On the Trump Phenomenon
There have been several comments that either take exception to my positions or statements on the Trump phenomenon or raise questions on how I could say such things in the first place.
Perhaps most prominent amongst these is the question of how I could suggest that doing nothing could be worse than doing whatever Trump might eventually do. A related question seems to raise the point of whether Trump could ever do most of what I think he might.
Let’s first address the second question. This is related to my opinion that Trump resembles Adolph Hitler in all too many ways. As Elfrieda Smith has pointed out, Hitler’s rise to power was not famous for his poll numbers. He was never elected the Fuhrer, for instance. In fact, his general standing with the public never equaled Trump’s during the period of his (Hitler’s) rise to power.
Predicting the future has been said to always be difficult. Much easier to point out how the past came to be what it was. In between lies predicting what might have been. Suppose Hitler had refrained from invading Russia when he did, for instance. That Hitler might have won the war in that circumstance is easily defendable. Had Hitler done a number of things differently, the same conclusion is equally defendable. Therefor the conclusion that Hitler might well have won the war is very defendable.
That said, the claim that, “Save repeated missed opportunities, Hitler might have been a success story instead of a monster gone bad” seems pretty reasonable. How this observation helps analyze Trump’s rise remains a matter of conjecturing on the future. But, if anything is obvious from what has already taken place, it is that pundits have routinely underestimated him.
The first question of whether doing nothing could be worse than letting Trump do the deciding over what will be done is, I think, answered by the fact that we are having to deal with Trump at all. I find it amazing that people like McConnell don’t see this. The resistance to the leadership in the Republican Party is a direct result of everyone’s disgust at government doing nothing for so long.
Perhaps my biggest fear about Trump is that he might become the man who replaces democracy in America. I see Trump as a willing participant in arena-packed venues of saluting and goose-stepping idolators. That kind of public support needs no frosting of democracy to support it. In fact, democracy might make the institution of a regime based on such idolatry more likely, not less.
Also, if Trump were to become president, which is a distinct possibility now, he would have an army at his disposal. With an army–or air force, or navy, or special forces–nothing would stop him from starting a war. That would change every calculus we might make from today’s viewpoint. Nothing about Trump’s personality makes me think he would exercise restraint in exercising the power that would accompany having an army at his disposal. Therefor I think the chances of stopping Trump before he becomes president is much greater than stopping him after. I really think the only way to accomplish that, should he become president, would be to defeat him in a war.
That so many dismiss that as an impossibility is proof positive that we learn little or nothing from history. What did we learn from the actual Hitler? Would any of the “it will never happen here” crowd have predicted Hitler’s rise to his heights at Paris or Dunkirk in 1935?
The additional comments revolved mostly around my suggestion that this may not be such a bad thing. In particular, how might having Trump as president possibly be a positive? Well, from the perspective of a 1930’s German, Hitler, if he had not lost world War II, would not necessarily have been such a bad thing. The German population that was Jewish would certainly not have viewed it this way. But they were distinctly in the minority. “Sieg Heil,” was never very popular with them, but almost everyone in that country chanted it when Hitler was at his height.
Before you choke on the concept of an advocate–no, of an instigator–of genocide being lauded as a possible positive, let me point out that this is exactly the situation Americans find themselves in today when they consider the actions of their forebears with regard to the American Indian. For example, we think of Kit Carson as a hero. But a reasonable case can be made that he was as guilty of genocide as Hitler. The main difference was numbers and being on the winning side. I am not even sure of the numbers assertion. What is clear, though, is the winning side comment. If Hitler had won WWII, would we think so ill of him as we do today? I doubt it.
Consider, for example, North Korea. Would it be such a bad thing if Trump were to obliterate Pyongyang in response to the North Korean leader’s belligerent behavior? It may depend upon China’s response. If they jump in and come to blows with the Donald over it, then the spin that goes with the bombing of Pyongyang would probably be connected to who were to win the conflict. It would probably not depend on how many innocent people die in Pyongyang. In any case, I do not think Trump would let the presence or absence of innocent people in casualty lists figure into his decision process. More likely, I think, would the decision depend on how he thought the bombing would affect his standing with the public. In the end, one can easily see how the Trump reaction to the craziness of the North Korean leadership might be regarded by the masses as a form of genius.
Or how about climate change? One of Trump’s strongest appeals might eventually boil down to climate change. Think how much more effective response to climate change under an American dictatorship would be than under the oligarchy we currently have. There is presently little to make us suspect Trump is gong to rush to the rescue on climate change. But, like war itself, climate change will change everything. Trump may look much better as a leader when we finally confront climate change head on, which we will eventually have to do. And Trump capitalizing on Florida under five or ten feet of Ocean is much easier to imagine than Cruz doing so.