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Entryism, new weapon of American insurgents

Photo: Jim Watson Agence France-Presse US presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump was in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday.

Fabien Deglise in Redding, California

Published at 0:00

  • United States

In the aftermath of the heartbreaking defeat of the conservative right in Arizona in the 2020 presidential election, local Republican activist Dan Schultz developed the so-called “constituency” strategy. The idea ? Bring Donald Trump back to power, by calling on his supporters to take control of the Republican Party, from the bottom up, and then extend their influence to local governments.

Ironically, the concept borrows from entryism, this revolutionary political strategy stemming from Leninism and Trotskyism, which presided over the rise of authoritarian communist regimes at the beginning of the last century, in several Eastern countries, a communism that is being destroyed today. hui with anger by the supporters of Donald Trump.

However, the concept has made headway in the United States, promoted since the failure of the January 6 insurrection by Steve Bannon, great theoretician of Trumpism and close to the ex-president. “We are going to regain control village by village… neighborhood by neighborhood,” the man summed up in one of his podcasts in 2021, subsequently inviting the Republican candidate’s activists to also seize school boards and surveillance posts elections to plant the roots of Donald Trump's political project.

And his call seems to have been heard.

Last May, during local elections in Oregon, no less than 66 members of an anti-government group founded by far-right militiaman Ammon Bundy set out to conquer local power in three counties in the center of the state, and this, by running for positions within local Republican committees, reported an investigation by the daily The Guardian. A gateway to the elective positions of regional governments which, very quickly, could also experience the chaos in which Shasta County, in northern California, has been placed, with the arrival at the top of local legislative and executive bodies of radicals from Donald Trump's Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement.

“They are implementing at the local level the game plan established by Donald Trump at the national level, particularly on the elections by constantly casting doubt on the legitimacy of the process,” summarizes Annelise Pierce, former community worker from Redding, headquarters of the county, who has become a keen observer of the radicalization of local politics within the local media, Shasta Scout. Creating this doubt is ensuring that the meaning is reduced of people's vote to then be able to claim to have won the election, regardless of the reality of the results. It is an insidious process which, in the medium and long term, can end up doing a lot of damage. »

With a majority acquired in the Board of Supervisors, the highest political body in the county, these MAGA supporters followed the plan to the letter in 2021 by cutting, for example, ties with the companies that supplied voting machines to the county. These machines, which nevertheless provide more reliable and faster results than counting by hand, were accused without proof by the deposed ex-president and his political entourage of having “rigged” the result of the 2020 presidential election. for the benefit of Joe Biden.

They implement at the local level the game plan established by Donald Trump at the national level, particularly on the elections by constantly casting doubt on the legitimacy of the process.

— Annelise Pierce

The county also created a new election monitoring committee, a body with no real power and not recognized by California authorities, but “practical to instill doubt in the electoral process, while giving an appearance of legitimacy to their assertions” , underlines local journalist, Doni Chamberlain, who has been meticulously documenting authoritarian abuses within local government for years on his blog, A News Cafe. “This is how they keep Donald Trump’s big lie alive. »

But another threat has just emerged after the announcement, in recent weeks, of the retirement of the county elections registrar, “which will allow supervisors to bring in someone from their entourage in her place.” drops Jeff Gorder, former criminal lawyer and member of the citizens group, Civil Sashta, involved in local politics. “The assistant registrar, who has worked with her for 16 years, would be the most competent person to succeed her. Especially in this delicate election year. But the Board of Supervisors claims she belongs to the deep state [an allegedly secret government that manipulates the functioning of the state, according to conspiracy theories] and claims to have a more transparent candidate. »

A few days ago, one of the county supervisors, Kevin Crye, dropped the name of Michael Gableman, former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, to occupy this position. Mr. Gableman, a close friend of Donald Trump, became famous in Trumpist circles for having sought to “decertify” the vote for Joe Biden in this state in 2020, to give victory to the populist, against the will of the ballot boxes.

Also read

  • “The Enemy Within,” Trump’s Growing Obsession
  • In California, Authoritarian Trumpism on a Small Scale

“Putting an inexperienced person in this position six months before the election certainly increases the risk in terms of data security, access to data, intimidation at the polls and the registrar’s office,” says Annelise Pierce. “There are already many dysfunctions, but the decline could accelerate if we lose the official structure of elections. From there, all scenarios are possible, but none are likely to be good.”

According to her, the State of California may have to intervene if the electoral climate deteriorates in the run-up to next November's vote, as a result of decisions taken by the group of anti-system and anti-government activists in power. in the county. “It is not excluded that the National Guard will be forced to come here to ensure that the vote takes place properly. And if that happens, it will inflame tensions rather than alleviate them. »

Concerns rejected out of hand by Patrick Jones, an influential member of the Board of Supervisors who only sees this as the predictable reaction of “the liberal elite accustomed to calling the shots for decades” and which, according to him, is not happening. no longer hiding his frustration “that we managed to get elected,” he said. “To our critics we say: 'You have had your time in power, now give us ours to show you what we can do. Our ideas are good for the county. We are going to save a lot of money,” he adds while posing as the defender of a democracy that he and his people are perhaps preparing to weaken.

< p>This report was financed with the support of the Transat International Journalism Fund-Le Devoir.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116