The most overhyped stories of 2023

Welcome, fellow political enthusiasts, to the ultimate rundown of the year's most hyped-up, exaggerated, and downright overblown political sagas! From politicians who were hailed as up-and-coming only to fizzle, to news anchors juggling breaking news like hot potatoes, to conspiracy theories juicier than a ripe watermelon on a summer day, I give you my contenders for the most overrated, overreacted, and overhyped political stories of the year!

1. The white knight: Ron DeSantis

Most outlets and pundits, including CNN’s now unemployed Chris Cillizza, said Trump was heading for a reckoning. The Republican Party still wants a right-wing white supremacist wannabe dictator, but one without the immense stupidity and baggage. Whatever to do? DeSantis was the lone bright spot for the Republicans on election night 2022. He defeated the Democratic opponent by nearly 20 points and even won the blue county of Miami-Dade. He really fit the bill: He hated the right people and promoted the wrong people. He had zero qualms with violating the state constitution again and again while daring someone to do something about it. He literally bullied childrenattacked teachers, and proceeded to pick fights with our state’s largest employers if they offered the slightest critiques of his destructive policies. Our state legislature gave in to his bullying repeatedly, even allowing him to illegally redraw the political map. DeSantis was the one to watch in 2023, we were told.

So what went wrong? In a word, everything. DeSantis waited too long, he didn’t prepare, and wasn’t used to having to answer real questions from journalists outside of Florida, much less talk and act like a regular human. There was his campaign’s launch, which was a complete disaster on Twitter, and making gaffe after gaffe on the campaign trail. Let’s not forget the viral clips of him awkwardly laughing at nothing, wiping his fingers on supporters, and wearing elf boots to appear taller. He showed everyone that he was one weird dude. He continued to refuse to denounce Nazism, and his campaign even put out ads embracing Nazi imagery. He blew up at reporters for asking sensible questions and decided to go all in on defending the merits of slavery.  

Ron and Casey DeSantis.

His wife, nicknamed “Tacky O” here in Florida, was better, but not by much. She crisscrossed the state with the Moms for Liberty crowd and her “Mamas for DeSantis” before they became super-toxic. She tried to humanize Ron by crying into the camera saying how wonderful he was for finally agreeing to drop off his children at school because there was a brief time she just wasn’t able to. (Because she was fighting cancer!

Oh, and Ron refused to take on the front-runner he was scared to mention, fearing he’d alienate Trump’s supporters. This was, by far, his dumbest decision. Trump gave him no quarter and used him as a punching bag every day while DeSantis just stood there.  

Now Ron is behind Trump in the polls by 39 points ... in Florida! His own state legislature no longer fears him, as most of them have endorsed Trump. DeSantis’ requests for appointments and ideas for legislation have been ignored, which was unheard of last year. His entire political career has collapsed, and he’s been forced to debate other governors since Trump has completely ignored him. The best news is that he won’t even be a contender for 2028. He’s hated by the MAGA crowd and just about everyone else. The most-hyped threat to America is now a joke. It couldn’t have happened to a worse guy. 

RELATED STORY: DeSantis blasting Trump is too little, too late—but not for Biden

2. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter/Twitter Files

There was a time that Twitter was a huge deal. It altered the media landscape, changed our political discourse, and amplified marginalized voices. It provided a platform for citizen journalists and sparked movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Yet when plutocrat Elon Musk wanted to control it as his plaything, there was much fear from everyone except the right, who thought they would finally have a wide-ranging legitimate platform to spew their hateful and conspiratorial nonsense. Musk himself promised to release what he dubbed the "Twitter Files" late last year, which several outlets described as a “big deal.” 

In fact, it was a desperate attempt to legitimize the well-worn conservative narrative that the suppression of Hunter Biden’s “laptop” proved collusion with the so-called deep state. This had conservatives salivating as they felt it was going to be spectacle on par with the Jan. 6 hearings. Democratic careers would be destroyed and Jim Jordan would lead it all. Kevin McCarthy promised a major hearing.

We're learning in real-time how Twitter colluded to silence the truth about Hunter Biden's laptop just days before the 2020 presidential election.⁰ In 32 days, the new House Republican majority will get answers for the American people and the accountability they deserve.

— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) December 3, 2022

Have you heard or thought about that since? The only thing it “showed” was that Twitter's former content moderators were doing their best to fight political disinformation. When people say “Twitter” now, (I refuse to call it “X”), they don’t think about Hunter Biden’s laptop. They instead associate the word with Elon Musk’s antisemitism and his multibillion-dollar business failure. In fact, 2023 might well be regarded as the fall of Elon.   

Gone are the days Elon would make an appearance on “The Big Bang Theory” to cheers or be taken seriously as some kind of scientific guru. What he showed the world is not just what a terrible business man he is, but also what an awful person he is. His attempt to turn a once-prominent social media platform into a forum for the far right has flopped spectacularly, with major advertisers leaving in droves, which happened even before Elon literally told them in a fit of rage to “F off.”

Elon Musk.

Millions upon millions of users, including many celebrities who made extensive use of the platform, have signed off. And while it’s still being used by some—including me—its reputation is now synonymous with misinformation and hate since Elon decided it was a good idea to elevate Nazis and conspiracy monsters. (As I write this, he has reinstated Alex Jones.) Elon leveraged Tesla stock to buy Twitter, effectively sabotaging both ventures. Twitter, which he bought for $44 billion, is now worth to be estimated somewhere around $19 billion. My dumb cat could have done a better job—at least she wouldn’t have tweeted that Jewish communities were anti-white. The fact that Elon still has money isn’t a testament to his professed “genius,” but rather a testament to how broken our economic system is and the benefits of generational wealth. 

Regardless, the hype was misplaced. Twitter once had the power to set the narrative of the masses, and that is what Elon and his ilk wanted. Yet its reputation is in such tatters that it’s seen as just another toxic waste dump that conservatives like to use. Threads, which was Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter, is abhorrent but it says something that tens of millions of users left Twitter the day it first launched. There are also now other options to use, such as Bluesky and Mastodon, so Twitter becomes more irrelevant each day.

RELATED STORY: Elon Musk goes to war against X users who dare tell the truth

3. NY Times/Sienna poll

After the 2022 midterms, Biden held a comfortable lead over Trump. No one cared. In October this year, a poll showed Trump with a slight lead in several battleground states. Other polls disagreed, but that didn’t matter. The media went nuts, and the typical Democratic bedwetters shouted the sky was falling. Almost immediately after the poll was released, Democrats swept every major race in the 2023 election. They flipped the Virginia House, held the Virginia Senate, elected a Democrat in Kentucky and New Jersey, and damn near almost won Mississippi if not for the shenanigans. They won every ballot measure, every important judgeship, and every important local race. It was one of the best elections in our party’s history. The result? The press doubled down on Biden being in trouble

Damn. What do you suppose they would have written if the Democrats actually lost?

