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Why Canadians Are Warning About the Collapse of American Democracy

by Thom Hartmann

Bought-off Republican stooges in Congress and state legislatures — along with their allies on the Supreme Court — are openly trying to bring our country down, to destroy a 240-year-old democracy..

Tucker Carlson and Fox “News,” rightwing billionaires, a bought-off Supreme Court, polluting industries, and the politicians they all own have screwed up America so bad that Canada — Canada, for G-d’s sake! — is worrying about us.

Until about eight months ago, Vincent Rigby was the National Security and Intelligence Advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Now, instead of just warning PM Trudeau, he’s joined a top-shelf group of national security experts to warn all of Canada.

He’s warning them about us.

In a new report prepared for both the Canadian public and national security and police officials across the country, Rigby and his colleagues argue that if Donald Trump (or, presumably, somebody similar to him) becomes president of the US in 2024 election, all bets are off.

As Thomas Juneau, co-director of the task force and associate professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC):

“When we think about threats to Canada, we think about the Soviet military threat, we think about al-Qaeda, we think about the rise of China, we think about the war in Ukraine. All of these are true.

“But so is the rising threat to Canada that the U.S. poses. That’s completely new. That calls for a new way of thinking and new way of managing our relationship with the U.S.”

The report itself, after noting that numerous countries that were democracies just a decade or two ago have today become authoritarian autocracies, adds:

“For Canada, such developments are especially concerning because they are occurring not only in states such as Hungary, Turkey, Poland, and Brazil, but also in the United States.”

Their concerns range from the US exporting white supremacist violence, to the possibility of American instability producing problems on the Canadian border, to Canada’s dependence on America for military cooperation and global political intelligence.

Should a Trumpist president realign the US with Russia and other autocratic nations — as Trump began to do by damaging NATO and the EU and sucking up to Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, and North Korea — Canada could find itself left out in the cold: as a result, the report recommends strengthening Canada’s homegrown intelligence agencies and possibly creating a new one at the Cabinet-level.

Canadian observers are painfully aware that democracy in America has been under attack for years, particularly since five Republicans on the US Supreme Court legalized political bribery with their Citizens United decision, and that our nation was further badly weakened by the Trump administration.

Trump and the grifters and neofascist ideologues in his administration, for example, intentionally dismantled significant parts of the American intelligence and security apparatus during his 4 years in office.

As I note in The Hidden History of Big Brother in America, in early 2018 Trump shut down the White House Office of the Cybersecurity Coordinator and ended the job of its then-director, Rob Joyce. In the understatement of the year, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia tweeted:

“Mr. President, if you really want to put America first, don’t cut the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, the only person in the federal government tasked with delivering a coordinated, whole-of-government response to the growing cyber threats facing our nation. … I don’t see how getting rid of the top cyber official in the White House does anything to make our country safer from cyber threats.”

An aide to National Security Adviser John Bolton explained, using language lifted from Alexander Hamilton’s 1788 Federalist, no. 70, that they’d killed off the cybersecurity czar’s office because “eliminating another layer of bureaucracy delivers greater ‘decision, activity, secrecy and despatch [sic].’”

In other words, gutting government improves government, a Republican mantra since the Reagan years that’s been used to gut the IRS, EPA, FEC and dozens of other regulatory agencies.

After the two years during which Trump forbade America a cybersecurity coordinator, the incoming Biden administration discovered that Russian hackers had used that time to embed themselves into the computer systems of the Treasury and Commerce departments.

We’re still trying to figure out how far and how deep the Russian hackers went into other government agencies, including our military and intelligence agencies. It took an outside company, FireEye, to discover the hack and alert both the government and the media.

The month the Russian penetration deep into the US government’s computers hit the papers, Trump also fired Christopher Krebs, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Agency, decapitating both of this nation’s top cybersecurity guardians.

