The Fatherland (PT) – If Adolf Hitler had promised to murder the innocent family members of the opposition, intentionally kill civilians to seize control of natural resources, stifle the free press, register religious minorities, seal the border, torture people, and “much worse” he never would have rose to power. In the United States, a candidate is rising to power while making these exact promises. Like Hitler, he has wrapped these promises in a blanket of bigotry and xenophobia. Trump’s blanket of xenophobia is so thick the Ku Klux Klan has comfortably cuddled up beside him. Commentators love to compare their opposition to Hitler, the difference is that in this case the shoe or armband fits. Two of the most prominent fascists were Hitler and Mussolini. Trump retweeted a quote from Mussolini, and is reported to have kept a copy of My New Order by his bed. That book was written by Adolf Hitler.
Americans, much like Germans of the time, are so desperate for change they will gladly blind themselves to the threat posed by a man who has displayed nothing but hatred for them and an authoritarian posture that runs counter to everything that actually “made America great”. Trump’s motive for seeking the office may be the most telling. Americans are used to self-serving politicians. They rightly assume politicians are self-serving. Most, if not all, are. Trump’s motivations are different than most, though. He’s already rich and powerful. He’s not seeking the office for the typical materialistic reasons. He’s certainly not an ideologue. He changes his stated opinions and beliefs more often than… well … anything. He is running to satisfy his own ego and nothing more. He does not care about you, he does not care about the little person, and he certainly does not care about this country. This is a man who attempted to use the power of government to force an elderly woman to give up her property while only receiving a quarter of what it was worth. Why did he do this? To build a parking lot for limousines. You, your family, and the “America” he wants to make great again are nothing but a commodity for him to exploit. He will drive you into the ground and sell you out as fast as his string of failed businesses.
Trump is only out to satisfy his own ego and he has an arrogance that can only be found in worst of history’s national villains. He blasts Apple and Ford for their overseas operations, but does the same thing himself because clearly the law shouldn’t apply to him. He’s not a friend to the common man. He’s your overseer. Think about what Trump has promised the American people. Some of these things sound great in soundbyte format, but they are morally reprehensible and will take our nation down a road a developed nation hasn’t headed down in almost 100 years.
Really take a look at the list. A silent media, death to anyone who resists his goons, registries, war for natural resources, the deliberate targeting of innocents, and a sealed border. He is effectively promising to institute a fascist government. Fascism is a term that is thrown around as an insult. Dr. Lawrence Britt published an article identifying the 14 common characteristics of fascist governments. The article was published a decade ago, far from today’s election climate. It wasn’t written as a critique of Trump. Comparing that list with Trump’s campaign promises makes one wonder how long it will be before the Gestapo is at the door.
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
From Trump’s slogan of “Make American great again” to publicity stunts using veterans as props, this is his entire campaign’s symbolism. Trump’s biggest PR stunt was raising six million dollars for veterans’ groups. Of course, they haven’t gotten the promised money. His xenophobia is apparent, and is covered in another heading below.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
He’s promised to engage in war crimes such as waterboarding and the murder of innocent family members of people he defines as terrorists. First, define terrorist. Second, the deliberate targeting of innocent civilian noncombatants is a war crime. Any military officer who implements this order can and should be put to death. Remember the entire world, including the United States, is part of the battlefield and the term “terrorist” is defined so loosely that you are probably considered one. You’re signing your family’s death warrant. This won’t stop with Muslims anymore than it stopped with the Jews in Germany.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
From his promise to unconstitutionally legislate a state level law through an executive order to mandate the death penalty for those who kill cops, to his constant promises to bomb civilian targets, militarism has a home in the Trump campaign. He has stated he wants to bomb the oil fields under Islamic State control. The oil workers who you have more in common with than you do with a trust fund baby billionaire are just collateral damage. Who cares about blue collar workers? Their families will. Just like the rest of the US “Bomb them into submission” strategy, this will only increase support for the Islamic State. Let’s also not forget that these natural resources don’t belong to the Islamic State. They belong to the people subjugated by them. So the ISIS victims everybody pretends to care about simply get to trade one occupying force for another. The theft of natural resources is a cause of terrorism. While bombing the bad guys into submission sounds great, counter-terrorism and foreign relations are complicated subjects that cannot be distilled into a 3 second soundbyte.
