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The Reason You Suck, Donald

Trump must be stopped.

Several months ago, Trump was a joke whom I didn’t take at all seriously and dismissed out of hand. Several weeks ago—shortly before the first caucuses/primaries—I considered Trump to be a mixed bag; sure there were lots of things about Trump I disliked, but I thought he may yet do some good or, rather, the mass political uprising that Trump had aroused may do some good. Even then though I thought he was only capable of doing some good because I lazily assumed that he would never win—he would either get bored and leave before too long or else people would not vote for him. That did not happen and it is looking increasingly likely it never will.  I never for a moment thought Trump had a chance at gaining the Republican nomination. Now, things are different.

Trump is no longer a joke, he is a threat. He is a threat worse than “the Establishment” and as bad as the threat posed by Hillary Clinton, though for slightly different reasons.

To reiterate, I believe Trump is a fascist. No, I don’t think Trump is Hitler; Trump is more of a Mussolini character. Why I believe this is explained a bit further down, but the point of this article is that Trump must be stopped and soon. Whereas before I thought that Trump could not possibly win but instead his supporters would live on and elect in some future election another would-be fascist, now the possibility of Trump winning cannot be dismissed. We cannot let this happen.

It is now not only possible Trump will win the Republican nomination, it is likely. As Lawrence of Arabia might say, nothing is written. It is still possible that Trump will not gain the nomination, but the sober half of the electorate is going to have to rally around a single candidate of sanity and quickly.

Trump nearly won Iowa, won convincingly in New Hampshire and South Carolina with about a third of the vote in each state, and Trump has steamrolled his opposition in Nevada, winning nearly half the vote.

Nevada’s result is particularly ominous. Either Trump gained a lot of support from people whose first choices have dropped out of the race or those people stayed home on voting day and Trump’s supporters (though unchanged in number) wielded a greater heft in the smaller pool of voters–though that pool was still much larger than it was in 2012.

Either scenario does not bode well for those who oppose Trump. What can be said for sure is that the voter turnout in Nevada this year was far higher than it was in 2012—127% higher as a matter of fact. Mitt Romney won just over 50% of the Nevada vote in 2012 with 22,646 votes. Trump won 45% of the Nevada vote with 34,531 votes.

Although this could merely mean more Republicans see a point in voting this time around (whereas in 2012 Mitt Romney seemed the shoe-in), this could also mean that a lot of Trump’s support is coming from people who have not voted before or who don’t normally vote. Considering how few people vote in America in the general election and in party primaries in particular, if Trump can rely on a phalanx of new voters turning up to vote for him…I think Trump’s victory is already assured.

Even more worrying is the incredibly broad base of support Trump enjoys. Educated and uneducated, male and female, black, white, Hispanic, old and young—Trump either does well or very well among all these diverse groups. In short, his appeal is universal or nearly so, not just very strong from one particular group.

This is particularly worrying not only because it makes his victory in the Republican contest likely, but it could quite possibly deliver Trump the Oval Office itself. While I’ve only just come to accept that Trump will secure the GOP nomination (though I of course hope this can be avoided), the thought that he could actually win the whole contest is something I have never for one moment considered until now. But now things have changed. We can no longer dismiss the possibility that Trump could win the overall election. Though I still think he would be defeated in a general election, I am increasingly less sure that any of my thinking is anything more than wishful.

Donald Trump is a serious threat. He is a serious threat because he has inspired a mass, popular political uprising against “The Establishment” (which is good) based on absolutely nothing (which is bad). Since his meteoric rise in popularity is based on nothing, it may very well be impossible to orchestrate his downfall. After all, how does one attack a man who has as much substance as a mirage in the desert? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

To clarify, the uprising against “The Establishment” is not based on nothing; that has been long overdue and is well-deserved. What is based on nothing is the reason “the Rebels” have chosen Donald Trump as their leader. For the life of me I cannot understand the rationale of the average voter in choosing the Donald as “our guy”. Donald Trump enjoys a broad base of support—what I’m tempted to call “the Rebel Alliance”—yet Donald Trump as best can be determined shares none of the Rebel Alliance’s values, as superbly explained by Ben Shapiro.

In short, Trump is not a conservative, he’s not a Christian (probably; Christianity is a very broad tent, but the serial philanderer, multiple-divorcée and house of gambling profiteer is certainly not an evangelical, born-again Christian who regularly drinks the Blood of Christ), and he’s not “an outsider”.

