|America is staring into the abyss and preparing to jump
(April 18, 2016)
A wise man once taught me: “Nobody is completely useless; at worst he can be held up as a bad example.” It is in that spirit of hopefulness and constructive criticism that I come to praise Donald Trump (or “Drumpf”), not to bury him. Thanks to Trump, this electoral silly season has generated some of the most relevant analyses about U.S. politics, the kind of commentary that we should have started in 1980. Regardless of how one feels about Trump, his candidacy is profoundly significant.
Thirty or 40 years ago, Trump would have been laughed off the political stage. Bombastic, bloviating, buffoonish and in love with his own self-importance, he has morphed into The Great Attractor for voter anger.
Of course, American voters are not exactly the smartest of people. Pander to their basest prejudices and they’ll vote like trained seals. If you prove to them that their beliefs are wrong, they’ll go through contortions to justify their fallacies and dismiss any inconvenient facts. An example of such cognitive dissonance occurred when a reporter asked two Trump supporters what they thought of some of his statements. These included: “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think”; and “Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.”
The respondents expressed support for the quotes even after the reporter told them that they were not from Trump but Adolf Hitler. Neither respondent felt shock or shame or disavowed Trump. Instead, they went into full denial mode, professing their faith in their saviour and refusing to accept any connection with infamous Austrian painter. One of them even said he didn’t support Hitler but agreed with the quotes.
The religious allusion is apt because Trump’s campaign resembles an ol’ fashioned religious revival where on each stop more and more credulous people come to seek salvation from a third-rate Elmer Gantry. That millions of Americans are prepared to cast their vote for a dilettante who spouts fascist ideas shows in what contempt they hold politicians and government.
Survivial of the fascist?
One of the U.S.’s more intelligent political observers is Robert Reich, former labour secretary under President Bill Clinton. On March 8, he penned an essay entitled The American Fascist in which he likened Trump to Mussolini and Hitler. The intent was to warn people about the danger Trump presents to the U.S. and the world:
Viewing Donald Trump in light of the fascists of the first half of the twentieth century—who used economic stresses to scapegoat others, created cults of personality, intimidated opponents, incited violence, glorified their nations and disregarded international law, and connected directly with the masses—helps explain what Trump is doing and how he is succeeding.
However accurate Reich’s information about Trump may be, he overstates his case. As I wrote in my book The Host and The Parasite—How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America, the U.S. government has been fascist or proto-fascist for more than 30 years, and this fascism has been predominantly Jewish. I show that from Harry Truman to George W. Bush the U.S. went through six stages of increasing fascism called “zionization.” (Barack Obama’s reign as Israel’s governor on the Potomac is insufficiently different from his predecessor’s to qualify as a separate stage.)
The more relevant issue is whether Trump can be considered fascist if he is running against the already fascist GOP, God’s Own Plutocrats. Here are examples from both sides of the argument.
Trump is fascist
Writing in Salon, Fedja Buric, assistant professor of history at Bellarmine University, said that Trump, like Mussolini, is the beneficiary of a prolonged period of “ideological restlessness,” a period during which people become sick of backroom politics, corruption and pointless debates. Italians in 1920s looked to Mussolini and his fascists to cure their restlessness, and it is here that Buric connects fascism and “Trumpism”:
Fascism promised people deliverance from politics. Fascism was not just [a] different type of politics, but anti-politics. Fascists’ main enemies were not just Marxist politicians, or liberal politicians, but politicians in general. It is therefore no coincidence that the most common explanation Trump supporters muster when asked about their vote is that “he is no politician.”
Imperfections in the parallel between Trump and Mussolini do not bother Buric because, as he rightly noted, the ideology of fascism varies from country to country. The real benefit of his analysis, however, is that he not only connects Trump with fascism but also with a pre-existing fascism:
Of course American historians have pointed to this larger strand of anti-intellectualism in American politics, but what is different about this moment is that Trump has successfully wedded this anti-Enlightenment mood with the anti-political rage of the Republican base.
