In possibly the greatest speech of his career, Senator John McCain identified the dangerous weaknesses and threats facing America and the world from trumpism.
“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history...”
The tired dogma of the past that Donald Trump resurrects is Fascism. Do not compare Trump to the Nazis and Hitler. Compare Donald Trump to Mussolini, the founder of the Fascist ideology developed in Italy and adopted unsuccessfully in WWII Italy and Germany and quite successfully in Franco’s Spain, a regime that survived right into the 1970s. Fascism as defined by Merriam-Webster:
“…is a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
“...For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice: this fact explains many aspects of the practical working of the regime, the character of many forces in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be taken against those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy in the twentieth century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the nineteenth century - repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage to undertake great experiments of social and political transformation; for never before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction and order. If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of our time.’
Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, clearly follows fascist principals and invokes fascist language. Russia’s historic mission, dying for the nation, restoring greatness are not the Soviet Union’s language; it is the language of Mussolini, Hitler and sundry other fascists. Socialism and communism are repudiated for the rule of elites usually from business, military and religion.
Trump’s actions follow the path well worn by fascist leaders from Putin all the way back to early last century. His goal is clearly to destroy faith in national institutions and establish himself as the only person who can ‘fix it’. Trump’s cabinet appointments provide graphic evidence of intent to undermine the very government institutions protecting the government and the people.
Former Senator Jeff Sessions as head of the Justice Department was once turned down for a federal judgeship because he “he was too racist” and he has a history of being anti-equal rights and pro-authoritarian. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, is fresh off harming Michigan’s schools where “She has also been a force behind the spread of charter schools in Michigan, most of which have recorded student test scores in reading and math below the state average.” Also, DeVos is involved with for profit education, a field rife with fraud and lies like the infamous Trump University. Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental protection Agency and a climate denier, is a loyal fossil energy company ally and longtime enemy of the environmental agency he now leads. He directed his department to remove every reference to climate change on every departmental website.
Nearly every Trump appointment is either hostile to or completely ignorant of the agencies that they are assigned to lead. Hand selected incompetent leadership, coupled with slashed budgets, almost guarantee government bureaucratic failure and destruction of public confidence in national institutions.
Trump’s cry of Fake News with every report critical of his administration is in keeping with fascist principals. Accuse the media of endangering national security. Accuse media of falsely attacking Trump’s honest efforts to make America safer and stronger. Threaten media licenses. Encourage his mob to attack media. Accusing the media is an old meme. What is new is Twitter which gives Trump direct access to both the press and the population at large.
This twitter platform is replacing his White House Communications office and making mincemeat of his cabinet heads by undermining them without notice or apparent cause. Trump, dear leader, is the only person that matters. Even then, the world and allies are learning his word is worthless.
Trump’s fickleness alone undermines faith in government institutions while establishing Trump as the source to trust but only momentarily. He rants: Be afraid; the world is a dangerous place. The subtext is that Trump alone can keep the country safe from grandiose threats while glorifying military and police.
Donald Trump places America extremely near or well within a fascism where business, military and religious leaders snatch unconstitutional power from the people. Will next up be a huge military parade for a major holiday, perhaps 4 July?
As Greg Hines of Crain’s Chicago Business reported this week, former President Obama said; “American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.”
This threat is real and in power.
For more on Trump and Republican Fascism listen to Martin Vasquez and me on our radio show Perspectives - Veterans and Families