Many - especially those on the Republican side of the aisle - refuse to accept the reality that drawing parallels between Donald Trump and his followers to fascist regimes of the last century are based on fact and ought to wake people up from their indifference or desire to cynically play on the phenomenon to further advance themselves. Such people care nothing about the future of the nation and care only about their own short term gain. I say short term gain because if one looks at the rise of Hitler or Mussolini, a number of their early sycophants and enablers later found themselves targeted for elimination or, at best, shoved to the sidelines as their movement's egomaniac leaders no longer found them useful. This cult of the supreme leader is frightening. Also frightening is that now, on the left, we see Bernie trying to emulate some of the tactics and claims of a "rigged" system that we heard from Donald Trump earlier in the year. A column in the Washington Post
looks at Trump and the dangerous course he is taking the country on and the idiocy of those in the GOP who believe they can control him if he is elected to the White House. Here are highlights:
The Republican Party’s attempt to
treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it
not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s
“conservative” principles, all would be well.
But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do
with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party,
either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our
democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army
of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately
and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and
intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and
even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.
And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that
Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it
does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his
proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude
strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic
culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national
weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one
thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain,
intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists
of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others”. . .
His program, such as it is,
consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of
nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under,
make them pay up or make them shut up. . . . . Trump himself is simply
and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now
leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.
Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a
hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is
what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic:
the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been
warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other
threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers
warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained,
might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their
freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared
in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular
passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant,
riding to power on the shoulders of the people.
phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over
the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist
movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for
what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united
chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal,
anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful
fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce,
Der Fuhrer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation.
understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the
Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities,
ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at
least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they
want — vox populi vox dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to
those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by
a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses.
such an environment, every political figure confronts a stark choice: Get right
with the leader and his mass following or get run over. The human race in such
circumstances breaks down into predictable categories — and democratic
politicians are the most predictable. There are those whose ambition leads them
to jump on the bandwagon. They praise the leader’s incoherent speeches as the
beginning of wisdom, hoping he will reward them with a plum post in the new
A great number will simply kid
themselves, refusing to admit that something very different from the usual
politics is afoot. Let the storm pass, they insist, and then we can pick up the
pieces, rebuild and get back to normal. Meanwhile, don’t alienate the leader’s mass
following. After all, they are voters and will need to brought back into the
fold. As for Trump himself, let’s shape him, advise him, steer him in the right
direction and, not incidentally, save our political skins.
What these people do not or will not see is that, once in
power, Trump will owe them and their party nothing. He will have ridden to
power despite the party, catapulted into the White House by a mass following
devoted only to him.
In addition to
all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have
the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice
Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to
oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that laid down before him
even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely
greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more
generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does
vast power un-corrupt?
is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there
have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and
insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or
blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
Be afraid. Very afraid. Many Germans lived to rue the day that they fell in line behind Hitler. Likewise those who rallied to Mussolini. It CAN happen in America and it needs to be stopped. Sadly, those now rallying to Trump seem to know nothing of history and the dangers an ego filled demagogue poses to the nation.