The rise of ‘Trumpism’ — time to fight the new American fascism

Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, writes this warning from history for the Washington Post today. The moment of truth: We must stop Trump:

Like any number of us raised in the late 20th century, I have spent my life perplexed about exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany. Watching Donald Trump’s rise, I now understand. Leave aside whether a direct comparison of Trump to Hitler is accurate. That is not my point. My point rather is about how a demagogic opportunist can exploit a divided country.

TrumpFascismTo understand the rise of Hitler and the spread of Nazism, I have generally relied on the German-Jewish émigré philosopher Hannah Arendt and her arguments about the banality of evil. Somehow people can understand themselves as “just doing their job,” yet act as cogs in the wheel of a murderous machine. Arendt also offered a second answer in a small but powerful book called “Men in Dark Times.” In this book, she described all those who thought that Hitler’s rise was a terrible thing but chose “internal exile,” or staying invisible and out of the way as their strategy for coping with the situation. They knew evil was evil, but they too facilitated it, by departing from the battlefield out of a sense of hopelessness.

One can see both of these phenomena unfolding now. The first shows itself, for instance, when journalists cover every crude and cruel thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth and thereby help acculturate all of us to what we are hearing. Are they not just doing their jobs, they will ask, in covering the Republican front-runner? Have we not already been acculturated by 30 years of popular culture to offensive and inciting comments? Yes, both of these things are true. But that doesn’t mean journalists ought to be Trump’s megaphone. Perhaps we should just shut the lights out on offensiveness; turn off the mic when someone tries to shout down others; reestablish standards for what counts as a worthwhile contribution to the public debate. That will seem counter to journalistic norms, yes, but why not let Trump pay for his own ads when he wants to broadcast foul and incendiary ideas? He’ll still have plenty of access to freedom of expression. It is time to draw a bright line.

One spots the second experience in any number of water-cooler conversations or dinner-party dialogues. “Yes, yes, it is terrible. Can you believe it? Have you seen anything like it? Has America come to this?” “Agreed, agreed.” But when someone asks what is to be done, silence falls. Very many of us, too many of us, are starting to contemplate accepting internal exile. Or we joke about moving to Canada more seriously than usually.

But over the course of the past few months, I’ve learned something else that goes beyond Arendt’s ideas about the banality of evil and feelings of impotence in the face of danger.

Trump is rising by taking advantage of a divided country. The truth is that the vast majority of voting Americans think that Trump is unacceptable as a presidential candidate, but we are split by strong partisan ideologies and cannot coordinate a solution to stop him. Similarly, a significant part of voting Republicans think that Trump is unacceptable, but they too, thus far, have been unable to coordinate a solution. Trump is exploiting the fact that we cannot unite across our ideological divides.

The only way to stop him, then, is to achieve just that kind of coordination across party lines and across divisions within parties. We have reached that moment of truth.

Republicans, you cannot count on the Democrats to stop Trump. I believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, and I intend to vote for her, but it is also the case that she is a candidate with significant weaknesses, as your party knows quite well. The result of a head-to-head contest between Clinton and Trump would be unpredictable. Trump has to be blocked in your primary.

Jeb Bush has done the right thing by dropping out, just as he did the right thing by being the first, alongside Rand Paul, to challenge Trump. The time has come, John Kasich and Ben Carson, to leave the race as well. You both express a powerful commitment to the good of your country and to its founding ideals. If you care about the future of this republic, it is time to endorse Marco Rubio. Kasich, there’s a little wind in your sails, but it’s not enough. Your country is calling you. Do the right thing.

Ted Cruz is, I believe, pulling votes away from Trump, and for that reason is useful in the race. But, Mr. Cruz, you are drawing too close to Trump’s politics. You too should change course.

Democrats, your leading candidate is too weak to count on as a firewall. She might be able to pull off a general election victory against Trump, but then again she might not. Too much is uncertain this year. You, too, need to help the Republicans beat Trump; this is no moment for standing by passively. If your deadline for changing your party affiliation has not yet come, re-register and vote for Rubio, even if, like me, you cannot stomach his opposition to marriage equality. I too would prefer Kasich as the Republican nominee, but pursuing that goal will only make it more likely that Trump takes the nomination. The republic cannot afford that.

Finally, to all of you Republicans who have already dropped out, one more, great act of public service awaits you. As candidates, you pledged to support whomever the Republican party nominated. It’s time to revoke your pledge. Be bold, stand up and shout that you will not support Trump if he is your party’s nominee. Do it together. Hold one big mother of a news conference. Endorse Rubio, together. It is time to draw a bright line, and you are the ones on whom this burden falls. No one else can do it.

[Note: On ABC News’s This Week, RNC chair Reince Priebus said the party will of course back Donald Trump if he is the nominee. No courageous stand from him.]