Need more proof of bias? Our economy is outperforming every metric and is the envy of the world, but people have only recently begun feeling it. It takes time, but it will happen—especially within the next few months.

And yet we have headlines like this:

Really? The economy is booming! (Which could have been its own overhyped story from the doom and gloom predictions last year.) So the economy is great but once again, this means bad news for Joe Biden? I guess if the economy were in the toilet, he’d be better off?  

Here we are, one year out. We are winning elections, people are employed, inflation is dropping, and Trump’s convictions haven’t even started. They are going to be coming fast and ugly, and that’s just not going to sell with non-cult suburbia. In fact, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll said 31% of Republican voters won’t vote for Trump if a jury convicts him of a felony.  

Clearly, despite what Republicans say, the media is not Biden’s friend. Trump called to terminate the Constitution and promised to be a dictator on Day One, but you gotta let Trump be Trump, I guess. The media wants a horserace and they’ll get one. But I’m not worried about a poll a year from an election, and you shouldn’t be either. Even good polls only give a snapshot in time, not a prediction one year away. Meanwhile, Biden has more accomplishments under his belt than any Democratic president in modern history, the economy is on the upswing, and the people are just beginning to feel it.  

I went back to 2011 for some perspective, and Obama's former campaign manager said the exact same story is playing out. 

Nate Silver declared our campaign and President Obama “toast.”

A lot of Democrats romanticize the 2012 Obama campaign. But if you were there, you know it was a knock-down, drag-out battle — not just with Republicans, but with bad media narratives. One such narrative hit us on Nov. 3, 2011, when the New York Times Magazine published an analysis giving Obama a 17 percent chance to win reelection.

When that magazine hit my desk, I knew it was trouble. Not because I believed it, but because of the anxiety it would stir up. Immediately, we had donors, elected officials, and my Mom absolutely freaking out. We couldn’t get supporters to rallies. People were calling for me to be fired.

We all know how that played out. It never changes. The same when we were told there would be a red wave in 2022 and Democrats were in trouble in 2023. Yes, there is a real danger of Trump winning: there is and always was, even if Biden weren’t our nominee. But Biden is doing everything right. He’s not only the incumbent this time, he’s beaten Trump before. He is constantly underestimated, he knows what he’s doing, and he has a crack campaign team. A week is a long time in politics, but a year is an eon.

By the way, multiple polls one year ago were coronating Ron DeSantis, including this one reported by U.S. News and World Report:

The Florida governor would beat Trump by double-digits in four critical states, according to a poll released by an influential conservative group just a day before the former president may announce his 2024 bid.

RELATED STORY: How can Democrats persuade the voters they need?

4. Numerous GOP House investigations

Most stories about the imminent GOP takeover of the House last year focused on the myriad investigations that would haunt the Biden administration. The “weaponization of government” was supposed to be the big one, and it flopped as hard as Kevin McCarthy’s disastrous impeachment inquiry. It was so bad that even Fox News chose not to cover it. But there were so many hearings, and none of them stuck. There were hearings on border security, Afghanistan, one on the deep state (seriously), the Biden family’s business practices, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, and even one on the Pentagon’s alleged cover-up of space aliens. Great job. I’m not even touching the litany of attempts to find things to impeach Biden, which is still ongoing one year later. 

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The fact is that most of these groups only met once or twice, didn’t have anyone of substance attending outside of discredited right-wing cranks, and was completely ignored by the public. Even right-wing outlets were embarrassed and frustrated. People know exactly what the Republicans are trying to do in the House, and they just aren’t interested. 

In fact, there were only two big stories from the House this year: the fact that they couldn’t pick a leader, and the fact that the GOP had to admit in their official report that they found no wrongdoing by Joe Biden. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Nothing they do at this point is going to hurt Biden next year because their sham investigations are a joke, and all the press energy is going to be sucked up by Trump’s actual multiple criminal cases. That is the most painful reality of all that the right wing is now facing.  

RELATED STORY: House approves impeachment inquiry into President Biden as Republicans rally behind investigation

5. Trump’s indictments will rip this country apart

Once again at good ol’ CNN:

“A criminal prosecution of an ex-president and current presidential candidate by the administration that succeeded him would subject the country’s political and judicial institutions to more extreme strain than even Trump has yet managed. If Trump were indicted, the uproar could be so corrosive that it’s fair to ask whether such an action would be truly in the national interest – assuming special counsel Jack Smith assembles a case that would have a reasonable chance of success in court.”

It wasn’t as bad as when the disgraced former CNN legal pundit Jeff Toobin begged Merrick Garland not to prosecute Trump, or when Trump himself promised “death and destruction” if he were to be indicted for his many crimes. I remember watching a pundit this time last year calling the Jan. 6 riots a “tea party” compared to the violence that would occur if Trump was indicted. Trump also promised the biggest protest the world would ever see would happen after his first indictment.

This is the reality of what actually happened. 

Two lone demonstrators show their support for the former President outside of Trump Tower

— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) March 21, 2023

More reporters than protesters showed up. But the second time would be different. Then the third time. Nope. Then the fourth time:

Jack Smith was there. Gave live shots of the massive protest at tRump's 4th indictment. So scary!

— Lea💙DragonSlayin💛💙SoothSayin💙💛VaXXinatedLib🟧 (@LeeZee_Bee) August 14, 2023

I’m hearing the same garbage now about if Trump is jailed for his crimes that it will amount to a civil war. It won’t. The people who ruined their lives storming the Capitol serve as a reminder to everyone who thinks about putting their lives in jeopardy for Trump. He could have pardoned all of the J6 insurrectionists, but didn’t do that for any of them. He just doesn’t care. He desperately wants violence and has outright called for it, but it hasn’t happened. There will be a few nutballs for sure, but we’ll deal with them. 

RELATED STORY: After 40 witnesses and 43 days of testimony, here's what we learned at Trump’s civil fraud trial

6. Moms for Liberty school takeover:

Going on the Google time machine, there many stories about this new powerful group—some of which were cheered: 

The lazy media bought into the narrative that it was just two moms selling T-shirts that spawned a nationwide movement on banning books, bullying LGBTQ+ teens, and terrorizing teachers and administrators. The fact that this was an astroturfed right-wing takeover attempt of public schools funded by spiteful billionaires didn’t seem to register at first.  

Protest sign outside Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors summit in Pennsylvania.

Yet their multiple times quoting Hitler, their open antisemitism, their bigoted book bans on everything from Anne Frank to Amanda Gorman, and their designation as a hate group turned many people against them. And that’s not to mention their most recent sex scandal. (Don’t all right-wing “values” groups have at least one sex scandal?)

