Monday, July 27, 2015

Daily Trumpeter: Update on "It Can't Happen Here"

Following snippets are rom an op-ed in Newsweek.com.

I've picked up on a disturbing theme from authors of opinion pieces about the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump: "It can't happen here." For example:

My own prediction is that the political exotica he represents will not last. It’s a moment in time. The thousands who attend his rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world, partaking in the highest standard of living experienced in the whole of human history, granted courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules. We will not go back.

But that conclusion, it seems to me, does not follow from the observations about Trump's appeal to the masses who long for "the leader." Consider just some of what went before the above quoted conclusion.

I just heard Trump speak live. The speech lasted an hour, and my jaw was on the floor most of the time. I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety.

Yes, he is against the establishment, against existing conventions. It also serves as an important reminder: As bad as the status quo is, things could be worse. Trump is dedicated to taking us there.

His speech was like an interwar séance of once-powerful dictators who inspired multitudes, drove countries into the ground and died grim deaths. I kept thinking of books like John T. Flynn’s As We Go Marching, especially Chapter Ten that so brilliantly chronicles a form of statism that swept Europe in the 1930s. It grew up in the firmament of failed economies, cultural upheaval and social instability, and it lives by stoking the fires of bourgeois resentment.

Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.

Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.

Do read the Newsweek piece for the connection between Trump's authoritarianism, its relation to Nazism of the 30's, and its appeal to the U. S. electorate.

In further defense of my concern about dismissing Trump as a viable GOP, or 3rd party, candidate, here are two snippets from the John Dean article that was featured in my blog from couple of days ago.

Dean makes the case for Trump as the authoritarian leader.

As I have watched Trump proceed in 2016, I keep recalling Bob Altemeyer’s troubling observation in The Authoritarian Specter: "If you think [Americans] could never elect an Adolf Hitler to power, note that David Duke would have become governor of Louisiana if it had just been up to the white voters in that state." While Trump is no Hitler, we have never had as serious and off-the-charts authoritarian leader vying for our highest office.

But then Dean concludes that we have nothing to fear.

Of only one thing am I absolutely certain: Donald Trump will never be President of the United States, so rest easy. Authoritarians remain a minority in America, thankfully.

Nothing to fear but Trump and those who agree with his fascism. It can happen here.

h/t Dylan Smith via Facebook for the Newsweek article.

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