Viewing all 8 posts
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 154

Hi all,

This is an optional post for all of you who wish to participate, which is why it's posted in a new forum for all classes. Anyone who wishes to respond is encouraged to do so.


We are living through an extremely historic and potentially perilous moment in our democracy. We could spend virtually every moment in Facing History talking about the times we are living in and never address history. That would be unfortunate and, yet, we seem to need to reckon with our current climate in the United States.


Timothy Snyder, who teaches history at Yale, is one of the foremost historians of interwar Germany, Nazi Germany, and the modern history of Eastern Europe in general. His books--Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015) and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010)--are key books on this history. His more recent book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2018), is one we will dive into this winter.


I'm not a big Twitter person but, of late, I find myself on Twitter quite a bit. And I follow what Tim Snyder has to say. He produced a stream of tweets that I think are noteworthy.


6,070 views

Timothy Snyder

November 10, 2020

1/20. Democracy is precious and exceptional.

2/20. Democracy is undone from within rather than from without.

3/20. The occasion to undo democracy is often an election.

4/20. The mechanism to undo democracy is usually a fake emergency, a claim that internal enemies have done something outrageous.

5/20. A tyrant cares about his person, not the Republic.

6/20. A tyrant fears prosecution and poverty after leaving office.

7/20. Donald Trump faces criminal investigations and owes a billion dollars to creditors.

8/20. Donald Trump has said all along that he would ignore the vote count.

9/20. What Donald Trump is attempting to do has a name: coup d'état. Poorly organized though it might seem, it is not bound to fail. It must be made to fail.

10/20. Coups are defeated quickly or not at all. While they take place we are meant to look away, as many of us are doing. When they are complete we are powerless.

11/20. American exceptionalism prevents us from seeing basic truths.

12/20. Biden voters are wrong to see a Biden administration as inevitable. Take responsibility, Democrats.

13/20. In an authoritarian situation, the election is only round one. You don't win by winning round one.

14/20. Peaceful demonstrations after elections are necessary for transitions away from authoritarianism, as in Poland in 1989, Serbia in 1999, or Belarus right now.

15/20. It is up to civil society, organized citizens, to defend the vote and to peacefully defend democracy.

16/20. Dance after the wedding, not before. Take responsibility, Americans.

17/20. Republicans endorsing the claim of fraud endanger the Republic.

18/20. Calling an opponent's victory fraudulent risks assassination, as in Poland in 1922.

19/20. Creating a myth of a "stab in the back" by internal enemies, as Republicans are helping Trump to do, justifies violence against other citizens, as in interwar Germany.

20/20. Persuading your voters that the other side cheated starts a downward spiral. Your voters will expect you to cheat next time. Take responsibility, Republicans.

• • •


This was, for me, extremely thought-provoking. I'm curious to know what you think about it. I welcome your responses!

madagascar
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Threat To Democracy

I definitely agree with Ms. Freeman that this was very thought provoking. It makes me very nervous to read this tweet and to look at the news to see that Trump has been replacing pentagon workers with his own trusted people.

In all honesty, I have been wanting to think that, like number 12 states, that the Biden administration is inevitable. However, after reading this I need to come to terms that it isn’t. That is horrifying to think about. That a country like ours, which prides itself on democracy, could possibly have a legal coup.

It also is extremely shocking to me that in the constitution there is a “loophole” so to say, which allows for this type of legal coup d’etat to occur. In all of my years learning US history, not once have I ever learned that. It’s quite frankly sad but not surprising. I do wonder what would happen if Trump does manage to go through with this. Would other countries get involved? Would we have to go through another 4 years of the Trump administration?

Another point that I think is important to note is that most Republicans refuse to admit that Biden won the election. I feel like this really connects to being a bystander. I saw an interview on CNN just now with a Republican governor elect who congratulated Biden on his win. He mentioned that many fellow Republicans don’t want to officially congratulate Biden because they fear speaking out and losing their position. This is understandable but still being a bystander. One of the reasons Trump can keep doing what he is doing, screaming voter fraud and other lies, is because no one in the Republican party is stopping him. I think if we really want to prevent anything similar to a coup d’etat, the Republicans will have to step up.