He is simply a liar who is telling the voters whatever they want to hear in order to gain power–which makes Trump not only a paragon of insincerity but the single most dangerous kind of politician. Hillary Clinton is despised by Republican (and many Democratic) voters for precisely the same reason: she is a a deranged, power-hungry tyrant in the making, willing to say or do anything if it gets her closer to power. She is merely not as skilled a pretender as The Donald, and has a tin ear for normal human dialogue that would make Ayn Rand wince.

So why then is Trump the leader of this Peasant Revolt? I get why the peasants have revolted. The Republican Party leadership and politicians who have consistently demonstrated that they don’t believe what they claim to believe; they certainly don’t believe in the same things the average Republican voter believes. They are also just plain bad politicians and bad party leaders. Moreover, as we libertarians have been saying for a very long time, they are part of a political system where the differences between the two parties seem increasingly cosmetic. They are ensconced in a political culture that is utterly corrupt and they are the reason insurgent candidates like Sanders and Trump have caught fire.

People are sick of the usual witches’ brew offered up by the two main political parties, candidates who are corrupt and patently dishonest or so bland and milquetoast that voters feel no passion for them whatsoever. Sanders’ appeal I understand totally, but Trump?

Think about it. Why the hell does Trump have any credibility? What is he saying? He is no different from the politicians in the dreaded “Establishment” at all. Just like “Establishment” politicians, he is banking completely in vague platitudes and empty sayings, he’s just better at lying and pandering than most politicians. He is surging in popularity because he is able to appeal to the most people while saying the least (in terms of substance). In other words, Trump is a better entertainer and actor than most politicians and is thus better able to pull the wool over the eyes of voters.

Of course, most politicians are disadvantaged by the fact that they actually have some ideas they believe in and would like to see enacted, so their efforts at pandering are often frustrated by their need to balance pandering with what they actually plan to do or what they think can be done (politics is the art of the possible, as it is often said). Trump is entirely freed from any such disadvantages. He would promise to lasso the moon (personally, of course) and bring it down to earth so all the poor could have some Moon Cheese to eat if it would fool Republican voters into voting for Trump. And I have no doubt that about a third of them would be fooled.

At least, that’s what I think, though I will freely admit that I have consistently failed to understand the Trump phenomenon, so perhaps Trump is fooling no one.

Moreover, Trump’s main appeal, aside from the fact that he voices what voters have longed to hear in a very appealing rhetorical fashion (viz. the rhetorical stylings of a not particularly sharp nine year old), is that he is an “outsider” who would “burn down” the dreaded Establishment. But would he really?

Trump admits to “buying” politicians and has a demonstrated history of manipulating the levers of the State to benefit himself—the big, strong guy—by picking on the weak, the little guy. It’s called eminent domain, something which could actually stick if any of Trump’s competitors would ever accuse him of being the bully he is.

Trump is an unrepentant believer in State power to benefit people like him—cronies. On what basis is it believed he would “burn down” this State apparatus that his served him well through the years? On what basis is it believed he is not angling to get himself in power merely so it is his ring that is being kissed? Why do people believe that a multi-billionaire Manhattanite, life-long Democrat, and Mr. Monopoly Man Incarnate (minus the top hat) would do anything to harm the system that has served “his kind” so well through the years?

I find this conviction that Trump will somehow play the role of arsonist especially baffling in the face of overwhelming evidence that Trump holds no firm beliefs at all. Bernie Sanders, Ron Paul, and even someone like Ted Cruz can easily be envisioned as the arsonist so many voters yearn for because they believe what they are saying.

Donald Trump clearly does not; so if he is (God forbid) thrust into the Oval Office, how could we possibly surmise what he would then do? Why would he not perform a complete 180 and become the largest, most blatantly cronyist president we have ever had? He is as likely to do that as “burn it down”. What motive, what incentive does he have to actually follow through on the voters’ wishes to burn the rotten edifice to the ground? Once in power, he doesn’t have to give a fig about what the voters want. We can’t judge him on his speeches, he has no political record to analyze, and we cannot say for certain he holds any beliefs set in stone, aside from a fanatical belief in himself.

The only thing he believes in is himself; we therefore can only assume that he will act as president only to benefit himself and his own interests, not the interests of the people who voted for him.

