Trumpashenko locks up Minsk DC

As its pioneer and defender, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lay in state on the steps of the Supreme Court, US democracy was put onto the critical list — with the date of its demise pre-determined: 3 November.

In Minsk, Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko was sworn in for another term (who’s counting?) in a clandestine ceremony, while his citizenry — led by courageous women — rejects his stealing of the election. The uniformed troops of Vladimir Putin are there to help local thugs ensure that his stooge prevails in this buffer state between western democracy and Russia’s restored autocracy — where the opposition leader was just poisoned  almost to death with a military-grade toxin..

In the Kremlin, the count stands at one down, one very soon to go. Putin’s other stooge — as US intelligence has again confirmed — already feels secure enough to declare his plan in advance. Donald Trump says he intends to “get rid” of those troublesome ballots (whose credibility Russian trolls have helped him to undermine), declare victory, and have it ratified by SCOTUS, bolstered with his choice to replace Ginsburg. There will be and ought to be no transfer of power in Washington –Trump vowed —  just a Minsk-style continuation of power.

There is one crucial difference between these two otherwise analogous arenas of Putin’s progress. Much as the Belarusian people deserve global sympathy and support (sadly, not yet forthcoming from official Israel), its violent suppression will still let a weakened western democracy survive. So, one can only hope, will the devastation wreaked by Covid-19. But a stolen second term forTrumpashenko will be curtains for democracy far beyond the borders of its flawed but vital protector, the United States. Make no mistake. the prospect is that stark.

Last night’s big foreign-news story should have been the travesty of justice in Louisville, Kentucky, where the state declined any criminal charge for the policemen who killed an innocent black woman inside her home — even after the city accepted blame in a settlement  with her family. But that is now only one symptom of the potentially fatal Trump virus. The violence that may appear on the fringe of the predictable protests will further fuel Trump’s now-explicitly racist appeal to his shrinking “base.” He never had a majority of the popular vote, and after causing the bulk of 200,000 Covid deaths he is even farther from achieving it even with such despicable tactics.

Joe Biden’s campaign has honorably counted on racking up such an undeniable, massive majority of the popular vote and winning enough of the “battleground” states to prevent another aberration in the Electoral College as occurred in 2016. But Trump is now — overtly! — plotting an end run around it by sabotaging the vote itself.

The outcome of the political and legal battle may therefore hinge on the conscience and decency of a few Senate  Republicans. Maybe, maybe they will understand that this is not merely a matter of respecting Ginsburg’s deathbed request to delay her replacement until the next president is installed. And also of upholding the standard that they set when they denied Obama a Court appointment in his last year in office. The stakes are much higher: the American Republic’s fate hangs in the balance when they decide whether to save it or to fall in step with the venal, self-serving Party of Trump. The right choice may cost them their seats, but put them on the right side of history when this pivotal chapter is written.

Israelis too had better come to their senses about their “greatest friend” Trump. As I have warned before, if America goes down, we are likely doomed to follow. It was tempting to add “Bibishenko” to “Trumpashenko,” but not (yet?) quite justified.  Much as Netanyahu has emulated Trumpian memes such as attacking the judiciary and the “public-enemy” media; although he has manipulated the timing of elections to benefit his evasion of criminal charges, he has not tampered with the electoral process itself. Here’s hoping that this at keast does not change, and also that our establishment begins to cut itself loose from the Trump malignancy. What better time for such  Heshbon Nefesh than Yom Kippur?

About the Author
Gideon Remez, formerly head of foreign news at Voice of Israel Radio, is an associate fellow of the Truman Institute, Hebrew University. The views expressed here are his own and not the Institute's.
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