May Meeting Report – Decelerating the Republicans With Kevin C. O’Leary

By Fraser Perkins —

The Palos Verdes Democrats met in person and remotely on Sunday May 15, 2022.  Speaking in-person on the meeting’s theme, Decelerating the Republicans, was featured author Kevin C. O’Leary who asked the question, “Why is America facing a slow-motion coup and shocking disloyalty by the Republican Party?”

Carol Moeller introduced the speaker.  Kevin C. O’Leary is the author of Madison’s Sorrow – Today’s War on the Founders and America’s Liberal Ideal.  Need to remember he’s Kevin with a C. middle initial OR if you google him, you’ll think he’s Mr Wonderful Kevin O’Leary from the ABC Shark Tank TV show.  Kevin is from Irvine and has extensive experience covering and writing about American politics for publications like TIME magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the OC Metro magazine.  His book Madison’s Sorrow was published in 2020 to tell the story of America’s historical struggle between liberal ideals and the reactionary or illiberal resistance to those ideals.  Kevin writes about the rise of the alt-right from as far back as the American Revolution.

Note:  the times refer to the time location in the video below.

01:44  “I claim I am the real Kevin O’Leary…. The Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary is Canadian, but he chose to use Kevin which is one of his middle names….  So I’m the actual Kevin O’Leary.”

04:18  Reagan, bipartisanship and compartmentalization.

05:17  Kevin opined, we are currently in a “Constitutional Moment” where an illiberal coalition wants power above all and is willing to sacrifice loyalty to the Constitution in order to gain power.  This must be vigorously opposed by all who cherish our system – liberals, moderates, and conservatives – who disagree on policies, but are united in the belief that our electoral system must be protected and promoted.  Here are three past Constitutional Moments – liberals vs. two strands of illiberality

  1. Revolutionary War – liberals vs. King George III and autocracy
  2. Civil War – liberals vs. southern racists
  3. Great Depression – liberals vs. plutocrats

08:33  Liberals prevailed in all three moments.

10:02  In previous moments Plutocrats and Racists were in different parties.

  • Plutocrats – Republicans
  • Racists – Democrats

10:36  Two strands have joined together and eliminated moderates.

11:36  Current situation is not about issues, but our political system.

13:09  American politics are usually moderate.  We’ve never had a Marxist-Leninist left at the national level; nor have we had straight up fascism.

14:57  This election is about patriots vs. traitors.

16:00  Is Trump like Berlusconi or Mussolini?

17:00  Illiberals are half-way to fascism when they talk about violence toward certain groups.

17:46  Illiberals want power over allegiance to the Constitution.

18:17  Liberty depends on constitutional democracy.

18:35  The problem with autocracy and oligarchy is there is no way to stop a bad leader.

19:25  The first step toward autocracy is to stigmatize specific groups.  Trump has taken the southern model of racism and broadened it to encompass several groups.

21:45  Political history – from constitutional origins drawing on the Greeks and Romans to the writings of Tom Paine and the preservation of individual rights as expressed by the famous philosopher John Locke.  Our founders did not want an aristocracy based on exclusion and privilege.

24:00  Tom Paine foretold of progressive taxation, education of the young and support of the disadvantaged.

27:29  Alexis de Tocqueville celebrated the American experience in Democracy in America compared to Europe.  (Editor’s Note – he was also highly critical of slavery and our treatment of Native Americans.)

28:21  The American mission has been to expand rights to excluded groups.  This isn’t perfect but it is an aspirational goal – liberty, equality, and democracy for all.

30:00  Missed opportunity.  Thaddeus Stevens believed we didn’t finish off the Civil War by changing southern societal norms by breaking up the plantations and empowering poor whites and newly freed slaves.

32:03  From 1865 to 1965 the ideology of southern racism and authoritarianism continued.

34:00  Three speeches in 1963 MLK’s I Have a Dream, JFK’s address on racism and civil rights about 3 or 4 months before he died, and Alabama Governor George Wallace’s address famous for “segregation now, segregation forever” on normalization of racism.

37:10  Current Republican Political arc – Gingrich to the Tea Party to the rise of Trump to QAnon and people like Steve Bannon.  Extremists have the edge in the Republican Party.

38:50  Democracy depends on allegiance to our constitutional system – we must call out Republicans who are semi-loyal to our system.  “If you can’t answer the question, “Do you believe Joe Biden is the legitimate elected president?” with a Yes, then you are an extremist and you need to be called that.  Do not call them conservatives.”


Q & A and Comments

40:13  How do you explain the blatant disregard to truth and the rise of the Alt Right?  Kevin O’Leary recommended reading Masha Gessen’s book, Surviving Autocracy, to understand the corrosion of American democracy over the past few years.

42:26  [Editor’s Note – hard to hear question, but something about how can you vote for someone like Trump?]  “Trump is a classic southern demagogue and he’s demonizing everyone who is not a white male.”

43:50  Fox News is a manifestation of corporate greed and a modern version of Pravda.  [Editor’s Note –  Pravda is a Russian word translated as “Truth”.]

45:00  How does this affect global stability?  “We are in a fight for democracy.”  “Democracy is rare and special.”

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