Post #41, Spain, Wisconsin and Trump; the Canary is Singing Loudly
In the early 1930s, 90 years before Wisconsin, as the worldwide Depression ripped through Spain, a citizenry that already had been suffering under a dictatorship and a monarchist with little sympathy for the people, managed to overthrow their leaders. For the most part, they employed a novel way of doing so — the ballot box.
By 1936, after years of electoral victories by Republican and Socialist parties, the king and dictator were long gone; a Republic had been declared, much to the alarm of the still powerful rightwing factions, loyal to the deposed ruling classes. The Falangists got most of their early support from Mussolini. After the Popular Front won a majority of seats in the parliament, military leaders led by Francisco Franco plotted their overthrow. Now, they were backed by Hitler, who sought to use Spain as a way of sharpening his newly strengthened military (aided by US corporations) while also testing to see how western democracies would respond to his aggression.
As he figured, they were merely spectators to the slaughter, choosing to ignore the obvious, that they were next.
In desperation, a call went out among the left to defend the Republic. Volunteers, often risking their lives and liberty just to get to Spain, arrived by the thousands, forming the International Brigades, of which the famed American Lincoln Battalion was one. Though the groups often had their political differences, together they believed that if Hitler wasn't stopped in Spain, fascism would spread throughout Europe and Asia.
So while the western Democracies watched, the Nazi war machine decimated the courageous but untrained, and poorly equipped leftist troops, and it wasn't long after that he moved into Poland on September 1, 1938. The rest, is, as they say, history. What remained of the Abraham Lincoln brigades returned home to warn the country that Spain was the canary in the coal mine. For their trouble, they were labeled as "premature anti-fascists" by the FBI; persecuted politically and legally for their bravery.
Hitler knew he could do what he wanted to Spain. Britain and France were dominated by leaders who weren't entirely against fascism, and both countries were still reeling from the devastating losses of World War I and had little interest in gearing up for more war. Roosevelt, though sympathetic to the Republic, felt he was bound by the Neutrality Laws that barred him from taking sides, and he too was also concerned about the US's powerful isolationist sentiment. Still, I remember Alger Hiss telling me that Roosevelt revealed to him that not getting involved in Spain was his biggest regret. Only, Russia sent some military aide, and even that came with complications.
So most of the world watched while Democracy was killed in Spain. I write this because Wisconsin feels like our canary in the coal mine, our Spain, the battleground where American democracy in this country might be won or lost, and right now, it feels like it is losing.
Like Spain, the right in Wisconsin made its move to crush the opposition because they wanted to suppress the vote in the state. Why? Of course it was Trump who let the cat out of the bag, saying what even the Wisconsin GOP wouldn't dare to: "If we had high levels of voting, the Republicans would never win another race." So as an excuse, he cites mythical stories of massive cheating by mail, the only safe way to vote right now and probably in the fall, knowing that only the lowest turnout will be able to save his administration and his Party from getting its butt kicked in November.
Wisconsin was their test case, and last night's party line 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court is the surest indication that Trump and the GOP now know the fix is in. McConnell's Garland strategy and the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are paying off in spades. The Wisconsin GOP would never have sued without being some indication beforehand that the president and his pet justices had their backs. Now, they know, and the GOP in states all across the country will surely follow suit. When mail-in voting goes to court again, or if we see a repeat of the 2000 election disaster when the US Supreme Court took the choice out of the hands of the American people and gave us Bush II, it will all be according to plan because if Spain is any indication, what the right wants the right takes. If the race is close enough, they're going to push Trump II down our throats.
Just like Spain.