In the end, I don’t think that Trump could go as far as to really stage a coup, even a legal one. I may be in denial, but I do think that certain aspects of democracy are too ingrained that even Republicans have to agree. I do think that Trump will not go without a fight, and that he is really undermining the democratic institution, and that is a big big big problem that should scare people.

sizzles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Not Surprising

I find it interesting that this country's ''highest priority'' is to maintain equality, but it also provides legal loopholes in order for the favored elites to remain in power. Trump's chief attorney at the moment, Rudy Giuliani, is foaming at the mouth on account of this opportunity to wield power. Everyone should be involved in the ongoing fight for democracy, regardless of party lines. Unfortunately for Americans, the majority of the legislators and politicians don't care about them or their future; power is their ultimate goal. Throughout the past few years, lawlessness has been normalized, so when I read through the tweets, I barely blinked. I recall reading a repost on Instagram which stated that the line you think those in power will draw will keep on receding.

Earl Grey Tea
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

What a strange time to live in.

All of this is very concerning. Tweet 12/20 resonated with me a little bit: “Biden voters are wrong to see a Biden administration as inevitable. Take responsibility, Democrats.” I feel like we should be celebrating both because we’re happy Trump lost the election and because the more normal and widely recognized Biden’s victory becomes, the better. But on the other hand, Trump and many Republicans insist that the election is far from over. I wonder if it even matters if Trump ends up refusing to concede the election at all. Synder’s tweets obviously suggest that Trump is a tyrant. I’m sure he fears prosecution and poverty after leaving office. Definitely a lot to think about. I’m most worried about what Trump is going to do in his last couple of months and if there will be this peaceful transition of power everybody is talking about. I believe it was Mike Pompeo who said “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” What a strange time to live in.
BlueWhale24
Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Divisive Times

In all honesty, while I breathed a sigh of relief for our country after Donald Trump was not re-elected, I soon after began to wonder what path our country would now take over the next 4 years. Like many have been saying, the number of Republican voters during this election cycle cannot be ignored. A narrow victory for Joe Biden means that the increasingly divisive nature of politics within the United States, which only worsened with the Trump administration within the Oval Office, might delve into further chaos. In this world of fierce competition between Democrats vs. Republicans over Senate seats and House positions, it is my belief that red voters might resist throughout the entire presidency of Joe Biden, and if a Republican candidate does get voted into the the White House in 2024, Democrats might do the same. The discontent of the American people was on full display this election cycle - coming from both sides of the spectrum and even somewhere in the middle. The larger issue at hand is rectifying the schism which has formed between the two dominant parties in our country and learning how to cooperate once more. Until then, we cannot take a possible ping-pong of presidencies in which one party's candidate takes office to remove his predecessor's doings only for his successor to do the same.

Bumblebee
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Corruption in the Trump Administration? Old News.

I definitely found this thought-provoking as well. I have seen Trump been labeled as an authoritarian before, but now that I see each of these tweets laid out as if in a step by step guide on how a dictator could seize power, and connect each one to a particular action that Trump has taken in the past few months, it is finally clicking for me.

A particular deed of late that stood out to me was when Trump appointee Emily Murphy refused to sign a letter allowing President-elect Biden to formally begin the transition of powers. It is obvious to me that she did not make this decision on her own. Trump obviously instructed her to do it, and this refusal could have long-term consequences on Biden’s presidency. If they do not allow him to begin the transfer of power, he could be inaugurated in January and already be months behind.

This scares me. When Biden won the election, similar to BlueWhale24, I finally allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief. I thought that whatever nonsense Trump tries to pull by challenging the results of the election, he would lose, and it wouldn’t make any difference. I thought we were finally rid of him.

Yet now I see that I was naïve to think that. Anyone as desperate to hold onto power as Trump would find some way to stay in the game, and each of Timothy Snyder’s tweets clearly demonstrate these ways.

