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Latest Narrative Analysis News Summary

June 1-15, 2024 Threat Scan

VSD Meter-Sept6.jpg

Current Threat Level: Very High Threat Level 7

Vital Signs of Democracy Scan ResultsJune 1-15, 2024

Current Threat Level: Very High Threat Level 7



The VSD threat level rating for the June 1-15 scan remained at a Very High Threat Level 7. It seems as we get closer to the election, the threats to American democracy are heating up. At the moment we have identified two narratives being told by Democrats that are in play. One is the polls are wrong. This narrative assumes that if they just do what they normally do to get out the vote President Biden will win again. According to this narrative there is no way voters in key battleground state will put Trump back in the White House with everything he and his allies are promising they will do. This narrative is emerging in many voters who are not following the news or feel overwhelmed by all the political and cultural chaos. We get it. But what if this is wrong? Are we willing to bet the results of the 2024 election on it.


The other narrative, which we share, is that we hope the first story is true, but we don’t trust that a super close election like this one won’t need more creative effort from all of us who support democracy to ensure Biden’s win. Trump won by 85,000 in three states. Biden won by 43,000 votes in 2020 in three states. The slightest thing could have tipped the results either way.


The other theme we are hearing from legal experts we respect is that MAGA Republicans are much better prepared this time to sow confusion if Biden wins. Based on our narrative analysis, there is no indication yet that either party will accept the results if they lose. This will throw us into a constitutional crisis of the type that Trump and MAGA Republicans attempted to manufacture after the 2020 election with the fake electors plot.


The only thing we can offer at the moment is to stay awake and aware of at least the main narratives that are being promoted by both parties and the respective media allies. We identify as independents with no love for either party at the moment. However, here are three narrative themes you should be aware of from the last two weeks.


President Biden is wandering off at campaign events appearing to be confused.

There has been a steady drum beat from MAGA Republicans that Biden is slow and getting more mentally diminished each day. They fail to mention that if you look at the latest campaign speeches Trump is making there is clear evidence he is living in some sort of alternative reality, particularly since his conviction on all counts in the election interference case in New York. The Biden is feeble narrative got more serious in the last few weeks. The latest examples were framed by Bidens participation in the G7 summit and the big fund raiser he did with Obama in Hollywood.


There is some truth to the story that Biden is getting older, but we took a deep look at these latest MAGA stories including the videos they contained and this is what we found. Fox News intentionally edited the video tape from the G7 summit to make it appear Biden was confused. The same was done at the close of the Hollywood fund raiser when Obama appeared to lead Biden off stage. We have all known that “deep fake” videos are now possible because of the emergence of AI, but this latest from the MAGA news sphere is yet a new level of lies and disinformation. If major news outlets like Fox are willing to manipulate video tapes to show Biden is getting feeble, we are in a new area of their authoritarian playbook.  


Media Reporting As If It’s a Normal Election

The next theme we saw was the reporting on the meeting between Trump and the 500 CEO’s from the top corporations in America last week. There was a time when progressive media outlets like MSNBC seemed confused about how to cover an election where one party’s goals involved ending federal democratic institutions. They floundered around for a while, but now seem to take the tact that 2024 is somewhat of a normal election. There are certain anchors that are still strongly coming out against the MAGA wave but they offer no “to dos” if you are concerned by what they are reporting. As an example, when a noted business pundit was asked WHY the CEO’s were meeting with Trump, his short response was that they think its possible he will win in November. There are big implications in that answer.


First, there is long history of big corporations, particularly tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon giving money to both parties in a national election. In a sense, to hedge their bets in making a transactional deal with the winners. That was understandable when past elections remained between normal guardrails. What is different this time, according to our narrative analysis, is that MAGA Republicans are far right of the normal conservative guardrails to the point that their candidate and advisors are saying they will lock up Trumps political rivals and liberal media personalities if they win the election.


In the interview with the business pundit it was not so much the questions the anchor asked but it was what they didn’t. Once the business expert pointed out that corporate leaders seem to be preparing for a Trump win, the question was never explored that suggests that corporate America could support a MAGA administration that would dismantle the federal authority to govern and place dictatorial powers in the office of the president. (Source: Project 2025)


Certainly big tech is not interested in a powerful federal government that would regulate their methods of stealing citizens data or developing AI to only benefit the rich and powerful. None of this would be of real concern in a normal election year, but this is NOT a normal election and we believe that traditional responses are not sufficient to protect our democracy. Something to think about when you consider other things to do.


