During the 2022 midterms, “Real Time” host Bill Maher and MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan sounded the alarm about all the far-right MAGA election denialists who were running for statewide races in key swing states. If enough of them prevailed, Maher and Hasan warned, they would be in a position to help Donald Trump pull off a coup n 2024’s presidential election.

Democrats, however, performed much better than expected in the midterms, defeating Trump-backed election denialists in gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. A long list of Trump-backed conspiracy theorists lost statewide races, and many of the Republican governors who were reelected were traditional conservatives rather than hyper-MAGA candidates, including Ohio’s Mike DeWine, Georgia’s Brian Kemp and New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu.

Many Trump critics have emphasized that the United States dodged a major bullet on Election Night. But according to veteran sociologist Frances Fox Piven, the U.S. isn’t out of the woods yet and still has the potential to slide into fascism.

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During an interview with The Guardian, Piven, now 90, warned, “I don’t think this fight over elemental democracy is over by any means. The United States was well on the road to becoming a fascist country, and it still can become a fascist country.”

According to Piven, the fact that so many MAGA election denialists lost statewide races in the 2022 midterms doesn’t mean that they are going to give up on their efforts to move the U.S. in a more authoritarian direction.

Piven told The Guardian, “There is the crazy mob, MAGA; an elite that is oblivious to what is required for political stability; and a grab-it-and-run mentality that is very strong, very dangerous. I was very frightened about what would happen in the election, and it could still happen.”

The veteran sociologist pointed to the attack on Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, and MAGA reactions to it as an example of the type of violence the far right is capable of in the U.S.

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“This crazy man broke into the Pelosi home and attacked an 82-year-old man with a hammer, broke his skull,” Piven told The Guardian. “And there were actually politicians speaking to a mass audience and laughing at it. As thinking people, we don’t pay enough attention to the human lust for cruelty. We are at a point in American politics where those aspects of our nature are being brought to the fore; Trump has been doing that for a very long time, and we have to stop it, or else it will continue to grow.”

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