The most recent election gave them a drubbing even in deep red areas. The headlines now read a little differently:

They’ll still be around next year, but no one is tolerating their BS anymore, least of all this amazing Sarasota student who was personally attacked by Bridget Zeigler, the Moms for Liberty co-founder on the Sarasota school board who is embroiled in a sex scandal and refuses to resign. 

Holy shit — this is fucking fire. 🔥

— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) December 17, 2023

RELATED STORY: Florida school board recommends ouster of Moms for Liberty co-founder over Republican sex scandal

Those are my picks. If you have any that you think I missed, please put in the comments. 

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Evangelicals excused porn under Trump, but are ready to restart their crusade

Bad movies relax me. I still enjoy watching the early ’80s Christian paranoia film, Rock: It’s Your Decision. It’s an anti-rock music film featuring a boy who becomes warped by his fundamentalist parents into becoming a judgmental jerk. It’s not enough that he decides to no longer listen to what he considers “evil” music, like Barry Manilow, but he demands that all of his friends and classmates stop listening as well. He yells at them, calls them sinners, and then casts himself as a persecuted victim when they ignore him. (So, no, these people don’t ever change.)

The evangelical war on music seems ridiculous now, but it actually helped lay the groundwork for today’s nonstop culture wars. This initial foray into morality politics laid the template: Construct outrage around a perceived inherent evil force designed to disrupt the "traditional" family and national values.

Pornography is another issue popularized by evangelicals in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan even established a commission on pornography to try to “stamp it out.” The attacks more or less fizzled by the 1990s, when Republican moralists tried to take down Bill Clinton with an impeachment fixated on his sexual exploits. Instead, his popularity soared, and Democrats gained seats in the House.  

The war on pornography limped along for the years that followed, being replaced by focused attacks on gay marriage and reproductive freedom. Then, in what has got to be the most egregious display of hypocrisy, evangelical leaders briefly suspended their fight against porn because they feared it would lead to attacks on Donald Trump. Trump was not only a porn aficionado who spoke in lustful terms about his own daughter, but had also used campaign money to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels, whom he slept with during his wife Melania’s pregnancy. Yet the religious right excused, and even justified, his behavior. (Just as they are doing right now with evangelical Republican Dennis Hastert and Rep. Matt Gaetz.) As a direct result of evangelicals’ glorification of Trump, pornography was able to “enter the political and cultural mainstream.”

Evangelical leaders were brutally mocked by late-night comedians for “normalizing porn” over Trump. The GOP had essentially given up on pornography as a culture war. In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell, who led the Moral Majority, went to war over Playboy magazine, saying Jimmy Carter’s interview lent “credence and dignity” to what he considered a vulgar publication. Yet when Trump was campaigning in 2016, Jerry Falwell Jr. posed for a photo of himself and Trump in front of a framed cover of that exact same magazine with a provocative photo. (This was also long before Jerry Falwell Jr.’s own sex scandals became public knowledge.)  

Even when Christian nationalists finally decided it was time to try to renew their crusade against pornography after Trump left office, they didn’t quite know how to do it. After all, most Americans now believe pornography is morally acceptable, and they don’t take kindly to being lectured on morality by hypocrites. Moralist lectures and propaganda films simply don’t work anymore, if they ever did, which is why we will never see a film with the name Pornography: It’s Your Decision. (Actually, there are a few low-budget Christian anti-pornography films, but they are really bad.) Instead, they did something much more sinister, but effective.

One of the biggest Christian anti-porn lobbies, Morality in Media, the one that pushed for Reagan to declare war on pornography, figured it was on the side of a losing battle. This is a group that has stated, falsely, that pornography is a public health crisis, and still classifies Cosmopolitan and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as “hardcore pornography.” However, they decided they could be effective if they managed to disguise their agenda, so that’s exactly what they did. Morality in Media completely rebranded into the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)—which was meant to sound similar to the legitimate nonprofit called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The NCOSE website was scrubbed of any mention of morality or religion.

Their rebranding ploy worked, as they are now often quoted by mainstream media, and even get an audience with Democratic politicians. Instead of preaching about general moral decay, this group succeeds by conflating consensual sexual expression with serious sexual crimes that everyone agrees are bad, such as sexual abuse and human trafficking.

By deceptively rebranding as an organization to fight sex crimes as opposed to policing pornography, their budget and spending have exploded. This has allowed them to host conferences, workshops, and seminars for other organizations so they can copy their model. They teach their questionable strategies about not disclosing religious origins, make false comparisons of porn to human trafficking and slavery, and constantly (and falsely) claim that pornography is a public health crisis. One of their apprentice organizations was a shady evangelical group called Exodus Cry.  

Scene from “God Loves Uganda”

Exodus Cry started as a prayer group tied to a church in the Charismatic Christian community. Charismatic Christians believe people can manifest physical, supernatural experiences such as prophecy, spirit healing, speaking in tongues, and—within some factions—even snake handling. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett identifies as a Charismatic Christian, which some refer to as a cult within Christianity.

The church was called the International House of Prayer, or IHOP. (And yes, they were sued for that.) The church is famous for being featured in the documentary God Loves Uganda, which detailed a church leader’s pressure on Uganda to not just condemn homosexuality, but to promote the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that allowed the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Sadly, American evangelical missionaries have strongly pushed anti-gay messaging in Africa for decades, including prominent evangelical leaders like Rick Warren and John Ashcroft.

In the U.S., Exodus Cry got into the anti-pornography business, but took NCOSE’s advice and “altered its mission statement to remove all references to Jesus Christ and prayer.” Unfortunately, Exodus Cry and NCOSE have been very effective in bypassing traditional right-wing media, and instead promote their message of online censorship on non-conservative platforms such as Good Morning America and CNN.

They were at their most effective when it came to supporting two laws, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which were sold to lawmakers as a way to fight sex trafficking. In reality, these laws amended the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to remove the protection granted to websites for the content of its users if that content is found to “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” In other words, under SESTA-FOSTA, any website with any sexual content could be feasibly held legally liable for sex trafficking, a term that is very broadly defined in the legislation. But what the laws don’t do is anything to target actual illegal sex trafficking.

The laws are written vaguely enough so that anti-porn groups have been successfully going after payments of creators using cryptocurrencies or credit cards. Legal internet videos and escort services have also been targets. Although the laws are supposed to focus on prostitution only, anti-porn activists were able to define pornography as "performance prostitution." This means a platform has to be worried about being sued if a striptease artist performs online.

These laws also mandate a 25-year prison sentence for anyone who “acts with reckless disregard that such conduct contributes to sex trafficking.” This is why personal ads disappeared on Craigslist. 