The Supreme Courts Pattern of Intent Revealed

One of our greatest concerns is the MAGA majority on the court appears to be openly supporting Trumps desires to rule as a dictator. They have slow walked the insurrection and illegal document cases against Trump so they will not deliver a result before the election. They have sided with anti-abortionists in taking away women’s rights and when ethics concerns were raised about particular MAGA judges taking millions in unaccounted gifts from MAGA billionaires, Justice Alito supported by Chief Justice Roberts said NO ONE has jurisdiction over them. Aside from that not being true it is a declarative statement of intent.


There is also something else of deeper concern behind these issues for us. Our narrative analysis has identified a pattern in what cases the MAGA majority takes up and how and when they eventually rule. If the current courts goal is to diminish federal government authority and give it to the states, they appear to be choosing cases and ruling in particular ways that supports that agenda.


The latest example is the ruling that just came down on a case brought by deep red interests that challenged the FDA’s authority to allow abortion drugs like mifepristone to be distributed. This group of MAGA lawyers claimed that the drugs were not safe, although they offered no proof. So, the court decided this case in favor of the FDA’s authority not based on the facts of the case, but that this group did not have the proper standing to bring the case in the first place. In other words they left the door open for further challenges.


Legal experts on both sides of the aisle had originally said the court should NOT have taken up this case in the first place. So, on the surface of it, their ruling against the MAGA groups standing made sense. However, they did not rule on the substance of the case concerning the FDA’s authority to license drugs like mifepristone which have been used safely for 40 years, leaving the door open to more MAGA challenges to in effect create another kind of national abortion ban. This is the pattern we have identified. They are quietly moving America towards some sort of MAGA governance through deceptive rulings.


The increased danger as we see it is that normal voters do not have the time or expertise to identify this MAGA court strategy of slowly dismantling federal government authority or slow walking cases against Trump so they don’t provide a result before the election.


This is a lot I know, but as we get closer to the election, the dangers to our democracy seem to be growing. And this is happening in plain sight. MAGA Republican politicians and judges seem to be on a mission to support the dismantling of federal government authority while giving unpresented dictatorial powers to the office of the presidency.


If we go back to the two narratives we suggested up front, this is why we are currently supporting the second one that requires those of us interested in democracy to get creative in opposing the MAGA Republicans blatant grab for ultimate power. Even as independents we can see that.


Other Narratives Worth Considering in This Scan Concerning Our Democracy

  • RNC recruits “poll workers” in Michigan as part of vote monitoring efforts

  • Hunter Biden conviction shatters Trump’s persecution narrative

  • Alito recording plunges Supreme Court into deeper controversy 

  • Justice Thomas took more trips paid for by GOP donor than he disclosed

  • Tech CEOs meet with Trump on government overhaul

  • G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets

  • Canadian Navy Ship Joins US, Tracking Russian Ships and Subs In Cuba

Individual Narrative Analysis – June 1-15, 2024

Overall threat level is Very High Threat Level 7


Individual News Categories Threat Ratings


Voting, Elections and State Legislatures

High Threat Level 6


The threat level rating concerning Voting Rights, Elections and State Legislatures decreased one threat level to a High Threat Level 6 even though the MAGA RNC is ramping up its election "monitors" for 2024. This is a highly organized attempt to intimate voters at polling places and make it hard for election officials to do their jobs.

Sample of Relevant News Articles

Who is Winning the Culture War?

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat rating for the Winning the Culture War factor increased one threat level to a Very High Threat Level 8 primarily because MAGA media allies like Fox News and the N.Y Post are using doctored videos that are edited to make it look like President Biden is wandering aimlessly at events. We all knew "deep fakes" were going to be part of this election but the level that Fox and other media outlets are manipulating event video is unprecedented.


Sample of Relevant News Articles


A Woman’s Right to Choose

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat level rating for a Women's Right to Choose remained the same at a Very High Threat Level 7  primarily because when the Supreme Court ruled on highly tested, safe abortion drugs remaining available for now, they followed a pattern of ruling on some aspect of the case that was obvious (this case never should have been taken up by the Supreme Court) and left open the door to future challenges on the merit. 


