Collaborators in Trumpism, the new American Fascism


A must-read column today from the New York Times‘ Paul Krugman on Fascism, American Style:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, Trump Asked Top Aides Months Ago if Arpaio Case Could Be Dropped, Officials Say, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

So how did we get to this point?

Trump’s motives are easy to understand. For one thing, Arpaio, with his racism and authoritarianism, really is his kind of guy. For another, the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.

Finally, standing up for white people who keep brown people down pleases Trump’s base, whom he’s going to need more than ever as the scandals creep closer and the big policy wins he promised keep not happening.

But the Trump base of angry white voters is a distinct minority in the country as a whole. Furthermore, those voters have always been there. Fifteen years ago, writing about the radicalization of the G.O.P., I suggested the hard core of angry voters was around 20 percent of the electorate; that still seems like a reasonable guess.

What makes it possible for someone like Trump to attain power and hold it is the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren’t white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests.

There have been endless reports about the low-education white voters who went overwhelmingly for Trump last November. But he wouldn’t have made it over the top without millions of votes from well-educated Republicans who — despite the media’s orgy of false equivalence or worse (emails!) [see new report titled Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 US Presidential Election] — had no excuse for not realizing what kind of man he was. For whatever reason, be it political tribalism or the desire for lower taxes, they voted for him anyway.

Given the powers we grant to the president, who in some ways is almost like an elected dictator, giving the office to someone likely to abuse that power invites catastrophe. The only real check comes from Congress, which retains the power to impeach; even the potential for impeachment can constrain a bad president. But Republicans control Congress; how many of them besides John McCain have offered full-throated denunciations of the Arpaio pardon?

The answer is, very few. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, had a spokesman declare that he “does not agree with this decision” — not exactly a ringing statement. Yet Ryan did better than most of his colleagues, who have said nothing at all.

This bodes ill if, as seems all too likely, the Arpaio pardon is only the beginning: We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does?

As I said, there’s a word for people who round up members of ethnic minorities and send them to concentration camps, or praise such actions. There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.

As I have posted before:

Trump’s conduct is not just unpresidential and demeaning to the office of the presidency, his conduct is undermining the very values and mores of democracy. I believe that his ultimate goal is to undermine all of our democratic principles to make the imposition of his authoritarian rule possible.  As Dr. Steven Jonas noted, Fascism in the 21st Century:

When we are looking at 21st century fascism, in the context of what is happening in certain of the capitalist states, at the present particularly in the United States, it should be noted that it is entirely possible that wholesale violence will not be required for its introduction. Nor will a maximum leader necessarily be required. Like the fog in the famous, ultra-short poem by the U.S. person Carl Sandburg, it may well come in “on little cat feet.”

It is the gradual erosion of all that we have held dear for over 240 years, to be replaced by Trumpism, the new American fascism. America’s descent into the darkness of ‘Trumpism,’ the new American fascism.

So you have a choice to make, like the occupied French did in World War II: you can either be part of the resistance to fascism, or you can be a collaborator in fascism, through overt support or by submissive “cowardice and self-interest to go along with such abuses.” It is “a time for choosing.”

Demand to know where your senators and members of Congress stand.


  1. These Trumps Ain’t Loyal: Was Arpaio Pardoned Just To Undermine A GOP Senator’s Bid For Re-Election?
    Monique Judge
    54 minutes agoFiled to: NEWS

    On Monday, the 85-year-old controversial former sheriff said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that he is considering another run for public office, and this time his eye is on the Senate seat of Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Flake has been an openly vocal critic of Donald Trump and refused to endorse him during last year’s presidential election.

    Arpaio told the Examiner that he believes Republican politicians are not supportive enough for the president, who he considers to be a great man. He was upset at the backlash the president received for pardoning him.

    “I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me to challenge Flake,” Arpaio told the Examiner. “All I’m saying is the door is open and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got support. I know what support I have.”

    • Arpaio was first elected as Maricopa County Sheriff in 1992 and re-elected in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. That certainly says something about the Maricopa County voters who kept him in office.

      I don’t think he could win a statewide election in these times and certainly not at his age.

      But I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries.

  2. Trump defends Arpaio pardon, assumed ‘ratings would be far higher’ by announcing during hurricane

    By Ashley Parker August 28 at 5:45 PM

    President Trump defended his controversial pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio on Monday, saying his decision to announce it during Hurricane Harvey likely earned it “far higher” ratings.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with the president of Finland, Trump made his first comments on Arpaio since his decision to pardon the Arizona lawman Friday — defending both the timing of the pardon late Friday evening, as Harvey made landfall, and the decision itself.

    • Yeah, except that it was a standard Friday news dump, the same thing every White House going back decades has been doing.

      Most people don’t read the news on Saturday’s.