Yet these laws were so bad that they damaged how the internet is governed, since the laws didn’t bother to differentiate between consensual and nonconsensual sex work. Taking down consensual sex work sites means sex workers could not vet or choose clients online, which is much safer than working on the streets. Platforms that had groups for sex workers, such as spaces where they could list dangerous clients to avoid, were also taken down.

FOSTA-SESTA also allowed NCOSE to go after OnlyFans. This is an online platform that allows people to create content in the form of photos, videos, and livestreams and sell them via a monthly membership. Most creators are fitness trainers and models, but some make “adult content.” The site exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as many unemployed people turned to the site to survive.

However, the new legislation nearly succeeded in shutting this site down by pressuring banks and payment processors to sever ties. Going after banks and payment processors is part of the latest coordinated anti-porn campaign by these Christian activist groups, and this tactic has proven extremely effective. After credit card companies dropped Pornhub, it removed over 10 million videos—over 80% of its content.

Joy Rider performs during a burlesque show at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 16, 2022.

OnlyFans was temporarily forced to ban the posting of any sexual material, but was able to fight back and restore their status. Most people on OnlyFans use it to supplement their income, yet they suddenly found themselves targeted by the anti-porn crusaders. “Camming,” which is when someone is requested to perform certain activities (sexual or nonsexual) on a webcam for paying clients, is by far one of the safest types of sex work as it’s done in the safety of their own home. Shutting that down forces sex workers who need money to consider taking more risks, like going back to meeting strangers in public without being able to vet them. Going after people on OnlyFans doesn’t help anyone; It just takes away a safe environment and criminalizes sexuality.  

Slate talked to a woman who was a burlesque performer, which generally includes provocative and creative stripping, but was locked down in her New York apartment during COVID-19. Not being allowed on sets or events, OnlyFans saved her from becoming homeless and greatly supplemented her lost income. Right-wing organizations and politicians are trying hard to ban people like her from working, but have never expressed interest in helping them if their ploy to ban these sites succeed.

The anti-pornography bills are part of a unique conservative strategy that was labeled Project Blitz, which is modeled after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC provides model draft legislation for conservative politicians to push through their respective state legislatures in order to pass a right-wing agenda. Project Blitz uses the same strategy, but for Christian Nationalism:  

Chief on Project Blitz’s agenda—which they laid out in a 148-page 2018 “playbook”—was enabling religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, promoting the Bible in public schools and plastering the words “In God We Trust” across license plates and government buildings.

But they’re also expressly concerned with destroying all forms of porn, sex work and premarital sex. In their playbook, they claim that states would “benefit” from public policy that limits sexual intercourse to “only between a married, heterosexual couple,” and erroneously associate any other type of interpersonal gyrating with an undefined, yet “enormously expensive disease.”

I should mention that not all Christians believe pornography is evil. There’s the pastor who left her church because she felt called to become a stripper. One prominent OnlyFans Christian creator, Nita Marie, stated her belief that “Jesus would have loved sex workers.” There are also several Christian OnlyFans models, such as Lindsay Capuano, who makes over $200,000 a month, but insists she is a devout Christian.


— Lindsay Capuano (@Lindsay_capuano) June 28, 2019

Again, there are legitimate concerns about real sex crimes, such as human trafficking and revenge porn, that need to be addressed. Yet time, money, and resources are being devoted to attacking healthy, consensual sexual relationships.  

The same people who want to tell you what books to read, what medicines to take, what films to watch, what states you can travel to, and what you can do with your own body are the same ones screaming about freedom. This is all about having power over people, and turning our democracy into an authoritarian Christian nationalist society. It’s why evangelical leaders openly embrace someone with such moral failings as Trump, because he promised them power.

There has never been much of an interest from the right in fighting sex trafficking, but there has always been an interest in a war on sex. That is all about control. More specifically, this is another front in the war on women. Just as Christian men have had no issues with abortion when it’s their mistress or wife, they also have no issues with pornography when they are using it or benefiting from those who do. It’s everyone else who is the problem.

As always, there is a misogyny angle in the religious right’s war on pornography. Whether you agree with pornography as an industry or not, you must admit that it is primarily female-dominated. Content creators, such as on OnlyFans, are mostly women making videos for their customers, who are overwhelmingly white, straight, self-identified Christian men. In fact, the top nine states for pornography are all in the Bible Belt. 

If Republicans truly hate OnlyFans, which they don’t, they are free not to use it. One big reason that sites like OnlyFans are popular is that they provide the creator with a revenue stream they can use to either live off of or supplement their income. The creators have sole discretion over their content. They have power over their craft and their lives, and can make a living off it in a safe environment.

There is an argument to be made that many creators would prefer another line of work, but this would require a guaranteed living wage, affordable housing, food security, and access to health care. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called attention to this when conservatives, along with the New York Post, tried to shame a medic who used OnlyFans to literally make ends meet.

Leave her alone. The actual scandalous headline here is “Medics in the United States need two jobs to survive”

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 14, 2020

Yet the reality is there would still be people who do it because they want to, and that’s fine. Our religious, patriarchal society has been conditioned to treat sex like a dirty secret. Then, when men get caught watching porn, it feeds into that dirty-secret mentality. Too many religious leaders treat consensual sex like it’s a problem that needs to be eradicated. The problem has never been porn or sites that provide it, but the inability to deal with sex in a healthy way. Sadly, there is no law that can help with that.

New video shows Rep. Mike Nearman coaching people on how to breach Oregon Capitol

Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman let armed protestors into the state’s Capitol building in December, which led to a violent encounter with the police who sought to remove them. The protestors attacked the police and used pepper spray. 

Nearman willfully endangered the lives of those officers, along with the lives of his fellow lawmakers and Capitol staff. Although the original video of the Republican opening the door was pretty damning, a new video has emerged that leaves no doubt that the storming was planned.

Newly surfaced YouTube video shows Nearman giving instructions to his constituents on how to breach the Capitol building, step-by-step, in a scheme he calls “Operation Hall Pass.” During the in-person and live-streamed event on Dec. 16 gives his chuckling audience guidance on what to text him, where to stand, and how to get in. He knows what he is doing is illegal, which is why he intersperses his instructions with coy language. He says he will deny knowledge of the scheme, and claims he’s just rattling off random numbers—which happened to be his cell phone number. 

The Oregonian broke the story.

“We’re talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about and if you accuse me of knowing something about, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be” and he recites a phone number beginning with 971.

Nearman was speaking to an anti-union group called the Freedom Foundation, which is funded by billionaires such as Charles Koch and the DeVos family. And as we all know, his instructions were followed five days later, during a special session on Dec. 21.

Nearman lets in the mob

Democrats in charge of the legislature have already stripped Nearman of his committee assignments, and forced him to give up his badge to access the building.   He’s been asked to resign, but has refused. The Oregon GOP is, as expected, deadly silent and complicit, just as national Republicans have been about Jan. 6. 

