A Real and Very Dangerous Conspiracy

The MAGA faction, led by Donald Trump and his associates Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and many others, has been following a playbook used by authoritarian leaders to take over democracies around the globe. They have conspired to take over the Republican Party in the U.S. and have set their sights on taking over the country.

Authoritarian leaders come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. They make up charges against those who are running against them. The leaders and their followers find ways to rig the election in their favor while sustaining a veneer of competitive balloting. Various forms of voter suppression are put in place to make it harder for groups of people who are against the leaders to vote. If the leaders lose they proclaim the election was rigged.

These leaders are often enamored by their own power, and there is a very high risk that their actions will not only damage their own country but other countries as well. Vladimir Putin is a clear example of this. His senseless war on Ukraine has cost thousands of Russian and Ukrainian lives, billions of dollars in damage, and destabilized the global economy. It has also made Russia a pariah state and driven droves of educated, experienced, well-traveled and democratic professionals from the country.

Leaders such as Putin take control of major news sources. Fake storylines are created. Propaganda is used to undermine truth. Extremist content is repeated and emulated. Mainstream media is intimidated, delegitimized and eventually controlled. Press freedoms are limited; journalists are threatened or detained. Violence is encouraged and condoned. Efforts are made to create chaos, increase our fears, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. People who are “different” from the leaders — ethnic or religious minorities, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, women — are persecuted. In summary, authoritarian leaders and their followers weaponize fear, undermine institutions, exploit religion, target outsiders, and work to divide and conquer by rewriting history and eroding truth.

Most of these actions have been evident in the work of the MAGA faction in the U.S., and much harsher tactics are likely to follow if they succeed in taking over the country. We already have strong propaganda / brainwashing from Fox News that often undermines truth. The insurrection on January 6, 2021 was clear evidence of violence being condoned and encouraged. And we have the Big Lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, that has been often repeated and supported by a large number of faction members currently in Congress and in other elected offices.

If we want to avoid having a government similar to those in Russia, China, North Korea and Hungary, we must take action now to prevent the takeover. We need to build a strong coalition of progressive & moderate Democrats, Independents, and conservative Republicans, who support our founding values of democracy, freedom, and a government of, by, and for the people. We need to work together to elect individuals who are not part of the MAGA faction. And we need to begin the longer work of creating a democracy that better supports all of us, not just the wealthy and those in power.

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Fred Van Deusen

Computer Scientist, Researcher, Systems Thinker and Leader of Reclaim Our Democracy group: reclaimourdemocracy.org