Are we moving toward fascism? My designated term of endearment for our president, Ass-Clown Hitler, was chosen for a reason as the only thing standing between our nation and some extra-strength Nazinol is Trump’s three-ring stupidity. What many of us despise about Trump, his terminal buffoonery, may actually be our saving grace. There’s certainly a down side to having an ass-clown leading the free world, but what if he were Dick Cheney? Cheney was smart and evil, which is a much more potent force. Come on, Dick, if the jackboot fits… Granted, conservatives are generally not the sharpest political tools in the shed, but if we keep re-electing them one of these days they’re going to get it alt-right.
Most of team Trump is dangerously inept, so a move fascistward will be haphazard at best, with many fits and starts. It will be interesting to see how General McMaster fairs in his key position as the only firing neuron in the Trumpian-skullcap. Will cooler heads prevail, or will he be forced to drink the KooK-Aid? McMaster will likely have his Colin Powell/UN moment, but let’s hope he makes a better decision. More likely, he’ll be run out of Dodge before then. Dodge Challenger?
Many journalists are now anticipating a Hitleresque Reichstag moment. This was the act of terror perpetrated against the German government that Der Fuhrer used to solidify his power. Similarly, since 9/11, we have always been dancing closer to constitutional disaster. My related article from over a decade ago, here. It covers the bombing of the Reichstag, which triggered Hitler’s creation of something called Homeland Security. Sound familiar? Here’s when the topic shifted to Bush’s suspension of Habeas Corpus:
“With that pesky Habeas Corpus out of the way, Hitler created some secret prisons and expanded the Secret Police’s standard interrogation techniques, or Versch ärfte Vernehmung, to include stress positions, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding. Oh, wait, they didn’t officially include waterboarding, as that would clearly constitute torture and they could get themselves into a real international pressure-cooker if they admitted to that. The Gestapo really dodged an electrode to the nad on that one.”
9/11 triggered the erosion-phase of our freedoms. Bush brought us the Patriot Act and all the horrors therein. On a positive note, Obama rolled back torture, restored habeas corpus and closed secret sites. On a negative note, he expanded the drone and the NSA surveillance programs.
Fun Fact: Dems have always been a mixed bag and Republicans have always been a bag of mixed nuts.
Enters Drumpf, who wants to bring back torture in a bad way (pardon the pun) as well as black sites and secret prisons. Trump will likely even resume Cheney’s secret police aspirations. I’m sure someone somewhere is dusting off the old Cheney files, which begs the question: is there still time to steal the blueprints for the Death Star? Bannon is the closest thing Trump has to a Cheney, but he doesn’t seem so much von Ribbentrop as von Korsakoff. Again, how effective will the ass-clown version of fascism really be is anyone’s guess. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if Bannon was goose-stepped off the island, which seems increasingly likely.
The militarization of our local police departments is all part of this game and it seems to occur under both parties, regardless of the crime rate. Jeff Sessions is itching to rekindle the failed War on Drugs. If at first you don’t succeed, kick in the door, shoot the dog and seize their property. This week we saw the advent of the armed police drone, here, which is the first step toward:
Naomi Wolfe covered the march toward fascism in 2007 Thailand. Her Guardian breakdown:
“The coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.”
Is any of this sounding familiar to someone’s first 100 years …er, I mean days? No? How about:
“Well don’t be sad, ’cause three out of six aint bad.”
One thing that always happens at the onset of fascism is this wave of nationalistic fervor. Juan Cole breaks down Robert Paxton’s five stages of fascism (bold):
Stage one is the creation, and consists of individuals, isolated cells or groups that talk about national humiliation, lost vigor, and the failures of liberalism and democracy.
During stage two these fringe individuals and splinter groups form a larger group or party that takes root in the political system.
Check under Tea Baggers and Freedumb Caucus.
Stage three marks the seizure of power over the government. Typically, the takeover is nonviolent; it occurs often in alliance with conservatives.
Check under November election.
Stage four is a coordinated and disciplined effort to break with the previous regime.
This is the where the Ass-Clown part may yet save us. Trump is to coordination as Hell’s Kitchen is to Mayberry.
In stage five, fascists choose between radicalization and entropy.
This is when a permanent revolution is implemented, which will likely take the form of he endless War on Error, with just a pinch of the War on Drugs. Reince Priebus, repeat.
So don’t be sad, ’cause three out of…wait, did I already do the Meat Loaf bit?
Republicans are like the Pinky side of Pinky and the Brain. The evil genius of the equation is thankfully MIA. Could they still get us all killed? There’s a very good chance. My guess is we will gradually shift toward fascism, but it will ultimately be stopped by those true independents and liberals among us. Resist. The Reichstag moment is clearly possible, but the chaotic aftermath would likely be more dangerous than any coordinated power grab. We can prevent some of the dangers by restoring the balance of power during the 2018 mid-terms. I remain cautiously pessimistic. We must fight these alt-right neo Nazis by organizing our college peeps to put down the skull bong and the crappy beer long enough to descend on those voting booths en masse. Schlitzkrieg?