Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal pulled no punches Monday night while highlighting the threat that former President Donald Trump and his right-wing movement pose to U.S. democracy and the American people.
“Donald Trump is a fascist. Period,” the Washington Democrat tweeted just seven weeks before this year’s midterm elections. “We have to reject this dangerous movement across the country in November—our democracy depends on it.”
Jayapal’s comments came in response to New York Times reporting that “Trump appeared to more fully embrace QAnon on Saturday, playing a song at a political rally in Ohio that prompted attendees to respond with a salute in reference to the cultlike conspiracy theory’s theme song.”
As MSNBC opinion columnist Zeeshan Aleem wrote Tuesday:
Trump is pivoting from keeping a calculated distance from QAnon conspiracy theory adherents to openly embracing them—and encouraging them to see him as a messiah-like figure. There’s a clear political motive behind it. Trump is trying to mobilize supporters who are most likely to do illicit, violent things to help return him to office.
On his Truth Social platform last week, Trump reposted an image of himself wearing a “Q” lapel pin, overlaid with “The Storm is Coming” and the “WWG1WGA.” The acronym is a QAnon catchphrase that stands for “Where we go one, we go all,” and the storm is, as The Associated Press puts it, a reference to “Trump’s final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.” The QAnon conspiracy theory holds that Trump’s secret mission is to uncover a secret cabal of satan-worshipping Democratic pedophiles—a cause that requires him to return to the White House.
While Trump—who faces multiple ongoing legal investigations—is widely expected to run for president again in 2024, for the next several weeks, his movement is focused on key congressional and state races.
The ex-president was in Ohio last weekend to support Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance—one of 195 candidates on the ballot in November who have fully embraced Trump’s “Big Lie” that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election, according to a recent FiveThirtyEight analysis.
FiveThirtyEight found that along with the election-denying GOP nominees for the U.S. House and Senate as well as governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, there are 61 so-called “doubters” and 115 candidates who have declined to clarify their position. Notably, those numbers don’t include the state legislative candidates who also back the Big Lie—and as Common Dreams reported Monday, government watchdogs are warning that the Republican takeover of state legislatures in recent years could lead to a right-wing rewrite of the U.S Constitution.
In recent weeks, numerous top Democrats—including Jayapal, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and President Joe Biden—have issued fresh warnings about the threat that Trump-aligned Republicans and their Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement pose.
“We are at a precipice and we’re counting on the American people to come through—and I have hope that people will realize that we have to turn this clock back,” Jayapal said on MSNBC earlier this month.
After Biden delivered a prime-time address on the danger of Trump and his allies at the beginning of September, polling suggested the majority of Americans agree. One survey found that 58% percent of respondents—including a quarter of Republicans—think the MAGA movement “is threatening America’s democratic foundations.”
Echoing his earlier speech, Biden declared during a Democratic National Committee reception last week that “those who love this country—Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans—we got to be stronger, more determined, more committed to saving American democracy than the extreme MAGA Republicans are to destroying American democracy. We have to organize, we have to mobilize, and we have to vote. Get out and vote.”
Lawmakers including Jayapal on Tuesday marked National Voter Registration Day by encouraging Americans to make sure they are all set to participate in the upcoming elections.
“From the damage done to our voting rights in Shelby County v. Holder to the flagrant lies that led to January 6, our democracy is in crisis,” tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). “Do your part to preserve our democracy by registering to vote.”
While the country’s current democratic crisis has generated fear, it has also inspired hope, as illustrated by an interview with David Becker and Major Garrett, co-authors of the new book The Big Truth—about Trump’s 2020 election lies—published Tuesday by Vanity Fair.
“We are in a perilous moment in American democracy. And it is easy to focus on those who failed to stand up for democracy when given the opportunity, and we do in the book,” said Becker, an elections expert. “But what’s also sometimes somewhat harder is to note the large numbers of people who have stood up, and often at great personal peril to themselves, often at great political peril to themselves, often at physical peril to themselves and their families.”
Garrett, a journalist, told Vanity Fair that “what gives me optimism is the longevity of our country. We have stared into abysses before and pulled back from them.”
“100,000 people in 2020 signed up to be poll workers for the first time, jumping into a breach of a situation that was not familiar to them. Not because they were going to get paid, not because they were going to be lionized in their community. Not because they were going to get a promotion. But because it mattered at a very basic civic level of accountability and participation,” he noted. “And I’m gonna bank our country’s future on their optimism.”