Marco Rubio, this is also your moment to draw a bright line. You too ought to rescind your pledge to support the party’s nominee if it is Trump.

Donald Trump has no respect for the basic rights that are the foundation of constitutional democracy, nor for the requirements of decency necessary to sustain democratic citizenship. Nor can any democracy survive without an expectation that the people require reasonable arguments that bring the truth to light, and Trump has nothing but contempt for our intelligence.

We, the people, need to find somewhere, buried in the recesses of our fading memories, the capacity to make common cause against this formidable threat to our equally shared liberties. The time is now.

Wile I agree with Allen’s diagnosis, I cannot agree with her recommended cure. Marco Rubio Roboto? A man-child with no accomplishments of which to speak who is programmed by his handlers to the point of being an automaton? And a Neoconservative war monger to boot? This is not a cure, it is a different disease.

And Allen badly misjudges the reasonableness of Ted “Calgary” Cruz.  He also is a fascist, of the Christofascist variety. He is arguably more dangerous than Trump, because he is a true believer. Trump is an egomaniac who is simply manipulating people to satisfy his ego. The difference is one of kind and degree of authoritarianism between Trump and Cruz.

Trump, Cruz and Rubio are the manifestation of a disease that afflicts Tea-Publican Party voters, a malignant disease that is fueled by the purveyors of hatred and fear in the conservative media entertainment complex.

The GOP has descended into madness and it has no candidate who is capable of appealing to reason, rationality, common values and human decency. The modern-day GOP is a political party that must be defeated and disassembled, for the good of the country and the future of democracy, before this country descends into darkness.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” — often attributed to Edmund Burke.

5 responses to “The rise of ‘Trumpism’ — time to fight the new American fascism

  1. I find Rubio and Cruz to be much more dangerous than Trump.
    Trump has been accused of going Code Pink over his very harsh criticism of George W. Bush and the ne0-cons on Iraq. He is saying things about Iraq that most Democrats don’t dare say, that the only result of the war was to hand Iraq to Iran.
    Trump has taken Medicare and Social Security cuts off the table. All the other Republicans plan sizeable cuts to the two programs to pay for more tax cuts for their billionaire handlers.
    Trump has not been nearly as subservient to AIPAC as Cruz and Rubio.
    Trump is a real threat to the Republican establishment. He doesn’t need their money or their support.
    The idea of progressives supporting Rubio to avoid Trump strikes me as insane.

  2. Good find on Allen’s essay, but in disagreeing with her RuBioBot strategy, you leave us what alternative? What is your plan to defeat Trump? A brokered GOP convention? A prayer that either of our Dem candidates will prevail in the general election? What?

    • For students of history, you know that these extremist groups come to power only when voter apathy and lack of civic participation allow a small but committed minority of extremists to prevail. The fault lies not in the extremists who vote for someone like Trump — they have always been with us — but rather the non-voter, the citizen who neglects their civic duty to register to vote and to actually vote in an election (which was the majority of Americans in 2014).

      The three legs of the GOP conservative stool (or conservative coalition) consists of social conservatives (the religious right), economic conservatives (Wall Street), and defense conservatives (The military-industrial complex and Neoconservatives). It will take a critical mass event — perhaps Trump taking over the party — to cause the legs of this coalition to come apart and to consider forming a new party(s). Bloody Bill Kristol has already been suggesting this possibility. It is time for the GOP to go the way of the Whigs and the Know Nothing Party of the 1850s. The party needs to be defeated and disassembled.

  3. John Huppenthal

    Trump followers strongly believe three things that just aren’t true. One, that immigrants cost natives jobs. Just look at Texas, the state with the highest rate of foreign born immigration. Over the last seven years, Texas has had the fastest rate of total job growth,caucasian job growth and economic growth of any state in the nation. Immigrants create jobs for natives. How is this so? In economics it is called Says law. Says law has been unjustly and badly battered since he established it in 1804 but it is still the most important law in economic theory because it allows you to fully understand situations like immigration.

    Second, they believe you can’t have low rates of crime with high levels of immigrants in your population. Since 2007, murders in Arizona have dropped from 463 in 2007 to 267 in 2014, proving you can control crime even with high levels of immigrants in your population.

    They murder this many people on a weekend in Chicago.

    Finally, and most dangerously, Trump believes that trade destroys jobs. Since nafta in 1992, exports to Mexico have risen from 40 billion to 236 billion. That’s the economic output of a whole state within the united states. This will increase to 1.2 trillion over the next 20 years if morons like trump and sanders don’t mess it up.

    The great depression was triggered by trump and sanders thinking. Think things can’t get worse, they can get much worse.

  4. captain*arizona

    Someone who’s job has gone out of the country or about to doesn’t care about your name calling of trump. Bernie has ananwser and their are people who will support the one who stays in the race longer. hillary was forced to oppose tpp to keep the union vote not because she wanted too!