5. Rampant sexism
Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
From mocking the appearance of female opponents to inferring a moderator was having her time of the month, Trump is sexism embodied. There are dozens of articles cataloging the never-ending stream of sexist remarks coming from this gentleman. Although he likes to use veterans as props for his campaign, he apparently only cares about the male veterans. Trump tweeted, “26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Perhaps that women shouldn’t be raped? Maybe they thought that.
6. A controlled mass media
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
The candidate wants to loosen libel laws so he can sue media outlets that criticize him. He has constantly attacked the media. Any candidate whose ego is so fragile he can’t withstand the criticism of the media will not be able to handle international relations. If he’s going to cry like a petulant child because somebody made fun of him, how can possibly handle the stresses of war time leadership?
7. Obsession with national security
Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
From suggesting registration of Muslims to wanting the execution of whistleblower Edward Snowden, Trump is flying the fascist banner. While most of the informed world realizes the Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance programs are threats to global freedom and privacy, Trump wants to maintain them. Why? Because he does not care about freedom or making America great again. He cares about maintaining control and taking power for himself.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
While Trump doesn’t like asking for forgiveness, he plays on the masses’ beliefs and ties himself to the Christian ideology at every opportunity. He said, “I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.” His favorite method of rallying Americans is to attack Muslims. He gains cheers when he suggests registering them like dogs. Don’t worry though, it will stop with the Jews, I mean Muslims. Somebody will speak out when his regime decides it’s your turn, if there’s anyone left.
9. Power of corporations protected
Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
Trump is unique in this sense because he is the personification of the corporate structure that normally needs the protection of the fascist government. People see corporate influence as one of the major problems with the United States. It is. Trump has admitted to buying politicians. He’s simply cutting out the middle man. He’ll be able to directly use your tax dollars to exert power over you instead of paying off politicians to use your tax dollars to exert power over you.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
Trump might say he has support from within unions, but his own unionized employees tell a very different story. Trump has said “Teenage mothers get public assistance unless they jump through some pretty small hoops. Making them live in group homes makes sense.” He’s also implied poor people shouldn’t golf and should stay on the basketball courts. In all fairness, he has been endorsed by at least one union: the cops.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
This is one of the few points that requires Trump to actually take the office of High Chancellor to demonstrate his intentions, but he has stated he wants to slash education funding. Conservative intellectuals have repeatedly blasted Trump. Trump is a product of elite private schools who is pandering to the “poorly educated” voter he said he loves.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
Trump wants a mandatory death sentence for cop killers, and promised to use an illegal executive order to obtain it. Lethal injection is “too comfortable” and he wants to increase the “strength and power” of law enforcement. He wants to continue the failed war on drugs that has created the mass incarceration epidemic, even though in 1990 he said legalization was the only option.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
Trump is attempting to make the transition from economic elite to power elite. He has admitted to exchanging cash for political favors. While the cronyism and corruption is a preexisting condition, Trump certainly has no intention of ending it.
14. Fraudulent elections
Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
We’ll have to wait to see if he rigs the elections once he has the power, but with evidence of 13 out of 14 points is it really worth the risk?
The American people have to understand that fascism isn’t extinct. It occurs whenever the people of a nation become so disillusioned they are willing to follow a leader who promises water into the desert. Once they are too far to turn back, they are forced to drink sand at the point of a gun. While almost every candidate running for President is utterly worthless, Trump is the right combination of spoiled elitism, egomanical desire, and latent violence to bring about fascism. For the Republicans so enamored with him, I beg you to imagine your response if Hilary Clinton proposed these same platforms. Visions of FEMA camps would dance in your head. Donald Trump is the single greatest threat to American freedom in existence today. He is not anti-establishment. He is a child of the establishment who was taught the law didn’t apply to him, avoided the draft, and attempted to steal property from a little old lady. I can promise that under Trump you will see your personal liberty recede, the police state advance, and you will find yourself swearing allegiance to a flag that represents nothing even remotely similar to what you believe. Tyranny will choke a smile to every face and you will have lost everything you hope to hand to your children.