please do NOT give Trump a pass...

If the Trump/Mussolini parallels are not obvious by now, you are not paying attention. Or it could be you don't know "Il Duce" and his calculated bravado, exaggerated macho poses in public and narcissism. I am not one to honor simplification when it comes to matters concerning the common good. But, we must be clear:  Trump is NOT simply a political aberration or a joke. He is a talented marketing genius who has tapped into a festering wound in the American body politic.
Say what you like about Robert Reich, he has identified the "base" of Trump supporters:  1) white working class folk without a college education who have been hit the hardest by the economic depression of the past nine years; 2) white evangelicals who have conflated America's strength with Christianity; 3) political independents who are sick unto death of the way the professional political class of both parties has the nation in gridlock; and 4) women and men who value "speaking his mind" more than the policy implications of his words. There are not solid parallels between post WWI Italy and post Financial Melt Down USA, with two exceptions:

+ First, both working class and lower middle class populations experienced social and economic privation before the rise of Fascism. This group of citizens - then and now - want a life with a brighter economic future than the status quo offers. They have seen personal wealth shrink and social status diminished. And while they are utilitarian but not ideological, they trust that the business manager command model is both the most efficient and most fair way to "get the country back on track."  As Mussolini promised:  I will make certain that the trains run on time!   

+ Second, both populations have fears that have historically been easy to exploit.  In Italy, it was the political left and the Jews; in the United States, it is the technocrats and the Muslims (and just to be fair let's include immigrants, Mexicans and the Chinese, too.) As Sam Keen pointed out all so long ago, when hurting people become angry and afraid, it is not hard to dehumanize a minority who looks, acts and worships differently than those of the dominant society.  Mussolini could use nearly 2000 years of Roman Catholic anti-Semitism to fuel the fires of discrimination and hatred. .Trump can rely upon both our prejudice and fear of Muslims given the various Al Qaeda and ISIL attacks; and the simple fact that our global economy moves jobs and capital around without regard to what happens to those left behind. This weekend, Trump exploited the anger of former autoworkers in Michigan. Then he flew to Florida and did likewise using nativist bigotry of immigrants.

What? You think the gentleman doth protest too much? What does this look like to you?

Again, the parallels are not complete, but this is fascism in the making and people of faith must not give Trump a pass. His actions are not accidents of history: they are intentional and manipulative. Erich Fromm, in his chilling analysis of those who gave support to a young Adolf Hitler in the years following Germany's defeat after WWI, (Escape from Freedom) made it clear that is was not the poor nor the  intellectuals that supported the Nazis, it was the petty bourgeoisie - the small shop keepers, merchants and unskilled tradespeople - who flocked to the Fuhrer's promise of a new and brighter future.  And, with obvious exceptions, I see history repeating itself on American soil. As we've heard before: those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Not that we don't already have a long history of scapegoating and bigotry, but there hasn't been anything like this in America since the early days of desegregation. In 2016, it has become acceptable to be openly racist, angry, degrading, misogynist, mean-spirited, historically stupid and unaccountable for the violence and hatred your words unleash into an already wounded body politic. There have been some brilliant and biting satires of Trump shared on Face Book - and that is one avenue that I pray will increase - because tyrants are unhinged when their shadow side is exposed.

But please, the time has come when we can no longer laugh or ignore this problem away: now is the time to organize, pray, vote, challenge, speak up and be informed so that we do not give Trump a pass on his dangerous and ugly words, thoughts and policies.

Comments

Elmer Ewing said…
I am a regular follower of your blog, and there are many of your posts that I greatly appreciate, but maybe this is your most important one ever. Thank you for an excellent analysis. (BTW, I have great respect for Robert Reich.)
RJ said…
You are very welcome, Elmer. I am grateful that you read my postings. (I like RR often, too.) Thank you again.

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