To the extent Trump believes in anything other than himself, he is an authoritarian-leftist, a collectivist and nationalist. I would not go so far as to call him a national socialist—though wouldn’t I love to—but his words about any topic economic more closely resemble a socialist than they do anything a Founding Father would say, leave alone Bastiat, Hayek, Mises, or Friedman. He does not believe in free trade, never speaks about the free market, nor does he ever speak about the proper role/size/scope of government in regulating the economy. He does not view the United States as an environment in which hundreds of millions of economic experiments can be attempted by individual entrepreneurs. He instead sees the United States as a single corporate venture and if we’re not “winning” against China or Mexico, we’re losing—a mercantilist view that simply will not die from the mortal blow dealt to it by Adam Smith in 1776.

Trump’s political rhetoric is almost pure fascism. He has promised to deport all illegals, provoke trade wars with China, bring back torture and a “helluva lot worse” than that “believe me”, Trump has promised to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, he is willing to start wars explicitly for oil, he is willing to kill the (non-combatant) families of terrorists (he apparently doesn’t understand that it’s because terrorists kill innocents and we don’t is what makes the terrorists evil and is the reason we aren’t; The Donald also apparently doesn’t understand that killing the families would violate the Geneva Convention and the Constitution), he wants mosques under government surveillance, ban all Muslims from entering the country, force Apple to give the FBI a key to all encryption systems, or most worryingly of all, using libel laws to suppress free speech—is not the rhetoric of Locke, JS Mill, or Jefferson. It’s the talk of a man who believes in the unlimited power of the state and, more than that, a man who believes in the unlimited power of a strong leader to wield the power of the state judiciously, as long as that leader is himself.

Trump talks of himself as a very personal ruler—as if everything the government does would personally be done by Trump himself.

Now, any references to a certain mustachioed autocrat from the mid-twentieth century is liable to rob an author of any credibility, but I’d wager that if we were speaking German, we’d probably be calling Trump “der Führer” already. I think however one notch down from that will do nicely. If Mussolini—a man whose economic ideas eerily resemble Trump’s—was “Il Duce” then I think “Il Douchey” shall be Trump’s sobriquet.

Trump has whipped up a hateful, pig-ignorant mob of authoritarians who are (it seems) willing to elect a dictator for a four year stint. As best I can figure, the Constitution, Congress, rule-of-law be-damned; Trump’s going to deport dem immigants and stop those Muslims from coming into the country, he’s going to kick China’s ass, build a wall (and make Mexico pay for it), and start a nuclear war with Russia! Yippee-ki-yay motherfucker!

This is the problem with Trump and why the fact that he even has a sliver of a chance of sitting in the Oval Office should scare any sober minded, liberty-loving individual half-to-death. Even if Trump is not the free-wheeling madman he seems to be in his campaign rallies, the new style of presidential campaigning and the ugly forces he has aroused are deeply unhealthy for the Republic. Even if Trump loses this election, his presence (and his fascist mob) will haunt our politics for years to come.

Sadly however, I don’t think Trump can be stopped from getting the Republican nomination. I think he is going to sweep Super Tuesday and then that’s the ballgame. But that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

-SL

A Preview of Hypocrisy

“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time…These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy.”–Barack Obama

Democracy is an odd thing to cite considering that he is talking about appointing an unelected justice to an unelected court for a lifetime tenure and in so doing depriving the American people the chance to hold a quasi-referendum on who should replace Scalia.

Of course, if Obama is really so concerned with exercising his “constitutional responsibilities” and so torn-up about the possibility of a year long 8-justice SCOTUS, he could just nominate a dyed in the wool conservative who would actually restrain government. That guy (or gal) would be confirmed in a jiffy. If Obama doesn’t do this, then it’s not just the Republicans who are to “blame”. Rest assured, there is plenty of blame on all sides.

 

-SL

Bernie Sanders: A socialist, not a historian

“Now, what the American people understand is that our great country was based on a simple principal, and that principle is fairness.”-Bernie Sanders.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”-Abraham Lincoln.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”–Declaration of Independence

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of LIBERTY to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”-Preamble to the Constitution

Sanders, you lying, socialist, son of a bitch.

-SL

A Prediction for 2016 and a Ramble

Predicting the future is a perilous business full of errors hilarious and tragic. Even this blog has not been immune from prognostications that prove to be erroneous in hindsight.

Nevertheless, I will hazard a guess about the coming election year. The prediction is this: Trump is a serious threat. I know it’s a bit of a cop-out, but the fact is that while it’s easy to see that Trump is indeed a threat, what is not so easy to see how the many factions he threatens will react to Trump. I predict that because Trump appears to be such a dire threat and threatens so many, his candidacy will lead to the greatest upheaval in American electoral politics since the election of FDR to the White House.