Nearman also faces criminal charges.

This video compiles the Dec. 16 plotting and the Dec. 21 breach. 

NEW FOOTAGE: watch Oregon's @RepNearman tell people, step-by-step, how to breach the Oregon Capitol... with his assistance. Days later, the breach happened. Videos adapted from @Oregonian Story

— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) June 5, 2021

Additionally, during the Freedom Foundation plotting event, Nearman explained the best day for the breach, saying “Monday, you’ve got one crack at it there.” The anti-mask maniacs ultimately stormed the Capitol during a one-day special session, held just before Christmas … on a Monday.

Don’t for a second think that these conservative traitors aren’t above promoting violence to stay in power. As sick as this was, state Rep. Nearman is nowhere near as crazy as the current crop of Republicans in the nation’s House, like Reps. Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.  In what reality would someone think that any of these people would be “above” giving  advice and tours to insurrectionists prior to Jan. 6, which they have been accused of doing?

The truth is going to come out, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

There are many ways to rebalance the GOP-packed courts that go beyond expansion

Rather than any legitimate interpretation of constitutional law, all of the outcomes you can expect from the Supreme Court will now be solely based on how the decision will affect Republicans getting elected. It’s disturbing, because as I read and watch media figures discuss Biden’s lead, they bring up the Republican's lock on the judiciary as if overturning votes is just established precedent now. The federal courts, and especially the Supreme Court, have essentially been turned into an arm of the GOP. For the sake of the rule of law and its integrity, Democrats cannot allow this to stand.  

This disaster was in the making for many years before Mitch McConnell made up a rule in order to prevent the first African American president from appointing a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of his two-term presidency. McConnell blocked every single judicial appointment for the two years he had control of the Senate. This allowed him to turn 200 right-wing ideologues into federal judges during Donald Trump’s only presidential term. Trump named one-quarter of the appointments to the federal bench, including 53 Appellate Court appointees and now, a whopping three Supreme Court Justices.

Besides many of these appointees being rated “unqualified” by the American Bar Association, some picks were outright bizarre. Even Republican senators, like John Cornyn and John Kennedy, expressed Susan Collins-like concern. (Didn’t stop them from voting to confirm, though.) Yet Democrats, assuming they have the spine the American people are demanding, can use several mechanisms available to rebalance the courts this upcoming January. The next two years will likely be our only window. There has been a lot of talk about expanding the courts, which we should absolutely do in order to negate McConnell’s illegitimate court packing scheme. But there are other options to consider.

Judges are supposed to rule fairly and impartially on the laws before them. Before I get into Amy Coney Barrett, let’s review the batch of judges you don’t hear about. Trump and McConnell used over 200 of them to flood our judiciary; let’s see if they seem likely to rule fairly or impartially.

Trump-appointed District Judge Thomas Farr

Fourth Circuit Judge Allison Rushing has ties to a right-wing hate group. Lawrence VanDyke received a stunning rebuke from the ABA, saying he was “lacking in knowledge,” and didn’t have “a commitment to being truthful.” He now sits on the Ninth Circuit.

Appellate Judge Mark Norris said being Muslim is synonymous with being a terrorist, Judge Thomas Farr got rubber-stamped despite his hostility to African Americans, and Judge Leonard Grasz received a unanimous “not qualified” rating from the ABA for being ill-tempered, closed-minded, and completely disregarding precedent.

And then there were the bad ones.

Jeff Mateer said transgender children were part of “Satan’s plan.” Ryan Bounds wrote that there was nothing “inherently wrong with the University failing to punish an alleged rapist—regardless of his guilt—in the absence of adequate certainty.” McConnell pushed his 37-year old former intern, Justin Walker, to the DC Court of Appeals despite his utter lack of experience and unqualified rating by the American Bar Association. Nonetheless, he was rushed through. His predecessor, Judge Thomas Griffith, retired so suddenly and unexpectedly that an advocacy group filed a complaint to see if McConnell pushed him out. In the meantime, Walker’s decisions have been so bad that they’ve been compared to Breitbart screeds.

And then there’s the newest Justice, Amy Coney Barrett. She’s never tried a case, never argued an appeal, and only became a judge in 2017 thanks to Trump. She is so far to the right that she criticized former Justice William Brennan for saying his oath to uphold the law trumped any obligation to his Roman Catholic faith. She stated that judges don’t need to listen to precedent if they don’t like the ruling. She wrote that calling someone the n-word at work doesn’t make it a hostile work environment. She reversed a rape lawsuit because the rape of a teenager by a prison guard fell outside “the scope of his employment.”

Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas

Sounds like she’ll feel right at home with the two sexual predators the GOP has already put on the Supreme Court.

Facing far less scrutiny, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham just broke committee rules again and advanced five more lower court nominees. One is Trumpist Kathryn Mizelle, a 33-year old who graduated law school just a few years ago. She doesn’t even meet the fundamental standard for consideration as a district judge, which requires practicing law for 12 years. Yet McConnell is running out of ideologues and time, so she’ll likely be confirmed as well, rules be damned.  

There are many others, but suffice it to say, we need to do something. I’ve compiled a list of options from legal scholars that Democrats need to consider—the sooner the better.

Investigate and remove the judges who committed perjury

In McConnell’s rush to ram through judges, investigations were pushed aside. Investigations that need to happen. Further, legal analyst Glenn Kirschner is convinced that several unqualified judges lied under oath, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The FBI was expressly forbidden to complete its investigation of Kavanaugh, including multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. But Kavanaugh exposed clear discrepancies in his testimony when he first learned of the sexual assault allegations brought against him. He claimed that he had only learned of one of his accuser’s allegations after it was published in The New Yorker, but that changed after NBC News published text messages he sent apparently discussing the accusations. He was also criticized for giving clearly inaccurate definitions to slang terms in his yearbook, and inaccurate details about his tenure in the George W. Bush White House.

There is absolutely no reason for Democrats to excuse perjury with Kavanaugh—or with any other judge—just because Republicans excused it. There’s also no excuse for ignoring the blatant corruption of Clarence Thomas either. Some might worry that Republicans will try to launch impeachment proceedings against Democratic-appointed judges as retaliation when they reclaim majorities.

Go for it, GOP.

Democrats nominate the most qualified, vetted judges possible. Obama refused to even consider a judge who received an “unqualified” rating from the ABA. The Republicans, on the other hand, will nominate clueless monsters, because the right ideology trumps actual qualifications. And so Democrats need not be timid about the mandate they are going to be handed. They need not be afraid to investigate, impeach, and have bad apples removed. That’s not punishment, it’s justice.

