Today in Rampaging Authoritarianism

Last night, at yet another Make America Clap for Me Again rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia, following more chants of "Lock her up! Lock her up!" from his crowd of cultists. Lauren Egan and Jonathan Allen at NBC News report:
"There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia," Trump said, just after his supporters had chanted "lock her up" about Clinton. "There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people."

...Trump has discussed that theory publicly and on Twitter, but his remarks Wednesday night amounted to an unusually direct allegation that Clinton herself conspired with the Russian government to influence the election. He offered no evidence of his claim.
Then, this morning, during an extended interview on Fox & Friends, Trump praised members of his own party as great patriots. Kathryn Watson at CBS News reports:
He declared that Rep. Devin Nunes, the controversial chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who has vigorously defended the president, should receive the "Medal of Honor." That award is the highest military honor reserved for those who display selfless acts of valor. Maybe, the president added it should be called the "Medal of Freedom."

The president lauded other House Republicans who have defended him amid the Russia probe and put pressure in the Justice Department, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

"I think they're becoming folk heroes," Mr. Trump said.
Trump is praising members of his own party as folk heroes and accusing political opponents of treason. The treason his party actually committed.

These are techniques right from the authoritarian's playbook. He's not stumbling into this rhetoric by accident. This is a strategy.

Specifically, it is the strategy of a tyrant whose political party is consolidating power and working overtime to discredit their critics and intimidate the resistance into silence and retreat.

When threats and chants don't wholly quell dissidents, the tactics will escalate.

This is what is happening. Trump is not just a terrible president who will be constrained and eventually replaced by a functional democratic system. He is a rank authoritarian leading an irredeemably corrupt party supported by a toxic base of increasingly violent extremists — who have aligned to conspire to permanently subvert the nation's democratic institutions in service to their corruption and malice.

Anyone who tells you different is a fool who isn't paying attention, a complicit coward, or a gaslighter who wants to silence or corrupt you, too.

And as I have said many times now: We can't even begin to solve this problem if we collectively refuse to be honest about what the problem truly is.

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