You don’t have to look hard to find progressives giddy over Trump’s ascendancy. Just scroll down your Facebook page or check out the comments to posts here. Our own commenter, the omniscient Captain Arizona, is on board. “The enemy of your enemy is your friend,” he explains.
Where it is still permitted, we undoubtedly will see progressive mischief makers cross over to vote for Trump in Republican primaries, if his show lasts that long.
As I’ve written previously, I’m sure Trump will crash, or at least fade. Nonetheless, his success thus far should be cause for alarm, not celebration, among thinking, decent people. Face it: If Trump survived the Republican primaries, the only thing between him and the presidency would be people of color. White America would be ready to elect him, perhaps in a landslide. That reality should be chilling.
Trump not only is whipping a huge (and growing) segment of the population into a nativist, nationalist frenzy, he’s doing so based on pure fiction. Our current net in-migration rate is approximately zero. It might even be slightly negative.
On the world stage, however, mass immigration and right-wing nationalist backlash are real, with the associated dangers growing. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon connects the reality in Europe to the seeming unreality of Trump. His analysis should give those progressives rooting for Trump pause.
In It can definitely happen here: Trump’s proto-fascist vision of America and Europe’s wrenching migrant crisis, O’Hehir describes the under-reported situation in Europe:
Humanitarian concerns dictate one kind of response, and for all of Europe’s internal conflict on the immigration question, putting human rights first (or at least appearing to) is a foundational element of postwar European identity that has not entirely been sacrificed to the market or to politics. But the politics of this crisis are increasingly toxic. Every governing party in every European nation faces widespread rebellion and imminent defeat if it is perceived as overly welcoming to the incoming human tide. Harsh words and strict counter-measures are called for, despite the self-evident fact that they have done nothing to stanch the flow. The collision between those forces produces many bad things, including a human-smuggling ring whose leaders are too stupid or too sleazy to know that you cannot safely transport human beings inside a sealed compartment intended to keep chicken thighs from going bad.
If the Austrian death truck – with its accidental but unavoidable echo of the Nazi extermination vans used along the roadsides of central and eastern Europe 75 years earlier – was the worst single headline to emerge from Europe’s catastrophic migrant crisis this week, it had plenty of competition. At least 52 people died aboard an overcrowded boat trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Sicily earlier in the week, and on Friday the Libyan Red Crescent reported that two more boats had capsized near the port city of Zuwara, with 84 people confirmed dead and 18 still missing.
That makes at least 207 people who have lost their lives this week alone, desperately trying to reach a continent that desperately does not want them.
O’Hehir makes a point that is at once obvious and one the American press seems hell-bent on ignoring:
[I]f we were willing to look closely at Europe’s dreadful paradox we might notice that the ideological climate looks pretty similar but the scale is entirely different, and we might come to understand that in comparison our so-called immigration problem barely exists. Most demographic data suggests that the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has fallen slightly in the past few years, and that the 250,000 or so people who enter the country illegally every year are roughly balanced out by the number who leave.
Could America come to face an immigration challenge as real as Europe’s? Of course. Walls and oceans don’t change natural forces. Just as gas moves from high pressure to low, people will seek to move from scarcity to plenty, from conflict to peace, and from subjugation to freedom.
Which is why America’s current Trump mania should make us all shudder. O’Hehir:
If we’re this crazy now, try to imagine what breeds of goblins and demons a migration crisis on that scale might conjure up in America, especially given the decrepit condition of our democracy and our, shall we say, inconsistent recent record on human rights. Or on second thought, don’t. Donald Trump is like the aging Borscht Belt comedian who opens the show, warming up the crowd and getting us in the mood – in this case, the mood for fascism. He’s not the headline attraction, who knows better than to show his face before we’re good and ready.
Expanding on O’Hehir’s analogy, I don’t want the “crowd” in America any more warmed up than it is. Truth is, the current temperature of the crowd scares the crap out of me.
Yes, the consternation Trump has created in the Republican party establishment is entertaining. But if you’re rooting for it to continue, be careful what you wish for.