Citizens’ Brigade

Another idea from Kirschner: As mentioned, several of the judges picked weren’t just unqualified, but like Trump, are really bad and just can’t help stop themselves from doing bad things. A citizens’ brigade could be put together that would observe all of these judges in action. When one of these judges engages in misconduct, such as displays open hostility or enjoys "making inappropriately partisan statements,” they can be referred for discipline and even removal.

Filing a complaint for judicial misconduct is as simple as filling out a form that anyone can use. If anything, this brigade could serve as a watchdog to curb egregious abuses.

Require supermajority for cases involving federal statutes

Yale Law School professor Samuel Moyn and University of Chicago law professor Ryan Doerfler suggested a powerful option for Congress: Pass a law that requires a Supreme Court supermajority for certain cases. There shouldn’t ever be a partisan split on federal statutes. The all-too common 5-4 rulings that we have grown used to with all conservative Justices voting against the liberal bloc made it clear that politics was influencing the decision. (Now it will be 6-3.) Congress can require federal statutes to have unanimous or nearly unanimous decisions from the Justices involved. Moyn and Doerfler’s paper outlines the reasoning.

Proposals to require a supermajority to declare federal legislation invalid would, for instance, preserve but severely constrain the Supreme Court’s ability to intervene in federal policymaking. Barring an unusually lopsided bench, the Supreme Court would remain able to step in in cases of uncontroversial constitutional violation. In more closely contested cases, though, it would fall upon members of Congress and the president to decide what the Constitution permits. In this way, a supermajority rule for judicial review would effectively implement a Thayerian “clear error” standard for judicial review.

Jurisdiction Stripping

Congress has the power to specify that certain legislation is exempt from judicial review. It’s called "jurisdiction stripping." Under two articles of the Constitution—the congressional powers clause and the judicial vesting clause—Congress can create and place limits upon federal courts. Congress also has the power to limit certain appeals to the Supreme Court under the Exceptions Clause.

Congress has no power to limit original jurisdiction, but it can explicitly limit appellate jurisdiction. In English, this means that Congress can essentially eliminate judicial review of certain federal legislative actions. Congress can also require that such review goes through the state courts as opposed to the federal courts. Congress has the power, if it chooses to use it.

Defying the court

When Antonin Scalia died, McConnell made up a rule that no justice could be appointed in a presidential election year … a rule he enforced right up until Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. When the Trump administration was ordered to continue the census until the end of October, it decided it wouldn’t. The administration ignored any and all rulings against them on returning migrant children it had kept in cages. The administration ignored Congress’ role in determining the budget and announced it would allocate the money however it damn well pleased. The administration violated the Hatch Act with impunity. No one was punished. Democrats need to take note: There isn’t a game if only one side plays by the rules.

Here’s the deal: the Supreme Court derives its authority from people’s belief in its impartiality. It has no armed forces and no enforcement mechanism. Yet if the justices are seen as an extension of a political party, there is no moral reason and no legal consequence for ignoring hyper-partisan rulings. If statehood is granted to Washington, D.C. under the laws set by the Constitution, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas don’t get to take it away. Ignore them. If Amy Coney Barrett strikes down the ACA, ignore her. A President Joe Biden could use the Treasury to continue making subsidies. After all, that’s what Republicans would do. Biden could pardon anyone he wants with impunity. That’s what Trump is going to do.

There’s even a name for ignoring the Supreme Court: Departmentalism. This is defined as the theory that each branch of government has an equal and independent authority to interpret the Constitution for purposes of guiding its own actions. We’ve all ceded to the Supreme Court that five unelected Justices will be the final say in the land—but these five? Hell no.

Will this cause a constitutional crisis? Maybe, but it’s better than the alternative, and it also might finally motivate some real reform. Like the next proposal.

Establishment of Inter-Branch Disputes Court

Reality check: Our government is dysfunctional. The fact that I’m even writing this article proves it. Congressional dysfunction prevents the legislative branch from legislating, unless one party dominates both houses of Congress. As a result, we’ve seen lawmaking authority slowly being ceded to the executive branch, which undermines our Founding Fathers’ intentions. McConnell and Trump have wheeled out a huge spotlight and shone it upon the Founders’ shortsightedness on the Judiciary, which has been manipulated by a determined executive and complicit legislative branch. As a result, we now have a hopelessly partisan Supreme Court, which will primarily side with the party who put them there.

To restore the integrity of the court and faith in our government, Congress should create a completely nonpartisan Inter-Branch Disputes Court (IBDC) to handle the conflicts between the legislative and executive branches. A panel of judges could be selected by both major parties and require a supermajority confirmation. There have been so many lawsuits, for example, between President Trump and the Democratic House of Representatives; an IBDC could have quickly resolved all of them.

Moreover, next year, we are headed for clashes with a Democratic Congress and White House against a very right-wing Supreme Court. We will be facing many real scenarios where the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 partisan ruling, will be attempting to undo major Democratically passed legislation and block attempts to expand rights.

For example, SCOTUS will likely rule that no votes may be counted after Election Day. In Pennsylvania, the GOP made the ridiculous argument that counting votes after Election Day was somehow akin to giving people extra time to vote. If Barrett had been on the court, that decision would have likely ended differently.

Imagine if SCOTUS starts making decisions that ban all states from counting votes early but also bans them counting votes after Election Day. Imagine if the next Congress made a law that banned partisan-gerrymandering only to have SCOTUS throw it out. Heck, imagine a Supreme Court that bans early voting—or just curbs early voting for young people, like Florida did. Right-wing partisans cannot be the final arbiters of our democracy. An arbiter can only be effective if both sides believe they will be given a fair hearing. With an IBDC, the panel would always be balanced.

Expanding the courts

This is the money shot. For the counter-argument that this would allow Republicans to do the same, Aaron Belkin, a political science professor, put forward the best case for Democrats.

“If your wallet is stolen, you don’t forgo efforts to recover it just because it might be stolen again.”

For each of the three justices Trump illegitimately appointed, you need two to nullify. This expands the Supreme Court to 15. But we really should start by fixing the lower courts. We need to add seats to the district courts and the 13 appellate courts. At the very least, Democrats need to add one seat for every unqualified judge pushed through.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Democrats need to get serious about the courts. If Democrats choose to do nothing next year, we will never be allowed to govern, no matter how much we win at the ballot box. We must take action over these stolen court seats. It may be another decade or two before we have a Democratic trifecta, and let’s face it, if we are ruled by the hundreds of unqualified disasters who Trump placed on the courts—who will obstruct us and make it their mission to limit Democratic victories—it may be decades more. Considering the fragile state of democracy in our country, not to mention the sad state of our planet, we do NOT have that kind of time.