In short, I see three distinct possibilities. One is that Trump secures the Republican nomination. The other is that Trump does not secure the nomination but then runs as a 3rd Party Candidate. The final possibility is that Trump loses the first few Republican primary contests and then quickly fades away to political ignominy, leaving us all wondering what the hell was happening for those 6+ months of Trump-Mania. If the latter happens, then I will of course have been proven wrong in my prediction for this coming election season–but I will be so happy about Trump’s demise that I won’t mind being wrong so much. If the former two events transpire, then all bets are off and we could see a fundamental transformation of the American electorate.

 

I’m not sure Trump will get the Republican nomination in the end. It very well may end up he loses Iowa and New Hampshire, never regains momentum and disappears to ignominy (if not obscurity) and we will look back on that 9 month-odd long period of Trump-mania as a period of mass hysteria as inexplicable as the Salem Witch Trials. Indeed, that is in a sense the best of the most likely scenarios I can foresee, since the actual best case scenario (as I outline below) is incredibly unlikely.

However, there is now a very real possibility that Trump can secure the nomination. It remains unlikely, I think, but if he manages to win even a single primary his chances improve tremendously

The prospect of a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders presidency is very troubling indeed, as is the prospect of a Trump presidency. They would each be horrible in their own ways, but which would be worse is difficult to fathom. It’s a bit like asking who you would prefer be president: Stalin or Mao? Clinton and Trump are obvious Caesars in the making; even Sanders has a certain crypto-Caesarism about him, though bizarrely the self-declared socialist is the least threatening of the three. I mean, I can easily see Trump going complete Tin-Pot dictator and declaring himself (in a lavish, gold-plated ceremony no doubt) President For Life. I am also able to envision the amoral and power hungry Hillary Clinton using the massively expanded power of the executive–through even more sinister, underhanded means and probably with more nefarious ends in mind–to substantially subvert the Constitution, if not entirely.

So here’s my real prediction, though I will freely admit this is a very, very long shot, and more wishful thinking than a prediction. My prediction is that if Trump secures the GOP nomination, he will have the substantial backing of about 40% (perhaps even half) of the Republican electorate but the other half will despise Trump. In short, the long overdue split of the Republican party will commence. If he does not secure the nomination–especially if it is widely perceived he was “cheated” out of the nomination–there is a damn good chance he will run 3rd Party. Then, as it becomes clear that Trump has the general election in the bag and can easily defeat Hillary Clinton, a coalition will form around Rand Paul as the alternative candidate–potentially propelling him to the Oval Office.

As Rand has trumpeted from the hilltops to anyone who will listen, he has more cross-party appeal than any other Republican–which is not just a candidate’s spin, it is actual fact.  While many Democrats probably wouldn’t like his stance on guns* or economic issues, Rand’s moderate stance on gay marriage and abortion (federalism, in a word) and his great strengths in matters of civil liberties, criminal justice reform, the war on drugs, wars overseas, and other libertarian(ish) stances will make him palatable enough to enough Democrats that they will vote for him as a means of defeating Trump.

There are a few independent variables in the matter. The lesser concern is the Democrats. Will they abandon Hillary Clinton if it becomes clear that she will lose to Trump? Hopefully Democratic voters will be pragmatic and they will rally around the better (in every sense of the word) candidate, Rand Paul.

It is possible that Hillary Clinton will not be running by the time the general election, either because she was forced to drop out or dropped out of her own volition. Perhaps Clinton will have been indicted, but I am very skeptical that will come to pass due to the teflon coated nature of the ruling class in general and the Clintons in particular. More likely (only slightly) is that her candidacy will have died the death of a thousand cuts and gradually–between her emails and other scandals, her general dishonesty, her general lack of appeal and campaigning skills, and the greater sincerity of Bernie Sanders–her campaign will lose steam and supporters. Even if she remains in the race, it is still entirely possible that her supporters will desert her or not turn up on election day and it will be clear that the fight for the nomination damaged her candidacy beyond repair–leading to a flight of Democrats to the Rand coalition.

