Stop Appeasing Autocrats
Editor's Note: Steve Schmidt is one of the founding members of the Lincoln Project. He is a communications and public affairs strategist who has worked on several Republican campaigns, including John McCain's 2008 bid for the White House, and he is now a regular political contributor to MSNBC. On Tuesday night, Schmidt compared the way in which Democrats in Congress are dealing with Republicans to the way British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain negotiated with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. MaxNewsToday has assembled this 11-tweet thread and reprinted it as one easy-to-read op-ed for our ongoing segment, Schmidt Storm. This thread has been edited for grammar and clarity. America tonight. 40% of the population has $400 cash in savings. Huge swaths of the country lack broadband, and our national infrastructure is decrepit. Billionaires who fund their own space programs pay no taxes, while the country's senior political leaders, who incited an insurrection, remain protected by their own coverup. The concept of truth has been obliterated by a toxic combination of algorithms, misinformation and greed. There is an autocratic movement that is large, rich, powerful and on the march. It is maneuvering, yet somehow it remains invisible to the people who are nearest to it and have the power to do something about it. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned about this through the story of Neville Chamberlain. The story is more complicated than most people have been taught. He was an honorable man. The First World War was a human catastrophe that killed 20 million people and one million Britons. In fact, it can be argued that the British Empire never recovered from that war. A generation of upper-class sons were wiped out in the rush to glory that ended in muddy trenches, plumes of poison gas and vast killing fields. It was unimaginable in the 1930s that there could be another war. It was unthinkable. It was wished away. Chamberlain wasn’t a bad man or a weak man. He just couldn’t imagine that it could all happen again, so he pretended that it couldn’t. He reached for peace with noble intent. In the end, it was the avoidance of the obvious and inevitable that led to a disaster so great that it obliterated the memory of the bloodiest war in human history, fought just 25 years earlier. The next war killed 100 million. Is there not a lesson from this in our moment? History offers lessons. Some people could see the threat clearly and some could not. Some saw it very early, while for others it was the last thing they saw. It’s hard to imagine that Donald Trump could come back. It’s hard to conceive that he remains the far-and-away frontrunner for the 2024 nomination. Where I live, there are no shortage of TRUMP '24 flags. It’s hard to fathom that one of America’s two political parties has abandoned its faith in democracy, yet it has. The Senate is a small club, and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s hard to look at someone and comprehend their bad faith. We are in for a long season of fighting over some really big and important things in this country. Orienting toward the ugly truth of what it is we are fighting is profoundly important. We are fighting an autocratic movement that includes an eclectic multitude of extremist groups, among them fascists, theocrats, white supremacists and conspiracy loons. They are dangerous and they want political power again. This movement teems with menace and violence. It has killed and it will kill again. The pro-democracy coalition must win the 2024, 2028 and 2032 elections to break this.
It will not be easy.