y. Times opinion essay discusses the Georgia indictment in relationship to the collapse of Reconstruction”

“The democratic failures of that era shared three common attributes. The political process was neither free nor fair, as citizens were prevented from voting and lawful votes were discounted. The Southern Redeemers refused to recognize their opponents as legitimate electoral players. And conservatives abandoned the rule of law, engaging in intimidation and political violence to extinguish the power of multiracial political coalitions.

“At bottom, the theory behind the Fulton County indictment accuses Mr. Trump and his allies of some of these same offenses.”

While this historical comparison is interesting, I think Trump’s assault on democracy–which was a national, not regional, phenomenon extending to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada, as well as Georgia–has an element that (as far as I’ve seen) was missing in the electoral battles that were part of the effort to end Reconstruction in the South: the “Big Lie” flight from evidence-based reality and the deliberate fabrication of an entirely and utterly false narrative. As I’ve written before, I see a relevant parallel to Red Scare McCarthyism, what Hofstadter called the “paranoid style of American politics”–only this time applied to the vote-counting process rather than to the fear of Communist infiltration.

Perhaps a full understanding of Trump’s attack on democracy in relationship to the totality of US history will require drawing upon multiple periods and elements of the nation’s past in an effort to explain (as best we can) this unprecedented moment we are living through.

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