The other variable in the election is Sanders. Most likely is that Hillary Clinton vanquishes that dragon before she herself is vanquished. The prospect of Sanders surviving late enough to see Trump secure the nomination or run 3rd Party and precipitate the break-up of the Republican Party cannot be ignored, however. If that happens, it will be impossible to predict how Sanders will react. He might go for broke and go all out for the Democratic Nomination–arguing (not un-persuasively) that the only suitable Democratic response to something so radical as a Trump candidacy will be something equally radical: himself. He might also magnanimously accept an offer to be Hillary’s VP, though if the campaign arms race of nastiness continues to escalate, before too long Sanders may hate Hillary Clinton more than he does the Republicans…which brings me to the most exciting possibility for Sanders: he becomes Rand’s VP on the Alternative Ticket.

Such a move, I think, would be as brilliant as it is logical. It would be, in effect, the same as the British Conservative Party going into coalition with the Liberal Democrats: while they might not see eye to eye on every issue, they both agree that Labour (Trump) must be defeated at all hazards. Rand already appeals to many Democrats; with Bernie as his VP, it would persuade many Democrats not just to like Rand but to actually vote for him. Certainly it would be a ticket with more sincerity and anti-establishment bona fides than anything else liable to be fielded–with the exception of Trump’s ticket (at least in terms of anti-Establishment bona fides). Rand however may also choose fellow Republican Ted Cruz as a means of securing to him as much of the former Republican electorate as he can.

The other independent variable (and the greater problem) is that while half of the Republican Party (the authoritarian half) will be united (around Trump), the other half will be divided–among Hawks and Doves, Establishment vs Grassroots, secular vs evangelical. The Rand Anti-Trump Coalition may be able to gain only a fraction of this second half, depending on how the remaining Republicans react.

It is entirely possible that–if and when the Republican Party fragments–the Establishment will not sign on to the Anti-Trump coalition of Rand and Bernie but will instead field their own candidate. This is especially likely if they finagle Trump out of the nomination and anoint their favorite as the nomination via chicanery, gross or minor. Marco Rubio is most likely to get the nod as the “official” Republican candidate, if they (the Republican Old Guard) abandon their heretofore favorite son, Jeb Bush (and given Jeb’s lackluster campaign, best described as a series of implosions and mis-steps at tremendous expense, this does seem likely, though he may yet be tipped as the VP). Chris Christie may yet also gain the patronage of the Establishment in this scenario of Republican Party fragmentation–dependent on his performance in the primaries.

I think a Rand-Bernie (or even a Rand-Cruz) coalition would be a very powerful force, one sufficiently strong to defeat Trump–especially if Rand’s recently regained momentum holds or even builds, as it well may. However, for this coalition to form, an extraordinary series of events entirely unprecedented in American politics will have to occur–nothing short of the near total disintegration of the two-party system will suffice.

A split in the Republicans has long been overdue. Since the end of the Cold War, really, the coalition of “fusionism” has been crumbling and should have been dissolved outright in 1992 (when Perot cost Bush the First his re-election bid). The libertarian element within the GOP was consistently ignored in favor of the war mongers, the Big Business cronies, and the moral crusaders (the Christian Evangelicals, who, if Mike Huckabee is anything to go by, are the antithesis of libertarian). This made the GOP ripe for a libertarian insurrection (as evidenced by Ron Paul in 2008 and ’12). The latest Republican debate, with at least 6 pro-war, anti-civil liberties candidates on the stage and the conspicuous absence of Rand Paul, is proof that the Republican Party is now nothing more than a party of authoritarians; the primary is merely a contest between the Insider Authoritarians (Rubio, Christie) and the outsider authoritarians (Trump, and possibly also Cruz, since he is an outsider who regularly changes his position on the authoritarian-libertarian scale).

Libertarians should leave the Republican Party entirely–as should anyone who is not a crony capitalist and a Hawk. Certainly, the people who have rallied to Trump’s colors are prepared to leave the GOP; after so many years of being betrayed by the Republicans in power, there is a good reason why so many Republicans are so enthusiastic about the “outsider” Donald Trump.

Sadly, however, all this is barely more than a pipe dream. In all likelihood Rand will do very badly in the coming Iowa Caucus and will be forced to drop out before even getting a chance to perform well in the New Hampshire Primary. Even if he survives to New Hampshire, odds are that Iowa will be his last hurrah. Once Rand is gone, the chances of him coming back onto the American Presidential Stage are about as slim as Barry Goldwater’s chance of doing the same. With Rand gone, the US presidential contest is a very dismal scene indeed. It features nothing but corporatists and war-mongers, authoritarians and moralizing preachers, most of whom are corrupt and dishonest. Indeed, the field is so dismal, it says a lot that the last best hope (in the two major political parties at least) for liberty-minded voters is the socialist, Bernie Sanders.