Despite winning the legislative and executive branches, we will never get laws enacted on voting rights, gerrymandering, campaign finance, health care, or police reform. We won’t ever get representation for the disenfranchised citizens of Washington, D.C. or the right of self-determination for Puerto Rico. We won’t ever get any action on climate change. Meanwhile, we will lose rights that generations have fought so hard to achieve. The new conservative bloc is determined to revisit and overturn all kinds of precedent, involving everything from reproductive rights to same-sex marriage. 

The judges and justices will have no trouble twisting themselves into pretzels to explain their judicial logic. Already, three federal judges in North Carolina literally made the horrifying argument that it’s “unconstitutional” for states to protect voting rights—yet federal courts have an obligation to intervene to prevent voting expansion. Even if your state legislature doesn’t want voter suppression, it’s going to get it … because the GOP wants it that way.

These solutions are fair and necessary. Naturally, all of these solutions are opposed by the right-wing, because they have the advantage on the courts. The hypocritical flip-flop on Amy Coney Barrett shows they are not above changing rules to suit them. They decry any solution that promotes balance on the courts, such as letting an even number of judges be selected by party, as promoting “partisanship.” No, best we keep the status quo of allowing conservative partisans to strike down laws they don’t like.

Oddly enough, the Republicans throwing a fit over how undemocratic “court packing” is are all surprisingly okay with it when it involves STATE Supreme Courts, where ideological balance is at stake. The Republicans have stacked or attempted to stack the Supreme Courts in 11 states in recent years when they felt it could help them—using their core principle of “because we can.”

Any of the actions I’ve outlined need to be taken soon: if we wait until the GOP recaptures the Senate, it will be too late. The liberal justices can help by forcing votes on major issues early next year to spark action. It only takes four justices to agree to hear a case. Feinstein and Manchin won’t go for expansion unless there is an outcry, which won’t happen if the liberal bloc allows Roberts to only hear softballs for two years. After that, it will be too late.

Naturally, Republicans are opposed to doing anything to ensure fairness in our judicial system. Fixing the courts is the top issue facing the Biden administration we’re all working to install, and should be its top priority. If Democrats ever needed to fight for something, this is it. If we lose, we will need ever-increasing supermajorities just to be able to win elections.  Even then, it will be at least a generation before we are allowed to govern again.

If we win Pennsylvania, Trump loses—which is why Republicans are doing all they can to suppress the vote. Pennsylvania is the crucial battleground state where we need the most volunteers. Click to sign up for virtual phonebanking, textbanking and other activities at Mobilize America here.

Sorting machines being taken from post offices! Sabotage continues …

NPR's Noel King interviewed the Iowa Postal Workers Union President, Kimberly Karol. I urge you to read the entire transcript. (It’s not long.) She has been at the USPS for over 30 years, yet she has never seen anything like this. Louis DeJoy, a Trump flunky, was appointed as postmaster general. He has numerous conflicts of interests and no experience whatsoever—but he was a large Trump donor.

His changes have drawn widespread criticism. Karol admits she “is not a fan,” and she is not alone. She said "mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we're seeing equipment being removed.”

"In Iowa, we are losing machines. And they already in Waterloo were losing one of those machines. So that also hinders our ability to process mail in the way that we had in the past."

She said the changes made aren’t designed to save money, but to undermine public confidence in the Post Office. I would agree with that, with the added bonus for Trump of undermining confidence in the upcoming election that he is terrified of losing. She also believes DeJoy is trying to circumvent the rules that require public comment. 

I would love for someone to explain to me how taking away mail sorting equipment, which stations already have, will 1) save money 2) do anything but hinder the mail going out in a timely manner. But that is the entire point, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, this is happening everywhere. Washington state officials are already complaining about mail sorting machines being removed. 

DeJoy has already cut hours, cut overtime, removed trucks and jacked up the price of mail-in ballots right before the election. He is also, like Trump, opposed to the USPS getting more funding, which is as nefarious as it gets.

Vote early, in person, if you can. If you get a mail-in ballot, please take it to the elections office or a drop box. If you have to mail it, make sure you have enough postage and mail it in IMMEDIATELY. Thirty-four states won’t count it if it comes after Election Day, and Trump’s team is doing everything in their power to ensure that happens.


🚨Trump Is Removing Mail Sorting Machines From Post Offices

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 12, 2020

In the meantime, it’s all hands on deck, people:

Effective Get Out the vote can change an election. With Turnout2020, you call Democratic-leaning swing state voters & help them request an absentee ballot. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this is needed now more than ever. Sign up to volunteer, and you can make these phone calls from the privacy & comfort of your own home.

Thursday, Aug 13, 2020 · 4:58:18 PM +00:00 · SemDem

Trump just admitted he is sabotaging the post office to stop vote by mail. Dem leaders need to get an injunction and even consider impeachment, since this is a criminal act. It’s the right thing to do and I don’t care if the Senate acquits him—they will each have to go on record with destroying the USPS, and this puts the issue front and center. Most people don’t know this sabotage is even going on.

How far will you go to save our democracy from Donald Trump?

Have you ever considered what happens when Donald Trump loses in November? One year ago, his former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that Trump would not accept electoral defeat this upcoming election. Sadly, he’s probably right: If there’s one thing Trump has been consistent about, it’s that he narcissistically refuses to accept reality whenever it’s in any way negative toward him. This is why Trump has repeatedly, and ridiculously, insisted that he won the popular vote in 2016. In his very first meeting with Congressional leaders, he told them he won the popular vote because “3 to 5 million people voted illegally, and I’m not even counting California.”

Despite images to the contrary, Trump still refuses to accept that his sparsely attended inauguration was anything except the largest in history. Trump is so mentally incapable of admitting defeat that he literally took a Sharpie marker to an official map rather than admit he got something wrong. Most people found that hilarious, while others thought it pathetic.

I found it dangerous.

Recent events have made Trump even more reckless than “usual.” His impeachment acquittal by Republican senators, despite overwhelming evidence, seemingly proved Trump’s own adage that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any political support. Right after the vote, when Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ gave a jaw-dropping justification that Trump had “learned his lesson,” Trump decided to shed any pretense of caring about democratic norms, and fully embraced his goal of complete authoritarian corruption.

Trump has turned the Department of Justice into his own personal political hit squad. His Treasury Department, which refused to turn over anything to Congress, even under subpoena, quickly and illegally turned over private financial information on Joe Biden’s son. Trump has pushed out career public servants and replaced them with sycophants who place loyalty to him above the Constitution. Republican senators have willingly surrendered their power on just about everything, even allowing Trump to rewrite their budget through decree, and helped him pack the courts with unqualified toadies.

Trump destroying democracy with Attorney General Bob Barr.

Now that the checks and balances are gone, Trump is in a great position to steal the next election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has done his part by refusing to allow any bills on election security to come up for a vote, while remaining silent as Trump openly calls for foreign hacking. It appears that voter suppression and gerrymandering are no longer enough. Yet even if all the dirty tricks fail, and Trump still manages to lose the election outright, Trump is very likely not going to step down.