His fealty to Russian oligarchs apparently tracing back to his alleged money-laundering for them after his bankruptcies in the 1990s, Trump even trashed our intelligence agencies in front of Russian President Putin in Helsinki and, to this day, refuses to condemn the brutal Russian attack on Ukraine.

Increasing numbers of Republican members of Congress are following his pro-Putin lead and voting against aid to Ukraine: just two weeks ago 57 Republicans said “No” to Ukraine in the US House, and Senator Rand Paul, dancing to Trump’s and Putin’s tune, single-handedly delayed aid to that country for almost a week in the Senate.

As the Canadian report notes:

“It will be a significant challenge for our national security and intelligence agencies to monitor this threat, since it emanates from the same country that is by far our greatest source of intelligence.”

Canada doesn’t want to end up being the next country Republicans decide isn’t worth helping out or saving if it’s in a crisis.

And it’s not just spying and national security the Canadians are worried about. Pointing out “the implications of democratic backsliding in the United States,” the report’s authors note:

“Should scenarios of widespread political violence in our southern neighbour materialize, how should Canada respond? This question would have been fanciful only a few years ago, but it is very real today.”

Canadians watched Trump’s attempt to overthrow our government with violence on January 6th with slack-jawed amazement and no small amount of horror.

That concern is amplified by right-wing billionaires and their pet seditionists like Ginny Thomas funding and assisting people aligned with neo-Nazi groups in the US, along with a widespread takeover of American media by foreign right-wingers and corporations putting profits ahead of the nation’s interests.

As Thomas Juneau told the CBC:

“There are growing transnational ties between right-wing extremists here and in the U.S., the movement of funds, the movement of people, the movement of ideas, the encouragement, the support by media, such as Fox News and other conservative media.”

Tucker Carlson called Justin Trudeau a “Stalinist dictator” and claimed the progressive Prime Minister had “suspended democracy and declared Canada a dictatorship.”

Canadians take that sort of thing seriously: when America’s top cable host tells such vicious lies about their nation and its elected leaders, they worry about what may come next.

Carlson, after all, has promoted the White Replacement Theory that led to the recent murders in Buffalo, New York; how many killings might similar rhetoric spark in Canada if they were directed against residents of that nation?

The trucker convoy, first seen as a simple protest against a vaccine requirement to cross the US border, shocked Canadians when they discovered it had been infiltrated, armed, and funded by hard-right and often pro-Putin sources in the US.

The cache of illegal weapons they took from the truckers stunned Canadians; four of the truckers are now under indictment for conspiracy to murder.

“We potentially dodged a bullet there,” Rigby told the CBC. “We really did. And we’re hoping that the government and … other levels of government have learned lessons.”

Canadians have watched the evolution of the Putin/Orbán-aligned hard-right here in America with alarm.

First, the US Supreme Court legalized political bribery, beginning with their Buckley and Bellotti decisions in 1976/1978, which let rightwing causes and multinational corporations pour a river of cash into the Reagan campaign in 1980.

Five Republicans on the Court followed up in 2010 with Citizens United, blowing off the doors to good government laws (striking down hundreds of them) and handing our politicians over to the corporate and the morbidly rich.

That opened the door for the NRA to buy off the entire GOP and then flood our nation with weapons of war, while rightwing billionaires spread a poisonous ideology proclaiming that government is a fundamental evil and that only charity by the rich can solve America’s social problems.

Their efforts to fund “movements” like the Tea Party further radicalized Republicans against government while cranking up white supremacists who were flipped out by America’s first Black president.  Billionaire Trump poured gasoline on that fire with an eight-year “Birther” campaign to denigrate Obama.

And now bought-off Republican stooges in Congress and state legislatures — along with their allies on the Supreme Court — are openly trying to bring our country down, to destroy a 240-year-old democracy and replace it with rule by the rich, aka oligarchic neofascism, just like in Hungary and Russia.

Canadians have good reason to worry. As do we.

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