We are facing an existential threat to our democratic republic. Others might say 'our democracy', but actual democracies are small and exceedingly rare. What we have is a republic based on a representational democracy. We do not vote on every action or piece of legislation. Instead, representatives are elected by us—hypothetically anyway—to take care of our business for us.
The prime architect of the threat is Donald J. Trump—whether real or a horrendous nightmare. His motivations are more a result of malignant narcissism than any political beliefs. The most dangerous aspect of the former President is his ability to build a cult that seems to believe anything he says and will do whatever he commands. It is his followers that pose the greatest peril. They will not only act in the manner he wants but will also vote for or against candidates per his instructions.
These cultists represent a large enough bloc so that the Republicans both fear and rely on them. This is the only reason why the disgraced, twice impeached, and demented ex-President still leads a dysfunctional Republican Party. Not all of his followers are from the "basket of deplorables" but a significant number are. There are wannabe paramilitary groups— who prefer to call themselves militias—, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, conspiracy nuts— see Qanon—, gun-toting morons, and people who are suffering from malaise for which they are certain the government or anyone other than themselves is at fault. There are also a few who display occasional signs of sanity and they may be the hardest nuts to crack.
What causes someone to believe a pathological liar over any reliable source? How can someone believe a misogynist and serial philanderer was sent by God? Why would anyone believe that a satanic cult of vampires with children as targets is running everything and even more incredible that Trump was the noble hero who would end it all? Couldn't we ask similar questions about any cult?
Trump represents the political division of the As Seen on TV brand. Only those completely unfamiliar with his actual past could buy into the "billionaire business mogul" façade. I have never understood what magically makes something legitimate merely by appearing on television, whether it be a gadget or a pseudo-celebrity. Other than his "reality" TV—actual reality is unscripted—appeal, he had a couple of other cons that allowed him to gain a cult following. He could convince a considerable number of people that none of their problems were of their own making, not really a hard sell if you think about it—and he persuaded them that he cared about them. The first assertion is never completely true and the second is a blatant lie. Donald Trump does not care about you, me, or anyone other than himself.
DJT is also not a smart man. There are reasons that he doesn't want to show his tax returns or his 1 – 12 grades and college transcripts. As far as taxes are concerned, there are two major reasons: 1. He has often grossly inflated his total wealth figures. 2. A thorough examination of his taxes could show the tax dodges he employed and might well lead to criminal charges. As for his grades, by accounts from teachers, family, and classmates, he did not have the excellent academic record he claimed.
What is the point of all of this? He did not possess the means or intelligence to become or accomplish anything as President of the United States. There were always people, both in front and behind the scenes, who took care of business, and it may be there that the most peril lies. We have a former Army general and head of national security, who promotes crazy QAnon conspiracies. Trump had top advisers with ties to neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations and who actively support racist laws and rhetoric. These are the men and women behind the myth, and they are the plotters and planners. January 6 will not be the last violent attack on our democracy. We must do everything now to secure voting rights. We have seen that most of the GOP lacks a spine and cannot be relied upon to defend anything. If they return to power, I believe this will be the last decade of the United States of America as a democratic republic.