Many call this line of thinking paranoid, but that’s because they give Trump and his GOP allies too much credit. Election night has always been the one time that the Republicans have had to come face-to-face with reality. Unlike trickle-down economics or climate science, elections are straight math, no matter your preconceived view. You can’t challenge an election.

Or so we thought.

As with so many other things, Trump is going to change that dynamic. There are many possible scenarios, but several have Trump likely calling the election for himself long before the votes are in. If the results are not breaking his way during the election, expect Trump to cry fraud. Washington Monthly put out a very plausible sequence of events of what might happen once this occurs. Trump would declare, probably through a tweet, that he is hearing “from a lot of people” that polling sites are “fixed” and “rigged” against him. After Trump claims fraud, the GOP leadership is almost certain to back him up. His chief bootlickers, like Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham, will call for bogus investigations.

If the vote comes down to a state like Florida, where the GOP is in full control, they likely won’t certify the Democratic winner. Even if it came down to a purple state that refuses to fix the election, like Pennsylvania, recall that our constitution requires the current vice president to certify the election results. Mike Pence, who is the most submissive veep in our nation’s history, will not do this if Trump instructs him not to. The GOP has likely already calculated this, because in that event, the decision would go to the House of Representatives, where each state gets one vote. Since there are more GOP controlled states than Democratic ones, the victor would most assuredly be Trump.

The Senate has already proven they won’t do anything to stop him, and the Supreme Court is packed with Trump’s people, like Brett Kavanaugh, who warned that he would not be impartial after his confirmation hearing.

So then what?  What if Trump loses the election, refuses to leave, and the GOP doesn’t make him? Can you imagine a scenario where Trump loses the popular vote AND the Electoral College, yet is still in office after a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court? What would you do in this case? I am seriously asking YOU: Then what?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I come home, read the daily dose of awful news from this administration, get angry, fire off a few posts, and then do something else to take my mind off of the political despair. But that is getting harder to do. Opinion writers tell me I’m being silly: Americans will never accept a dictatorship. Yet, for the most part, the populace has been staying silent. After all, it certainly doesn’t look like a dictatorship. We don’t have tanks rolling down the streets or violent militias patrolling neighborhoods—mostly, anyway. People still feel free to march and to protest, and we still have a free press where journalists don’t fear violent retribution—mostly, anyway.  

Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse... And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945

Yet dictatorships don’t happen overnight.

Right now, Trump has merely “joked” about refusing to leave office—over two dozen times. Trumpian politicians are only recently starting to get more brazen, like introducing a book banning bill to imprison librarians. Trump’s promised government retribution for late night show mocking hasn’t started, nor has his unconstitutional declaration to end birthright citizenship. Although Trump says he can legally order the attorney general to do anything he wants (he can’t), and plans to go after Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Mitt Romney, he hasn’t—yet. But all of that is bluster, right? We’ll be okay. Americans always are.

If Trump remains in office after the next election, all of this will change. There will be absolutely nothing and nobody reigning him in. Meanwhile, Trump’s list of enemies, perceived and real, grows. As Americans, we have become more and more comfortable with his attacks on our Democratic institutions. We have become numb to his frequent attacks on his immigrant scapegoats and the free press.

We aren’t in a dictatorship yet, but it absolutely can and will happen here if we allow it, and sooner than you think. Right now, many Americans don’t want to speak out. They, like me, just want to go about their lives. The problem with that is if you wait until it gets bad enough to where you feel you have to speak out, only then will you realize speaking out will no longer be possible.

Consider this 2017 warning from Yale history professor Timothy Snyder.

The framers of the Constitution were worried that someone might come along who could be elected president who didn't have concern about the rule of law or about democracy. We are now in that situation.


 Up until now, there is nothing in Mr. Trump's words or in his actions which would even suggest that he cares even a little bit about democracy or about the rule of law.


What I would say is that our institutions were set up for a moment just like this one, but they'll only protect us if we enliven them and if we support them.

You can watch Snyder’s full video below. 

YouTube Video

Authoritarian leaders like Trump count on two things: that you’ll despair, and that you’ll be quiet. Yet authoritarians can’t turn into dictators without a compliant populace. For me, becoming noncompliant means that my personal ban on discussing politics with friends, neighbors, and co-workers is over. I don’t have to verbally attack anyone to confront a blatant lie, but I will no longer be silent.

My “Christian” friends calling immigrants an infestation of MS-13 are on notice. How the hell is any of this Christian? Phony justifications by right-wing politicians for Trump’s plans to stay in office for a third term due to “lost time” will no longer be politely ignored.

I’m asking you, right now: What you are comfortable with doing, and what you are amenable to giving up? For me, it’s comfort. I can’t be upset that there aren’t mass protests in the streets if I’m not there myself. I can’t participate as long as I fear that one of my bosses or clients will see me. Not anymore.

There’s plenty of organizations to join or financially support that need help now, from Indivisible to Planned Parenthood to the ACLU, to name just a few. There’s even the main opposition party known as the Democrats, and the brave candidates who are risking everything to fight our slide into Trump’s tyranny. For far too long I have avoided getting too involved, because I feared it would interfere with my primary career. Those days are over.

Yes, I may anger some clients, and I may lose more than I gain, but I’d rather lose them than lose my country. The type of involvement needed, the kind of canvassing I need to participate in, and the speaking out that needs to happen will no longer allow me to hide. However, I feel if I don’t get involved now, it will only get worse. Trump has no trouble going after critics’ pensions, their families, and their income, using the courts and his executive powers to do so. Yet he has openly pined for the power of the dictators he fawns over—the ones who imprison their critics ... or worse. The more political power he is able to accrue, the more likely that may happen.

We need to stop him. Now. If you are in a government position, or even a military position, where you are being asked to do something that you know is wrong—such as permit or engage in corruption, or target dissent—please remember that dictatorships rely on our cooperation to survive. That cooperation can either be voluntary or coerced, but it has to happen in order for their plans to work. There may come a time you need to make a very difficult choice with real consequences. You don’t have to go along with something that is unjust just because you are expected to.

These are difficult times, but our nation has been through dark times before. There were always heroes who have pulled us through. Just look at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. He showed us what a hero looks like, and has paid quite the price.

We are all soon going to face a test. We have a president who has turned his office into a cult of personality, who has repeatedly shown his disdain for the law, and who puts his personal interests above everything else. Is it any wonder that we are being prepared for the increasingly likely event that the president may declare martial law?

I ask everyone reading this to undergo the same uncomfortable self-examination. If Trump refuses to leave the White House, how much are you willing to sacrifice, and how much you are willing to tolerate? Our democracy depends on your answer.