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Monday, November 7, 2016

America on the brink


Image result for trump fascist

Andrew Sullivan is no fan of Hillary Clinton. He expresses his strong dislike of her in this article, but his focus is on what a Trump presidency might mean for the future of the nation. He says we are facing the abyss. He hesitates to use the word, but on several occasions in the article, he suggests that Trump has the character and attitudes of a fascist.

He writes:

The most frustrating aspect of the last 12 months has been the notion that we have been in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle over policy.

It has been clear for months now, it seems to me, that this is a delusion.

A far more accurate account of the past year is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington.

I made this argument at length in April, when Donald Trump was on the brink of securing the nomination. Everything that has happened since has only made my fears more pressing.

I find myself wondering if I have lost my marbles.

It seems far too melodramatic. I am an emotional character — I feared that Obama might have thrown the election away in the first debate in 2012 — and there are times in discussions with friends when the catastrophic scenarios we’ve been airing seem like something out of a dystopian mini-series designed for paranoids.

Please, therefore, discount the following as the product of an excitable outlier if you see fit. I sure hope you’re right. But as it seems more evident by the day that Donald Trump could very well become the next president of the United States, it is worth simply reiterating the evidence in front of our nose that this republic is in serious danger.

This is what we now know.

Donald Trump is the first candidate for president who seems to have little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy and presents himself as a future strongman.

This begins with his character — if that word could possibly be ascribed to his disturbed, unstable, and uncontrollable psyche.

He has revealed himself incapable of treating other people as anything but instruments to his will.

He seems to have no close friends, because he can tolerate no equals.

He never appears to laugh, because that would cede a recognition to another’s fleeting power over him.

He treats his wives and his children as mere extensions of his power, and those who have resisted the patriarch have been exiled, humiliated, or bought off.

His relationship to men — from his school days to the primary campaign — is rooted entirely in dominance and mastery, through bullying, intimidation, and, if necessary, humiliation.

His relationship to women is entirely a function of his relationship to men: Women are solely a means to demonstrate his superiority in the alpha-male struggle. Women are to be pursued, captured, used, assaulted, or merely displayed to other men as an indication of his superiority.

His response to any difficult relationship is to end it, usually by firing or humiliating or ruining someone.

 His core, motivating idea is the punishment or mockery of the weak and reverence for the strong.
He cannot apologize or accept responsibility for failure.

He has long treated the truth as entirely instrumental to his momentary personal interests.

Setbacks of any kind can only be assuaged by vindictive, manic revenge.

He has no concept of a non-zero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides.

A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace. (This is one reason why he cannot understand the entire idea of free trade or, indeed, NATO, or the separation of powers.)

In any conflict, he cannot ever back down; he must continue to up the ante until the danger to everyone around him is so great as to demand their surrender.

From his feckless business deals and billion-dollar debts to his utter indifference to the damage he has done to those institutions unfortunate enough to engage him, he has shown no concern for the interests of other human beings.

Just ask the countless people he has casually fired, or the political party he has effectively destroyed.

He has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible — because such norms were designed precisely to guard against the kind of tyrannical impulses and pathological narcissism he personifies.

Anyone paying attention knew this before he conquered the Republican Party. Look at what has happened since then.

He sees the judicial system as entirely subordinate to his political and personal interests, and impugned a federal judge for his ethnicity.

He has accused the Justice Department and FBI of a criminal conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton.

He has refused to accept in advance the results of any election in which he loses.

He has openly argued for government persecution of newspapers that oppose him — pledging to open up antitrust prosecution against the Washington Post, for example.

He is the first candidate in American history to subject the press pool to mob hatred — “disgusting, disgusting people” — and anti-Semitic poison from his foulest supporters.

He is the first candidate in American history to pledge to imprison his election opponent if he wins power.

He has mused about using nuclear weapons in regional wars.

He has celebrated police powers that openly deploy racial profiling.

His favorite foreign leader is a man who murders journalists, commits war crimes, uses xenophobia and warfare to cement his political standing, and believes in the dismemberment of both NATO and the European Union.

Nor has he rejected any of his most odious promises during the primary — from torturing prisoners “even if it doesn’t work” to murdering the innocent family members of terror suspects to rounding up several million noncitizens to declaring war on an entire religion, proposing to create a database to monitor its adherents and bar most from entering the country.

We are told we cannot use the term fascist to describe this. I’m at a loss to find a more accurate alternative.


America at the abyss, and the rest of the world is watching.