TraderJoe's
Posts: 12

Originally posted by BlueWhale24 on November 11, 2020 21:53

In all honesty, while I breathed a sigh of relief for our country after Donald Trump was not re-elected, I soon after began to wonder what path our country would now take over the next 4 years. Like many have been saying, the number of Republican voters during this election cycle cannot be ignored. A narrow victory for Joe Biden means that the increasingly divisive nature of politics within the United States, which only worsened with the Trump administration within the Oval Office, might delve into further chaos. In this world of fierce competition between Democrats vs. Republicans over Senate seats and House positions, it is my belief that red voters might resist throughout the entire presidency of Joe Biden, and if a Republican candidate does get voted into the the White House in 2024, Democrats might do the same. The discontent of the American people was on full display this election cycle - coming from both sides of the spectrum and even somewhere in the middle. The larger issue at hand is rectifying the schism which has formed between the two dominant parties in our country and learning how to cooperate once more. Until then, we cannot take a possible ping-pong of presidencies in which one party's candidate takes office to remove his predecessor's doings only for his successor to do the same.

I agree with BlueWhale24, it feels as though every president has been undoing what the previous one has done, and so forth and so on. We cannot make progress until we agree on the same values. In Timothy Synder's tweets, he goes back and forth with "Take Responsibility Republicans" and "Take Responsibility Democrats." Both parties are fiercely relentless in this political battle that is pro Trump vs anyone but Trump. Will there ever be a way to dissolve the party system? There has always been some form of party system throughout history, whether its Federalists vs Republicans in the 1800s or Whigs vs Democrats or Republicans vs Democrats, it's all the same concept with different labels. Will America ever come to a place of unity? This feels like an ironic question, as America is made from people of different and diverse backgrounds, and as a result, have different priorities and values. In a sense, we are all united under being "American," but at the same time, we are incredibly divided.

ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

I think Snyder’s tweets are powerful. They clarify and state plainly the overwhelming situation we’re in, and what may follow if we are not vigilant. That said, I do not think a coup is by any means the most likely scenario. It’s certainly possible, but I do not think Republicans and Trump are seriously interested in stealing the presidency; instead, as this Associated Press analysis discusses, they’re playing a political game: they want to keep Trump’s base energized for their own benefit, while shoring up Republicans’ opposition to Biden in order to limit the potential impact of his presidency.

“None of Trump’s legal challenges and assertions of voting irregularities has revealed any substantive issues with the election that would overturn the results. And some GOP lawmakers and party officials privately acknowledge that Trump has no choice but to step aside by Jan. 20 and cede power to President-elect Joe Biden.

The GOP strategy has echoes of the Republican approach to Obama’s 2008 victory when he won by 9.5 million votes and with 365 Electoral College votes. Republicans largely allowed lies about Obama’s citizenship to flourish, leaving millions of Americans with the impression that the nation’s first Black president might not be eligible to serve.

More than a decade later, Republicans again face a choice about whether to embrace Trump’s falsehoods for political gain. So far, few are openly disputing his assertions or challenging his acts to impede the transition."

While I am disappointed in Republican congressmen/women for engaging in this delegitimizing of the election, I am not surprised. Trump currently holds massive sway in the Republican Party, and will likely continue to be one of its defining figures over the following years. Republicans have watched colleagues who have crossed him be elected out of office in 2018, and most have learned their lesson. So I don’t expect Republican congresspeople to be contradicting Trump’s lies anytime soon if they want to keep their positions, as Trump has overwhelming popularity among the Republican constituency. But again, that appears to me to be more of a political calculation than an actual attempt to unlawfully seize power.

Additionally, it is difficult to see how Trump would actually keep power once January 20th rolls around. Neither the House nor the Senate has the power to nullify the election results, and election officials (not elected officials, election officials) on both sides of the isle have stood by the results of the election as they stand.Just because his Cabinet members are predicting a second term (as Pompeo has done) does not mean there will actually be a second term- they simply don’t have the power to enforce that. The courts have so far been quick to dismiss Trump’s election lawsuits, and it seems unlikely that any lawsuit will reach the Supreme Court.

Nonetheless, these election fraud claims are still extremely dangerous, and we do need to be standing up against them and preparing to act if they progress further. They set the stage for more perilous divisions, and a more loss of faith in our institutions and the process as a whole, which is already a huge problem in America.

Viewing all 8 posts