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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 6/2/21

Republicans Adopt Fascist Government Platform

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Across the United States, the Republican Party, through bills passed in state legislatures and signed by GOP governors, is adopting one of the central platforms of fascism, namely, the elimination of the powers of state officials, including secretaries of state, governors, and others.

The Republican-led legislature in Arizona voted to strip Democratic Secretary of State Katy Hobbs of her powers to ensure the integrity of elections in the state. A group of Donald Trump supporters called We the People AZ Alliance are concurrently trying to recall Hobbs. A combination of Trump supporters and anti-public health activists in California have collected enough signatures to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

GOP attacks on an elected secretary of state is not limited to Arizona. In Georgia, the Republican legislature is targeting a Republican secretary of state. A Georgia bill would place overall authority for elections with a new chairman of the state Election Board. The secretary of state, currently Republican Brad Raffensperger, would have his power to administer elections severely curtailed. The fascist legislation would designate the secretary of state as a mere non-voting member of the state Election Board. The GOP-led state Election Board also has the authority to circumvent county election officials. For example, it has the power to fire county election officials in up to four jurisdictions at a time and appoint temporary replacements. Similar legislation circumventing the authority of county election officials has cleared state legislative committees in Arkansas and Missouri, both states that have seen a sharp turn to the far-right in recent years.

In Iowa, the Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, signed a law that limits the power of the secretary of state, currently Republican Paul Pate, in administering elections.

There are similar fascist moves to limit the power of secretaries of state in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and North Carolina, states currently having Democratic governors. In fact, Republican-led state legislatures have voted to strip these and other governors of their powers.

The elimination of state, provincial, and regional government authority is a central premise of fascist political ideology. All political power is reserved for a dictatorial leader of a unified and centralized state.

One need to look no further than Russia to understand how fascist leaders like Vladimir Putin have struck at the autonomy of formerly self-governing republics and regions of the Russian Federation to consolidate political power. Putin has the power to fire regional governors at will and replace them with his cronies, many of them tied to Russian organized criminal syndicates controlled by billionaire oligarchs. It is the power that Trump supporters would gladly confer upon Trump or some fascist replacement for him, for example, Ron DeSantis of Florida, someone who has done everything possible to emulate a Latin American fascist caudillo. DeSantis has severely limited the powers of Florida's mayors and county executives in matters of public health and other areas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has instituted similar curbs on the powers of elected mayors and county executives.

In his campaign to limit local government authority, Putin has angered citizens of autonomous republics like Buryatia. Buryats claim that Putin staged a rigged election for the mayor of the capital city of Ulan-Ude. Putin ensures that only members of his "United Russia" party or pro-Putin candidates posing as fake "independents" are voted into office in sham elections. It has fallen on the Russian Communist Party to fight for elections free of manipulation by Putin. In Buryatia, Communist Vyacheslav Markhayev has claimed that he, not Putin's candidate, won the Ulan-Ude mayoral election. Markhayev has the support of Buryatia's large Buddhist population, a group that has grown weary of Putin's attempts at "Russification" at the expense of local religion, language, and culture.

Anti-Putin protests have also sprung up in places as varied as Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi Republic in the Arctic north, and Elista, the capital of the majority Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia on the Caspian Sea. Putin has also moved to limit the power of regional and autonomous republican courts, such as the Ingushetia Constitutional Court. Moscow nullified the Ingushetia court's ruling that a Moscow-ordered transfer of territory to neighboring Chechnya was invalid.

Fascist strategy is to use local and state governments to seize political power and create local fascist-controlled sovereign "states within states." Once they achieve national power, however, fascists quickly move to eliminate the very same local governments that aided in their springboard into national power. This template is currently playing out in such countries as India, Brazil, Hungary, and Colombia, as well as Russia and China, where fascist national leaders are attempting to hold on to political power at any cost.

The U.S. Republican Party, which has championed "states' rights" ever since 1964, when Barry Goldwater was the party's presidential standard bearer, has become a fascist party that aims to extinguish the power of states and local government to please an autocratic party boss, Donald Trump.

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