Dear America,

Everyone should understand what's happening.  We are headed for a Putin-Maduro, Russo-Venezuelan style democracy, that is, a kleptocratic autocracy.   Donald Trump thinks he has found the means of consolidating his power to effect such a conversion in the shut-down of our government.  He is pressuring 800,000 people into supporting his demands because they have--at least Donald Trump thinks they do--no choice but to condemn his opposition and cleave to his paternalistic, self-aggrandizing mantle.  I have heard politicians fulminate while crying crocodile tears about Trump's tactics, implying all the while that the support of the majority of the American people is almost guaranteed them, and they may be right.  The majority seems to see that this whole Trump-McConnell enterprise is just a power grab, and they are resolved to oppose it...now.  But what is going to happen when the sympathies of the American people are sufficiently stimulated on behalf of those 800,000 fellow citizens?  Will knowing resolve turn into submissive pragmatism?  Will people say to the Democrats, we think you are right, but it's just $5 billion to give cover to the bombastic bastard, which won't change our opinion of him, while it's the staff of life for those poor government workers who can't feed their families or pay their rent.

The problem at that point will be that we will have armed a tyrant with a weapon to use against us.  Putin has nefarious allies within the Russian government and without, and Maduro has the still-loyal army to suppress the mass's protests.  The end result is the same in both cases: assassination and imprisonment of political foes, stifling of the free press and other sources of factual information and worst of all, a self-perpetuating accretion of power that is nigh unto impossible to reverse.  I know that sounds far-fetched, but look at Putin in particular.  He rose to power out of a popular groundswell for another leader who promised to set the people free.  In pre-Putin Russia, he was first a KGB thug who managed to seduce his predecessor, a puerile drunkard lacking the sense to come in out of the rain.  But he was possessed of the impudence in the face of governmental power to capture the support of the public in a vacuum of governance competency created by a decades long deprivation of an opportunity for anyone among the masses to develop it.  Boris Yeltzin, Putin's patron, in essence handed Putin the keys to the kingdom and Putin has never looked back because his subjects have a history as long as they can remember of true believing.  Coincidentally, so do those in Trump's base.

The only question now is, can Trump use this tactic in successive cases to get what he wants.  Can he extort from the American people in the name of his base the capitulation of his political adversaries by threatening their personal solvency and well-being.  Can he harness his arrogance and the compassion of the American people to the extent that he can do this over and over again at will? Can he successfully coopt the many by menacing the few?  You've seen him in action, America.  What do you think?

Your friend,

Mike

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