Speaking to Mehdi Hasan on MSNBC Sunday, Yale professor and expert on authoritarianism, Timothy Snyder, explained that there are a lot of Republicans who absolutely do not want to see the United States collapse, but their far-right GOP colleagues do.
Snyder rejected the question about whether President Joe Biden giving a speech is enough, saying that Biden can't hold America on his shoulders alone and that public pressure must be put on people like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to support voting rights protections and ensure people aren't blocked from casting a ballot.
Hasan said that there is no one in academics who has watched the rise of autocracy more closely than Snyder. While he had his fears about Donald Trump during those four years in office, Snyder said that it's the second four years that could bring the worst.
"One way to prevent it from happening is to recognize it is a possibility," he explained. "If we just think America is automatically a democracy and institutions will automatically function, or the country is automatically going to exist, then we can sleepwalk ourselves into trouble. We need to just right now look back from Jan. 2025. Imagine what would happen in this country if a president is installed rather than elected. This doesn't have to happen. But it could very well happen. We'll be better able to prevent it if we can look back and say, hum, if an unelected president, somebody who loses by many electoral votes and many millions of popular votes is in effect installed in a way that seems illegitimate to the vast majority of the population, do you really expect the country to hold together?"
He said that the question is aimed at Republicans because they are the ones who have been overtaken by this desire to game the system.
"If you game the system hard enough, it stops being the system and I think it will be a very good thing if folks on that side took a deep breath and thought, okay, if this actually unfolds the way we want it to, will there be a country at the other end of it which we actually get to," said Snyder.
Hasan asked Snyder about the way that Republicans are viewing the Jan. 6 attack. While there are some who are calling it a "false flag," blaming the FBI, alleging that Democrats were really behind it or Antifa. The best case is when Republicans admit it's something bad but downplay the dangers of it, saying that it certainly wasn't a coup.
"It was a failed coup. Not every coup succeeds," said Snyder. "We're still learning more about it every day. It was a coup attempt that had several parts. There was the part by very local level officials, some of whom were willing to tip toward Mr. Trump. There was the part in the Justice Department where at least one important person was willing to work for Mr. Trump. There was Mr. Trump himself who was encouraging both the violence and the legal attempt to overthrow a democratic election. There were many parts to this."
He noted that there was also the concern that persists where the government failed to protect the Capitol building, despite requests from the mayor and Speaker of the House for the National Guard.
"It is a failed coup attempt, and what history shows is failed coup attempts are practice for successful coup attempts," said Snyder.
"There are some Republicans who don't want to see the country collapse. Let's not go too far with this. There are some folks on that side who probably don't want to actually see the country fall apart. I think there is time to talk about that scenario because I think some people are just looking away from it."
See the discussion below:
How America could fall if the far right takes over the rest of the GOP www.youtube.com