Sunday, March 06, 2016
Donald Trump and the Rise of the Authoritarians
It was depending upon your point of view, either a ghastly gaffe, or a fascist moment.
Donald Trump in Orlando yesterday, leading his followers in a solemn pledge to vote for him in the upcoming Florida primary.
Only to make the gathering look like a Nazi rally.
And play into the hands of people like Bill Maher, who believes that Trump could be a budding American Hitler.
But although there are some disturbing similarities, and as you know I also like to compare Drumpf to a would be Fuhrer...
The more I watch Trump's tawdry performance, the more I see only a narcissistic bully and demagogue who is making it up as he goes along.
A man who can be for torture one day, against it the next .
And for it the day after.
An opportunistic hustler driven by deep feelings of inadequacy, with a compulsive desire to make himself appear bigger than he really is.
As he has always done...
And a man too ignorant to really understand the forces he is unleashing. Or the people some social scientists are calling the authoritarians.
Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things.
And the extreme nature of authoritarians' fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.
But like a good hustler does instinctively know how to play to a crowd or a mob.
That's why it's a benefit rather than a liability for Trump when he says Mexicans are rapists or speaks gleefully of massacring Muslims with pig-blood-tainted bullets: He is sending a signal to his authoritarian supporters that he won't let "political correctness" hold him back from attacking the outgroups they fear.
This, Feldman explained to me, is "classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive."
And all of that should remind us that we too had a leader who tried to use crime and punishment for the same evil purposes...
A depraved leader who couldn't punish people enough, or jail enough Canadians. And used bigotry as a political weapon to great effect, until he was finally brought down by our Canadian values.
But not before doing the social fabric of this country great damage.
For while the good news is that like Stephen Harper, Trump is also leading his Republicans to disaster.
For decades, the Republican Party has been winning over authoritarians by implicitly promising to stand firm against the tide of social change, and to be the party of force and power rather than the party of negotiation and compromise. But now it may be discovering that its strategy has worked too well — and threatens to tear the party apart.
Or to the hell of their own making.
The bad news is that the authoritarians who Trump is inflaming, will still be around long after their clown demagogue has left the stage...
And while Trump goes back to his life as a mere millionaire, shrugging off or denying the damage he has done. Because for him it was always and only about The Donald.
The authoritarians he helped stir up, will remain a threat to democracy in that country, as they remain in this one.
For that will be Trump's legacy, as it is the foul legacy of this monster...
And let's be clear, as our would be Fuhrer used to say.
The Cons may have been defeated. Justin Trudeau may be doing a great job of trying to heal this country's wounds.
But those wounds are deep. There are now hordes of angry, bitter, Con authoritarians out there who if not checked, could one day tear it apart.
And our Canada will not be truly safe, until them and their foul legacy are buried forever...
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