Thursday, March 03, 2016

Trump and How Great Republics Meet Their End

I often find that foreign publications - often those from the UK - provide better political coverage and commentary  than what one finds in American publications.  A case in point is the Financial Times, which has an on point column on Donald Trump and the demise of once great republics.  The piece focuses on the decline of the Republican Party and notes its "wild obstructionism,” its demonization of political institutions, its flirtation with bigotry and its “racially tinged derangement syndrome” over President Barack Obama.  It also notes that Trump supporters are angry about all the things Republicans have told them to be angry about these past seven-and-a-half years.”  

However, the piece also takes a broader scale view and looks at the decline in the American citizenry, or at least the element of it that is gravitating to Trump and his fascist agenda.   With plenty of justification, citizens of the UK, the rest of Europe and, indeed, the world are shocked, aghast and concerned that a "narcissistic bully" like Trump could be the leading contender for the GOP nomination.  The piece notes that while Trump might be compared to to Italy's former leader, Silvio Berlusconi, but concludes that Trump lacks Berlusconi's charm and, unlike Mr Trump, Berlusconi's never threatened to round up and deport millions of individuals and their families. 

My two favorite quotes?  One looks at the fall of the Roman Republic.  The other looks at the fall of Germany to Hitler.  Here they are:

[T] the wealth of empire destabilized the Roman republic. In the end, Augustus, heir of the popular party, terminated the republic and installed himself as emperor. He did so by preserving all the forms of the republic, while he dispensed with their meaning.
It was the ultra-conservative president Paul von Hindenburg who made Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933. What made the new ruler so destructive was not only that he was a paranoid lunatic, but that he ruled a great power. Trump may be no Hitler. But the US is also no Weimar Germany. It is a vastly more important country even than that.
Great republics die when (i) the populace are are exhausted from excessive foreign adventurism and seek a strong man to impose perceived stability, and (ii) citizens put nativism and bigotry ahead of logical thinking.   The piece ends hoping that a majority of Americans will come to their senses and stop the de facto effort to over throw the American republic. 

Read the whole column here.

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