      Trump lies about everything.

      Here’s the Ballad of Birther Joe:

      Birther Joe was breaking the law, a judge told him to cut it out, but Birther Joe went around town bragging about how he was going to keep breaking the law (kind of a no-no since Birther Joe was an officer of the court), and the judge called him back and said did you say you were going to keep breaking the law Birther Joe, and Birther Joe said that was just campaign talk, he didn’t mean it, and then the judge asked if Birther Joe was still breaking the law, and Birther Joe said yes, but it was because he’s ignorant, and the judge said you’re a liar and guilty Birther Joe.

      Then the TreasonWeasel and water sports fan in the White House pardoned Birther Joe to send a message to all the grifters the TreasonWeasel has run cons with over the years and Russian colluding campaign staff to hold tight don’t worry I’ll pardon you just like I did for Birther Joe.

      And Birther Joe, embarrassment to Arizona and to human beings in general that he is, and in spite of being a convicted criminal, gets to stay out of jail or community service and instead runs around town telling everyone he’s going to run against Jeff Flake.

      Because Jeff Flake isn’t racist enough.

      And so the Ballad of Birther Joe will end with another humiliating election loss for the loser Birther Joe.

      Because Birther Joe was a racist loser POS all along.

      And that’s the Ballad of Birther Joe.

      The only thing more full of shit than Trump is Birther Joe’s Depends.

  3. During a presser with the president of Finland just now, Trump is spreading the lie that the courts timed events to hurt Birther Joe Arpaio’s election.

    It was Birther Joe’s own lawyers who asked for and agreed to the delays and timing. Trump is lying.

    And so the legend of Birther Joe Arpaio being a lying sack of wet dog-sheegies continues, embarrassing Arizona even after losing office.

    Losing. Because we don’t want him. Because he’s a loser.

  4. we know where are senators and congress people stand. latinos unlike street people could fight back and in 2016 they did! especially since democrats were not running a doofus for governor like fred duval. this message is for blue meenie. democratic underground is saying anyone who doesn’t worship clinton is no longer welcome at du. have you thought about a national blog for all democrats to comment. this would be the perfect time.

  5. Trump rolls back limits on military gear for police

    16 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order reviving a program that provided local police departments with surplus military equipment such as high-caliber weapons and grenade launchers, despite past concerns that armored vehicles and other gear were inflaming confrontations with protesters.

    The directive Trump signed Monday repeals Obama-era limitations on police agencies’ access to camouflage uniforms, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms, ammunition and other items. The policy change is another way in which Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are enacting a law-and-order agenda that sees federal support of local police as key to driving down violent crime.

    Sessions announced Trump’s decision to roaring applause Monday at a national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the groups that had urged Trump to restore the military program.

    Restrictions put in place by former President Barack Obama “went too far,” Sessions said. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.”

    Read more…

    • More…

      Obama issued an executive order in 2015 that severely limited the program, partly triggered by public outrage over the use of military gear during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police responded in riot gear and deployed tear gas, dogs and armored vehicles. At times they also pointed assault rifles at protesters.

      Obama’s order prohibited the federal government from providing grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, and firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or greater to police.

      Trump vowed to rescind the executive order in a written response to a Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire that helped him win an endorsement from the organization of rank-and-file officers. He reiterated his promise during a gathering of police officers in July, saying the equipment still on the streets is being put to good use.

      The NAACP Legal Defense Fund said in a statement Sunday night it is “exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible” for the administration to lift the ban.

      “Just a few summers ago, our nation watched as Ferguson raised the specter of increased police militarization. The law enforcement response there and in too many places across the country demonstrated how perilous, especially for Black and Brown communities, a militarized police force can be,” the group said.

      “The president’s decision to make this change in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and against a backdrop of frayed relations between police and communities of color further reflects this administration’s now open effort to escalate racial tensions in our country,” the organization said.

      Sessions has said he believes boosting morale among police can help curb spikes in violence in some cities. The plan to restore access to military equipment comes after Sessions has said he intends to pull back on court-enforceable improvement plans with troubled police departments, which he says can malign entire agencies and make officers less aggressive on the street.

  6. Trump has ordered the military to resume sending tanks, high caliber guns, and grenades to local law enforcement.

    Obama, seeing the images of machine guns being aimed at American citizens, ordered that to stop.

    Trump is ramping up the militarization of local police, and he’s encouraged them to rough up people.

    FFS GOP, end this, this is not going well for you now and will not end well for you later. Take the hit before it gets worse.

      • World.Class.Grifter.

        I hate repeating myself but…

        Damn the Trump voters. Damn their bitch a$$es to hell.

        • It’s worse than most people realize. In the early days of Trump’s administration they purged anyone who had ever said/posted/thought anything anti-Trump, and they purged anyone who ever said “climate change”.

