Ted McLaughlin at Job’s Anger brought my attention to some very disturbing information, 43% Of GOP Say They Could Support a US Military Coup. It is taken from a YouGov poll. And it includes a lot of information about what I’ve come to think of as the casual cynicism of the American people. So on that level, maybe we shouldn’t be too concerned.
Let me back up a bit. YouGov asked people the following question, “For each of the following groups please indicate whether you think that they generally want what is best for the country or what is best for them personally.” More people thought that federal civil servants are more interested in themselves than in the country. And the numbers are just embarrassingly bad for local and federal politicians. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. Fundamentally, everyone is looking out for themselves. That doesn’t mean that they don’t do their jobs as best they can.
But the two groups that a large majority of Americans thought put America before themselves are just ridiculous: police officers and military officers. So the two groups that have been used by despots all over the world to oppress their people are the ones that Americans are most sanguine about. It really boggles my mind. Some scientist working at the FDA is likely to release a drug he knows is dangerous for a bribe from a chemical company? But police officers are just out there serving the community without a thought to pay and job security?
The best you can say about the people who give these kinds of answers is that they don’t think before they answer. I’m sure when asked about “federal civil servants” all some people think of is Lois Lerner (who I don’t think did anything wrong — not that you would know that based on the coverage of the IRS “scandal”). But really: when was the last time an IRS agent killed an innocent person? Shouldn’t we as a nation be more concerned about the kind of power that people have and how they use it?
This all leads us to the stunning finding that 43% of Republicans think that they might support a military coup. But it isn’t just them. Here is the breakdown:
It’s good to see that a strong majority of the American people are against a military coup under any circumstances. But it is still shocking in a country that prides itself on the idea of representative democracy that almost a third of the people would think that a military coup ought to be an option we hang onto. We’re not even talking about revolution here. This isn’t Americans saying, “The people should rise up because the government isn’t doing the will of the people!” This is, “The military knows better how our country should be run than either our representatives or our people!” That is a basically fascistic mentality.
Note that neither Democrats nor independents have a plurality in favor of an eventual military coup. But the Republicans have a strong plurality in potential support of a military coup. This is not as shocking as it may seem. Over the last couple of decades, I’ve seen a very anti-democratic trend in the conservative movement — to the point where it is now openly discussed. There are still many old school conservatives who are committed to democracy, but there are even more who have given up on the idea. The arguments go something like this, “The people just don’t understand that you can’t raise the minimum wage because it will cost jobs, so what we need is a strong leader to just come in and get rid of it.”
This is what is at the bottom of the 43% of Republicans who would support a military coup. Obviously, they wouldn’t support just any military coup. They would only support a military coup that enacted their policy preferences. It speaks to a general belief among conservatives that they can’t win a normal fight; their policies are just too unpopular. It’s very disturbing because it means that a lot of them have given up on the American project. They don’t believe in the process — just the results. If fascism brings about a ban on abortion, that’s fine.
Meanwhile: Liberals ♥ Democracy!