Sample of Relevant News Articles


The Effectiveness of Our Justice System

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat rating for the Effectiveness of Our Justice System remained the same at a Very High Threat Level 7 primarily because of increasing evidence of the corruption of some MAGA judges like Justice Thomas and the MAGA majorities contention that NO one has the right to oversee them. This argues against the very core of our democratic system of checks and balances between the three federal branches of government. IF no one can oversee the courts activities what will stop them from ruling in favor of reducing our democracy? 


Sample of Relevant News Articles


The Independence of Our System of Checks and Balances

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat rating for the Independence of Our System of Checks and Balances increased one threat level to a Very High Threat Level 7 primarily because MAGA House members are using their "contempt of congress" power to attack Attorney General Garland because they don't like his opinions. This is part of the MAGA campaign to impact  voters trust in the justice system as it prosecutes Trump for felony crimes. At the same time, the MAGA majority has no problems that more expensive gifts to Justice Thomas from MAGA Billionaires have been revealed. Normally, a judge accepting these kinds of gifts would recuse themselves from cases that involved the gifter. In this case, Justice Roberts will not even talk about these issues with the Congress Judicial oversight committee. He and the other MAGA judges have announced that no one can hold them accountable. Very dangerous indeed. 

Sample of Relevant News Articles


The Impact of Cable News, Social Media News Feeds and Technology on Democracy in America

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat rating for the Impact of Cable News and Social Media on Democracy in America declined two threat levels to a High Threat Level 6 primarily because is becoming clear that Big Tech CEO's may support Trump because of his promises of no regulation of their activities or development of AI. It seem these "transactional" dealings between Trump and tech CEO's do not take into account that Trump as president again will threaten our democratic system. They seem to think they will not be impacted but will benefit from no further federal regulations. One to watch. 

Sample of Relevant News Articles


Mitigating Climate Change

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat level on Mitigating Climate Change decreased one threat level to a Very High Threat Level 7 primarily because MAGA Republicans do not believe that the increasing extreme weather events have anything to do with the impacts of climate change. Most particularly, the rise in air and water temperature. Florida is literally suffering from extreme weather but Gov. Desantis has eliminated the words "climate change" from all state government policies.


Sample of Relevant News Articles


US Economy, Immigration and Economic Disparity 

High Threat Level 6


The threat level for the US Economy, Immigration and Economic Disparity threat level remained the same at a High Threat Level 6 primarily because the 2024 election story being promoted by MAGA Republicans about our current economic status is a lie. They claim under Trumps presidency that the US was much better off economically. That is simply not true but it is a story that is still winning at the moment as President Biden is not getting credit for the recovery of the US economy from the Covid pandemic.


Sample of Relevant News Articles


Gun Reform

Very High Threat Level 7


​The threat level rating for Gun Reform remained at the same threat level of  Very High Threat Level 7 primarily because the Supreme Court overturned regulations that made it illegal to modify a weapon with a "bump stock." It seems to some that the Supreme Court is getting ready to re-interpret the 2nd amendment making it impossible for federal or state gun regulation. No mention from the court that these rulings are making America's streets more dangerous.   

Sample of Relevant News Articles


American Influence in World

Very High Threat Level 7


The threat level rating for American Influence in the World remained the same at a Very High Level Threat 8 primarily because in addition to the situation in GAZA, and the Ukrainian war continuing full force, Russia choose to send  warships to Cuba in an apparent demonstration of Russian military threat 90 miles off shore from America. We have not seen this level of tension between Russia and the US since the Cuban missile crisis in 1963 when we almost unleashed  World War 3. 

The other admittance during this scan period was the US Navy admitting their war with the Houthis rebels is one of the hardest they have fought since World War 2. This admittance represents the changing face of warfare. Small groups of rebels can now actively fight the US Navy to a standstill because of the emergence of cheap anti-ship missiles that can be launched from anywhere. Gone are the days that super powers dominated the combat landscape. This makes the global situation increasingly dangerous. All it will take is one anti-ship missile hitting an American warship and this navel conflict could be elevated to an all out war with Iran. 


Sample of Relevant News Articles

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