The nation is already in the throes of a constitutional crisis — thanks to "mediocre people of meager talents" who are selling fear to the American public, according to Atlantic writer Tom Nichols.
Nichols, the author of "Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on American Democracy," told CNN on Tuesday that the crisis began last year, when Donald Trump became the first president in history to refuse to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
"We are in a constitutional crisis. It's not looming. It's not ahead of us," Nichols said. "We're smack in the middle of it, with an entire political party, and an entire political movement that rejects the basic constitutional norms and laws that govern our elections."
Nichols went on to explain his viral tweet from Monday in which he wrote, "The threat to American democracy increased exponentially over the past five years or so when mediocre people of meager talents realized they would never have to work a straight job again as long as they could terrify a nation of right-wing nitwits about the end of 'Real America.'"
According to Nichols, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham admitted "point blank" in her recent tell-all book that "somebody like me was never going to have a chance to go to D.C, and to go to the show, without hooking up with someone like the Trump campaign."
"And there have been a lot of people who've said, if we just keep people scared, we can stay on television and on radio, and become celebrities in our own right, and not have to really care about what happens to the rest of the country," Nichols said.
"So there is this whole complex of people, who have finally found a place in the sun, by scaring the hell out of the rest of America, and when that's combined with a bunch of people whose primary goal in life is just to stay in Washington, D.C., that puts the Constitution in a lot of danger, because then people aren't doing what's in the best interests of the country," Nichols said.
He pointed the finger at "the entire right-wing publishing enterprise" — from the National Review to American Greatness — as well as cable networks "whose hosts spend the entire evening scaring people half to death simply to keep their eyeballs glued to the television set."
"I think the entire Fox News primetime lineup is basically organized around keeping people terrified and keeping themselves on television," Nichols said. "They are selling something that the market wants to buy, but much like a drug, when you start people on fear as a way to hook them into watching television, you have to keep delivering bigger and bigger hits of that fear."
"So, instead of stories about immigration, you get stories about caravans, and instead of stories about crime, you get stories about rampaging in the streets, and on and on, so that by the end of the evening, people are convinced that they want to live in their panic rooms," he added. "And they are — and this is the key — they are willing to choose authoritarian, anti-constitutional solutions that empower a Republican Party that has given up on democracy and would gladly provide those authoritarian solutions, particular in the person of Donald Trump."
Tom Nichols on CNN www.youtube.com