by Claire Bernish
A confluence of negative repercussions from decades of absurd errors we should have known better than to make is now upon us, and it appears — in electing, or tacitly allowing the election of, Donald Trump — fascism will be our ‘reward.’
Enough with finger-pointing, too, because who got us into this mess matters little when examining the rather dismal specter of past totalitarianism presently rearing its citrus complected, moppish head. And the humor in this farcical chain of events is being fast supplanted by horrific portents in brazenly xonophobic attacks committed by Trump’s misguided flock — from the nascent moments following the announcement of his presumed victory.
That said, the election to president of a reality TV host smacked bewildered Hillary Clinton supporters and anti-fascists with the flat hand of alarm — and now both groups seem to hold lighters to the fuse of civil war.
America, this will not end well — at least, not without our intervention.
Thanks to over a decade of self-congratulatory Big Government, the outgoing president is forking over unprecedented powers of executive control — as well as the perilous potential for grave abuse independent media and academia Cassandras have been shrieking about for some time.
Like Cassandra, those somber admonitions went unheeded as so much tin-foiled garbage — and, yet, iterations of a quick devolution into chaos mark precisely where we are, just four days post-election.
The heedless disappearing of the country’s manufacturing jobs and expanding slave-wage workforce under the Obama administration alienated vast swaths of the populace — lower income families of every race. Trump’s capitalizing on growing racial and religious tension made him a convenient poster child for the disenfranchisement of a so-called White America — racism, latently harbored for decades, finds facile footing when wide economic disparity has no single, precise cause.
Corporatism, however, so engulfs every facet of government as to be indistinguishable, and — that the monster of neoliberal corporate plutocracy has not been restrained in growth — many Americans saw abandoning this system as the only conceivable course, consequences be damned.
Thus, this sinking ship of empire will slip under with a billionaire megalomaniac — having zero qualifications — at the helm. Perhaps it’s ultimately for the best, but to be sure, this will not be a smooth transition for the traditionally-bellicose, outward reaching nation as domestic unrest could easily spiral into widescale violence.
Further, the untenable but growing prospect of fascism’s sprouting seeds cannot be ignored.
“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Noam Chomsky told Chris Hedges a full six years ago, long before the elections jarred the observation into imperative perspective. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists, but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”
However, in his comparison, Chomsky seemed to foretell precisely where the country actively charted its course, noting, “The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen.
“Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like [Joseph] McCarthy or [Richard] Nixon or the evangelist preachers,” he continued. “If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest, this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer: We have an enemy’?
There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens, it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate, it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”
It isn’t difficult to summon the obvious likeness to Donald Trump and the cult of personality doggedly determined he constitutes a golden god to save America from the perils of globalism — and the putative dangers presented by anyone daring to not be white, patriotic, nationalist, and Christian.
True to form, perhaps, as Trump began rising in the polls this election cycle, seemingly paranoid collations between the demagogue and Adolf Hitler became so commonplace as to comprise the stuff of jokes — dismissively downplaying the keen accuracy in the Cassandra-like prophecy. This isn’t to say Hillary Clinton didn’t present alarming possibilities in her own right, just that — domestically speaking — a Trump presidency proffers particular perils which should not be devalued.
“The rot of our failed democracy vomited up a con artist who was a creation of the mass media,” Hedges writes, “first playing a fictional master of the universe on a reality television show and later a politician as vaudevillian. Trump pulled in advertising dollars and ratings. Truth and reality were irrelevant. Only when he got the nomination did the mass media see their Frankenstein as a threat, but by then it was too late. If there is one vapid group that is hated even more than the liberal class, it is the corporate press. The more it attacked Trump, the better Trump looked.”
Charisma has a time-honored niche as place-filler in the shambles of failed states. This is, after all, how despots garner incredible power — it isn’t robbed from us in broad daylight, that power is willingly handed over by a desperate population looking for its savior.
To wit, the greatest danger with Trump exists in his blindly devoted following — who either have or have not misinterpreted xenophobic overtones — the president-elect will have the tools of a despot’s mad fantasy at his disposal in January.
Consider the criminal lack of foresight of the Bush and Obama administrations in expanding State control over civilians, from the indefinite detention clause of the NDAA to the increasingly sophisticated surveillance state; the placement of a standing army through a now-militarized police force, to the criminalization of dissent. If he were to exercise the power of the executive in the same manner Obama has throughout his eight-year tenure, Trump’s executive orders would curtail even more severely our remaining precious liberties.
Further still, the real estate mogul’s astonishing penchant to feed from the unhinged furies of his supporters evidences terrifying consequences for minorities, journalists, and anyone harboring contrary political ideologies.
This is not meant to be alarmist in nature, only informative to direct all of us to remember historical cycles of empire — and that, so far, the United States and its citizenry might as well be reading from a script.
Continuing down this precarious path unaware the world has been here countless times before would be akin to enabling cruise control and falling asleep at the wheel. It’s dangerous. It’s inadvisable. And it’s going to happen unless cooler heads prevail and recognize that this fight shouldn’t be between us — but instead should focus on our shared battle against a potentially treacherous future.
No, Donald Trump isn’t Hitler — but donning blinders to the similarities is a most criminal foolishness, indeed.