How did an ongoing debate about how to deal with a population of 11 or so million undocumented immigrants so quickly turn into calls for mass deportation, revocation of birthright citizenship and barrier walls on our southern border? (fences are so yesterday) You could ask the current GOP front runner Donald Trump but you’re likely not to get a straight answer. As his recent debate performance demonstrated, Trump doesn’t believe he has to answer questions, especially ones coming from losers and little people with microphones.
But the question is still worth asking and it deserves an answer. I have no desire to save the GOP from itself, politically. National polls consistently show that a broad majority of the electorate would never vote for Trump, which is good news for Democrats. But polls can change. If Trump does get the Republican Party nomination he could win the presidency. And despite the smug snickers coming from some progressives who are basking in their schadenfreudeover the GOP’s Trump problem, his political rise is a problem for all of us- not just the GOP.
"Fascists are not ideologues. They don’t hawk position papers or political philosophies. They are the supreme rulers of political cults."The problem is that Donald Trump, in every way that matters, is a fascist. He reminds one of Mussolini- a corporatist buffoon with a huge ego and a mean streak. He is a first rate demagogue. His brand of racial politics is just vague enough to be popular with enough people to earn him a serious following, but specific enough for us to know the atrocities this type of talk can lead to. He has essentially called for an ethnic cleansing campaign to eradicate “illegals” from the U.S., the targets of which would surely not be the Swedish student who over stays her visa. This mass deportation campaign would target the tens of millions of Latin American families and workers that are currently in the US without papers. The recent Trump motivated attack in Boston on a homeless man, thought by the perpetrators to be an immigrant, is an indication that the “passion” that he inspires in the Brown Shirt contingent of his constituency is as unpredictable as it is potentially vicious.
The fact that Trump doesn’t appear to have any real fidelity to specific policies is another clue. He has flipped on everything from abortion to single-payer health care and doesn’t even pretend to have any coherent approach to governing beyond loosely identifying himself as a conservative. Fascists are not ideologues. They don’t hawk position papers or political philosophies. They are the supreme rulers of political cults. And like all cults the supreme leader is sustained by his loyal followers, who refuse to question his authority and turn on anyone who dares to criticize him.
Up to now, to the extent that party leaders, commentators, and presidential candidates for the nomination have said anything in opposition to Trump’s plan, it has been that Trump’s dream of mass deportations and walls are “unpractical” and would cost too much. But the most important question for Republicans is no longer whether Trump is willing to support the party nominee if it’s not him. Now the question is- are Republicans willing to support Trump if he is the nominee? Those that are may go down in US history as the “good Americans” that allowed a charlatan to take over their party and usher in an era of political repression that made the post-World War I racial pogroms and Palmer Raids look like mild by comparison.
But if Trump’s promise of mass expulsions and his ugly demagoguery isn’t enough to land him squarely within the tradition of 20th century fascism, then his misogyny and contempt for women surely does. The Megan Kelly incident is just the latest in a long history of epithets, threats and sexual intimation against females. And then there’s his typically fascist economic scapegoating- just substitute Chinese for the Jews- and his imperial threats to “take over” oil fields in the mid-east. This is not the phony so called “liberal” fascism invented by the right. This is the real deal, and its popularity is growing among GOP voters right now. Republicans are standing on the edge of the abyss. Will they jump?