Despite his anti-political appeal, however, Trump still cleaves to many of the same anti-intellectual canards that define the so-called Republican establishment, such as denial of climate change, opposition to abortion services and hostility to immigration. So, if Trump is a fascist, he is also part of the fascist system he purports to oppose.
Trump is not fascist
On the other side of the debate are those who reject the fascism label in favour of demagogue—a political leader who panders to voter prejudice and ego instead of reason. Think of Broderick Crawford’s portrayal of Willie Stark in the 1963 film All the King’s Men. Trump, the argument goes, represents a familiar feature of U.S. democracy, not an anti-political alien. According to Daniel Ziblatt, professor of government at Harvard University, Trump simply lacks the ideological zealotry to qualify as a fascist:
Demagogues,…are willing to do or say anything to gain office or to consolidate their power. Unconstrained by ideology, they have no concern for the consequences of their actions. Anything that serves to make them more powerful is good enough for them — even if the political system that facilitated their rise should be destroyed in the process. This, rather than some deep similarity to fascism, also explains the affinity between demagogues and political violence. True fascists venerate violence but also want to make it serve a purpose larger than themselves, like territorial conquest. Demagogues, on the other hand, tap into the most violent currents in a population simply to bolster their own popularity.
This is what happened in Chicago when Trump publicly embraced violence against protesters. Although his behaviour was repugnant, it was also laughable. How could anyone mistake such pandering for real politics? Trump’s command of English was, and is, puerile, repetitive and unfocused. All that was missing from his performance was a bombastic declaration like “I am Charles.... Foster....Kane!”
The argument over the essence of The Donald boils down to one statement: all fascists are demagogues, but not all demagogues are fascists. Since Trump clearly is a demagogue, and since there is credible evidence on either side of the fascism argument, trying to force the issue is unproductive. More to the point, it’s a dangerous sideshow that distracts the nation from the far greater electoral threat: Hillary Clinton.
Will the real fascist please stand up?
Clinton is the establishment’s choice to perpetuate the warmongering, plutocratic status quo. Bernie Sanders is too rational and compassionate to be acceptable to corporations and Israel’s power brokers, while on the “Republican” side, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are failures waiting to happen, and Trump is far too feral for comfort.
Clinton is that most dangerous of politicians: a psychopathic dissembler who effortlessly feigns reasonableness and fairness. Like her husband, she is bought and paid for by Big Jews, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks and Big Armaments. She has actively endorsed every U.S. war of aggression since the 1990s—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—none of which served the U.S. national interest or even had a defensible political objective.
Now, she is frothing at the mouth to destroy Syria. No sane, moral person takes delight in war or the murder of another person, no matter who that person might be, yet Clinton expressed unreserved glee at turning Libya from a stable country into a failed state and at the murder of its president Muammar Qaddafi: “We came. We saw. He died.”
To one degree or another all these wars were a waste of American lives, resources, integrity and money to serve the imperial homeland’s need to lay waste Muslim states. Trump may be a narcissistic man-child with no impulse control, but he’s not a traitor or an Israeli fifth column. As far as can been seen, Trump would stop the military madness and govern America for Americans, and that alone makes him preferable to the zionist warmonger.
By rights, Clinton’s unfitness for the White House should be consistent front page news, and editorials should be calling for her to be investigated. Instead, Time, The Atlantic and other organs write about the demagogue in our midst. This is the cynical effect of the fascist/not fascist issue. Factual coverage of Trump allows the establishment media to give Clinton a virtual free ride and make her look electable by comparison.
Tragically, Trump’s self-destructive bouts of Political Profanity Disorder make the job easy. In a particularly egregious fit, he declared that a woman who seeks an abortion should be punished. How this would be enforced was never explained (as if that were possible), but Trump did not even appreciate that it would be illegal, immoral and unconstitutional. It was preposterous on its face and politically suicidal. At length, he had to retract and apologize. The only beneficiary was Clinton, who will play up her alleged feminist and social equality credentials for all they’re worth.