          That, along with the stigma many people feel comes with working for Trump, has led to hundreds of critical positions going unfilled.

          And two weeks ago Trump repealed some some Obama regulations about flooding.

          For the first time in his Presidency I’m rooting for him, and I know the people left are doing what they can, but having what appears to be one of the worst natural disasters in American history being managed by the B team is not encouraging.

          FFS, GOP, do what’s needed for Texas and then get rid of this train wreck of a POTUS.

          • Mexico reiterated that they will not pay for that stupid wall yesterday.

            Today, they are offering help for Texas, because, they say, that’s what good neighbor do.

            Trump, being outclassed by Mexico, a country that is our friend, that he has disparaged repeatedly on Twitter.

        • Oh, of course, Ted Cruz, who voted against aide for hurricane Sandy victims, is calling for federal help for Texas, for the second time.

          Seems “bleed the beast” only applies to other people’s pain.

          No Director At The National Hurricane Center And NOAA yet under Trump, but he had time to break all the rules and pardon a fat racist podunk sheriff.

          • Good catch, Tom. With Trump trying to decimate everything with the name “Obama”, sometimes one barely notices…

            Trump Rolls Back Obama-Era Flood Standards For Infrastructure Projects
            August 16, 20175:45 PM ET

            … Among other things, he is rolling back an Obama-era order that infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, be designed to survive rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

            The executive order was meant to protect taxpayer dollars spent on projects in areas prone to flooding and to improve “climate resilience” across the U.S. — that is, communities’ ability to cope with the consequences of global warming.

            President Barack Obama signed the order in 2015, but the changes have not taken effect; FEMA has been soliciting input and drafting new rules.

            Now, the order has been revoked as part of an effort to “slash the time it takes” to approve new infrastructure projects…


          • Trump’s detachment from the American people has never been so painfully obvious.

            I think we just sunk deeper into the pit.

            God knows how it ends.

  7. Eric Holder‏Verified account @EricHolder 19h19 hours ago

    Number of times over six years that President Obama called and asked me to think about dropping a case: ZERO

  8. A few words from ride or die Uncle Joe:

    ‘We Are Living Through a Battle for the Soul of This Nation’

    The former vice president calls on Americans to do what President Trump has not

    JOE BIDEN AUG 27, 2017

    In January of 2009, I stood waiting in Wilmington, Delaware, for a train carrying the first African American elected president of the United States. I was there to join him as vice president on the way to a historic Inauguration. It was a moment of extraordinary hope for our nation—but I couldn’t help thinking about a darker time years before at that very site.

    My mind’s eye drifted back to 1968. I could see the flames burning Wilmington, the violence erupting on the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the federal troops taking over my city.

    I was living history—and reliving it—at the same time. And the images racing through my mind were a vivid demonstration that when it comes to race in America, hope doesn’t travel alone. It’s shadowed by a long trail of violence and hate.

    In Charlottesville, that long trail emerged once again into plain view not only for America, but for the whole world to see. The crazed, angry faces illuminated by torches. The chants echoing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s. The neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists emerging from dark rooms and remote fields and the anonymity of the web into the bright light of day on the streets of a historically significant American city.

    If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.

    Read more…

    • Joe Biden (continued):

      The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America. Are we really surprised they rose up? Are we really surprised they lashed back? Did we really think they would be extinguished with a whimper rather than a fight?

      Did we think the charlatans and the con-men and the false prophets who have long dotted our history wouldn’t revisit us, once again prop up the immigrant as the source of all our troubles, and look to prey on the hopelessness and despair that has grown up in the hollowed-out cities and towns of Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and the long-forgotten rural stretches of West Virginia and Kentucky?

      We have fought this battle before—but today we have a special challenge.

      Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.

      We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support.

    • Joe Biden’s call to action (continued):

      A week after Charlottesville, in Boston, we saw the truth of America: Those with the courage to oppose hate far outnumber those who promote it.

      Then a week after Boston, we saw the truth of this president: He won’t stop. His contempt for the U.S. Constitution and willingness to divide this nation knows no bounds. Now he’s pardoned a law-enforcement official who terrorized the Latino community, violated its constitutional rights, defied a federal court order to stop, and ran a prison system so rife with torture and abuse he himself called it a “concentration camp.”

      You, me, and the citizens of this country carry a special burden in 2017. We have to do what our president has not. We have to uphold America’s values. We have to do what he will not. We have to defend our Constitution. We have to remember our kids are watching. We have to show the world America is still a beacon of light.

      Joined together, we are more than 300 million strong. Joined together, we will win this battle for our soul. Because if there’s one thing I know about the American people, it’s this: When it has mattered most, they have never let this nation down.

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