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Est. April 5, 2002
Sept 24, 2020 - Issue 834
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Barr-Trump vs. Democracy 2020

"Democrats are in a politically perilous position
and must summon the courage and energy to fight
the battle they are actually in rather than rely on
the rosy scenario of a widening Biden lead in daily
polls in most battleground states."

It is now apparent that President Donald J. Trump is Attorney General William Barr’s “useful idiot.” Heretofore, there was a consensus that the relationship was the other way around. Barr, who has always believed in an imperial/autocratic presidency, has identified a president who shares his view. George H. W. Bush, under whom he previously served, rejected that position.

But in Donald Trump, he has found a fellow traveler. After noticing Trump’s autocratic tendencies early on, Barr recognized that he only needed to polish and mold him into his Manchurian dictator. By appealing to Trump’s addictive narcissism, Barr has shaped him into his personal ventriloquist dummy, while imputing his noxious actions to Trump himself.

When Trump is harshly criticized by liberal pundits and the “fake news” media, which he relishes, Barr is operating quietly out of sight like the late Jim Henson did with the Muppets. Other than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with whom he communicates using a wink and a nod, almost no one sees his hand in Trump’s back, pulling the strings.

Barr and Trump (along with McConnell who delivers Senate votes) are systematically inverting America’s Democratic traditions while giving all the credit to Trump. Like Hyman Roth, the brilliant mobster in Godfather II, and Edith Wilson during President Woodrow Wilson’s second term, Barr has been able to exert his ideological and political will on the nation.

When Barr auditioned to become Trump’s Attorney General on Fox News during the Mueller investigation, he utilized tactics that reminded Trump of Roy Cohn. Since Trump is an intellectually blank slate with limited ability for complex thinking and strategizing, Barr has succeeded in diverting his political desires and intentions from himself.

Since that time, Barr has become more reactionary than anyone would have imagined, by identifying several Trump sycophants, in and outside of the administration, to place in key positions: Louis DeJoy, the U.S. Postmaster; Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff; Mark Esper, U.S. Defense Secretary; Robert Charles O’Brien Jr., National Security Advisor; and Chad Wolf, Homeland Security Secretary, among others.

These individuals and their associates are engaging in a variety of nefarious actions to facilitate Trump’s reelection. DeJoy is slowing mail delivery to waylay mail-in votes; Meadows is derailing current COVID-19 negotiations; Esper has placed armed, unidentifiable government forces at Trump’s political disposal; O’Brien has let Trump misuse the military; and Wolf has directed Homeland Security to gin up anti-immigrant fervor in an election year.

Accordingly, Barr, via Trump, has “gangsterized” the election season by maligning the mail-in voting process, labeling cities headed by Democratic mayors as anarchist, and accusing Black Lives Matter and other progressive protesters of participating in seditious acts. An indication that Barr is behind these efforts is that Trump lacks the personal vocabulary for these concepts.

These actions are the result of Barr’s hidden hand. Many of these strategies he is orchestrating appear to be criminal in implementation, but it would likely take another impeachment process of him or the President to thwart these procedures. And since there is no way the Democrats are going down this road in the eleventh hour, we sit on the sidelines with no clear-cut options to stop this dynamic duo.

In the interim, the Democrats need to be more aggressive in counteracting an assortment of activities that Barr has initiated through Trump to ensure his return to the White House. They must combat teams of Republican attorneys perched and ready to file lawsuits contesting a close presidential race in all the battleground states and monitor voting practices in all 50 states.

Unfair voting procedures, shenanigans by secretaries of state, and the deployment of nameless uniformed federal officials to oversee local election processes must be promptly challenged as soon as they occur.

Most important from this point forward, the Biden-Harris ticket must relentlessly rebuff Trump’s lies and inappropriate actions in this Barr-Trump era of unprecedented political skullduggery and illegalities. Democratic operatives and the Biden-Harris campaign must ignore the polls as predictors of election outcomes for the top of the ticket and down-ballot races and scale up their responses to Barr and Trump during the remaining six weeks.

Biden’s major focus should be on turning the Democratic base out in large numbers during the early voting stage because given the well-defined machinations of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has already shown his willingness to submit to Barr and Trump’s political will, it is too risky a bet to trust the receipt and accurate counting of mailed-in votes.

Democrats are in a politically perilous position and must summon the courage and energy to fight the battle they are actually in rather than rely on the rosy scenario of a widening Biden lead in daily polls in most battleground states. To achieve victory for the presidency and control of the U.S. Senate, they must use the tried-and-true strategies of getting more of their voters to the polls than their opponents do.

In addition, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans’ rush to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat of deceased Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has evolved into another confrontation and prospective electoral dilemma for both Parties. It will motivate turnout for Republicans and Democrats alike in the presidential and Senate races. Ultimately, the Party that benefits most from this dispute will determine whether Democrats or Republicans will run the federal government once the final election results are in. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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Executive Editor:
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