In contrast to Trump’s pronouncements, the establishment media gloss over Clinton’s unfitness for office ; if it does get a mention, it’s isolated and does not generate legs. For example, On April 12 the New York Review of Books published an lengthy article by Simon Head, senior fellow at the Rothemere American Institute at Oxford University, detailing the unseemly close relationship between the Clintons and Goldman Sachs, whose corrupt lending practices helped bring about the 2007–2008 banking crisis. Head all but showed Bill and Hillary Clinton to be paid agents of the bank, especially in light of Hillary Clinton’s refusal to publish transcripts of her three 2013 speeches to Goldman Sachs, for which she was paid $675,000:
In a February 25 editorial, The New York Times argued that Clinton’s “stonewalling” on the Goldman transcripts “plays into the hands of those who say she’s not trustworthy and makes her own rules” and “most important, is damaging her credibility among Democrats who are begging her to show them that she’d run an accountable and transparent White House.” But the Times editorial did not get to the heart of the matter. The larger question is, Why was she giving these speeches at all—and accepting such hefty payments for them—given Goldman Sachs’s record during the Great Recession of 2007–2008?…
One Goldman executive told Politico in early February that Clinton sounded “like a Goldman Sachs managing director,” while a report in The Wall Street Journal on February 11 quoted another unnamed source, who said Clinton’s greetings toward her Goldman audiences “bordered on ‘gushy.’”
Because so much of Clinton’s true nature is hidden from view and because all of Trump’s shortcomings are on public display, Democratic voters have a skewed appreciation of who the real danger is and how to vote. This election should be about supporting Bernie Sanders so that Democrats, especially women, can have a clear choice, not one polluted by feminist tokenism or moral backsliding. Instead, the anti-Trump juggernaut has convinced Liberals and organizations like Avaaz to gang up behind Clinton to stop Trump, thus setting up the tragedy of well-meaning but soft-headed Liberals being the instrument of the nation’s undoing.
On the same day that Head’s piece appeared, The Nation ran one by Tom Hayden entitled, “I Used to Support Bernie, but Then I Changed My Mind”. After declaring that party unity against Trump trumps everything, Hayden goes on to attack Sanders’ ban on fracking (“too divisive”) and his populist clarity (“problematic”). He says Sanders would not survive a full-scale Republican (read: Trump) media attack or be around long enough to effect meaningful reform. Hayden prefers Clinton’s half-measures and disarming persona, and he waxes rhapsodic about his days with her doing environmental work in 1969. Then we come to this non sequitur:
I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason. It has to do with race. My life since 1960 has been committed to the causes of African Americans, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, and freedom struggles in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America. … My wife is a descendant of the Oglala Sioux, and my whole family is inter-racial.
What does this have to do with anything?! Is Hayden implying that Sanders is not racially tolerant? What qualifies a privileged Caucasian like Clinton to be hailed as a champion of racial tolerance, anyway? More to the point, Hayden’s condescending put-downs of Sanders now appear as gratuitous insults designed to stampede Democrats into voting for Clinton.
Clinton, seen through the skewed prism of tokenism and gauzy flashbacks, is not the same Clinton running to serve Israel and corporations and accelerate the hollowing out of America. Hayden obviously never read the March 1 piece in The Huffington Post by John Sanbonmatsu, assistant professor of political ethics and philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic:
Liberals, beware: casting a vote for Clinton is to affirm militarism, economic inequality, and Wall Street. It is to vote for the ecological meltdown of our planet, duplicity in government, the control of our institutions by the rich, drone strikes, government surveillance of the people, and perpetual war. It is to cast a ballot against the interests of the working poor, and for the interests of Goldman Sachs and Big Pharma.
Who really cares if Trump is fascist or faux-fascist?—Given a choice between an obnoxious American and a duplicitous foreign agent, voters need to weigh the suicidal danger of voting based on likeability.