-SL

*Though, since Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Bernie Sanders’ position on guns have failed to do any significant damage, perhaps the Democratic electorate is more gun-tolerant than previously thought.

Down With Trump

First of all, if you can’t guess, I am very much anti-Trump. While I was for a time willing to tolerate his presence on the political stage and thought that it might even be healthy for our otherwise stale politics, the desired good effects I hoped to see have thus far failed to come to fruition while the many myriad reasons to oppose Trump have continued to mount.

In short, it’s taken me and the thoughtful Conservatives and libertarians in America this long to figure out that simply being anti-establishment does not make one pro-liberty, let alone is it the only quality one needs to be a good president.

Trump is not a conservative, let alone a libertarian. He is a con-man perpetrating fraud on Americans, taking advantage of the disillusionment felt by many Republican voters in a bid for unbridled power. We have no idea what he actually believes, but we do know that for most of his life he was a prolific 1%-er who was not at all afraid (let alone ashamed) to bend political power to his advantage, often (but not always) crushing those smaller, less powerful than he. It is quite possible then that Trump–having been elected as an “outsider” who would up-end everything in politics and, like Jesus clearing the Temple of the moneychangers, toss out the established order–instead would do a swift about-face and become the most corrupt insider, cronyist president we have ever had.

Trump is a danger to our democratic government, a threat to the Republic, and may well be the Caesar that will abrogate what little constraints there are left on the office of the Presidency after 16 years of Bush and Obama.

Trump must be stopped. I am sure the vast majority of Democrats and other leftists in the US would agree with that assessment, as do an ever mounting number of Republicans, conservatives and libertarians, as seen in this epic cover of the National Review’s latest issue, the flagship publication for thoughtful American conservatism.

However, this is a bit like the Syrian Civil War and ISIS. While everyone hates ISIS and agrees they must be done away with, no one can agree on how that is to be done, by whom, and whenever someone in the anti-ISIS crowd tries to do something against ISIS they are stopped by the other anti-ISIS club members because the action would disadvantage them as much as it would ISIS. So it is with Trump. While the Establishment, the thoughtful conservatives, many Republican voters, and the liberty voters are all against Trump, we are not united against Trump and are often as mistrustful of each other as we are of Trump.

The reason Trump is such a menace but a menace impossible to unite against is because Trump is an authoritarian, and the authoritarian impulses he has aroused are unlikely to die down anytime soon. An alarming article in Politico points out that the real reason for Trump’s heretofore mystifying and incredible appeal is because he is an authoritarian and that many Americans have authoritarian views–views which have been aroused and whipped up to a frenzy by Trump and which are unlikely to die down anytime soon.

The author of the Politico article conducted a survey (a decently scientific survey by the sounds of it) and very nearly half (49%) of Republicans surveyed by the author have strong authoritarian leanings, and a significant plurality among independents (39%) do as well. Even among the Democrats there are sufficient authoritarians (17% as discovered in the author’s polling–though I suspect there are more than that, but they are left-authoritarians rather than right-authoritarians) that if Trump does secure the nomination or runs third party, he could rally enough support among Democrats, Republicans, and independents to win the election hands-down–even running as a third party candidate*.

This is very troubling. As the article points out, authoritarians are going to respond very strongly to Trump’s strongman rhetoric. They are alarmed and threatened by the spectres of terrorism in San Bernadino or Paris, illegal immigration, globalization and free trade–the series of imaginary hobgoblins spoken of by HL Mencken which are used to keep the electorate afraid and clamoring to be led to safety. The authoritarians in the electorate are rallying around the loudest voice in the tribe: Trump. Once aroused, it may be impossible to squelch them. And therein lies the problem.

Many conservatives–the Republican Establishment certainly–do not want to see this streak of authoritarianism die out. On the contrary, they want to harness it for themselves; their opposition to Trump is based purely on the fact that he has stolen their thunder and their power. In other words, while actual conservatives and libertarians want to put down Trump and destroy his toxic brew of fascism-lite, many Republicans and other “Establishment” figures as phony as Trump just want to get Trump out of the way so they can use his base of support to gain power–and then abuse power, as they are wont to do.

-SL

*Trump has of course “pledged” to not run 3rd-party if he fails to secure the nomination, but I don’t trust him to honor it, especially if the Republican Party resorts to any kind of chicanery–like the kind used to screw Ron Paul in 2012–to deny Trump the nomination. I mean, considering how much Trump has vacillated on various “policy positions” of his, would it really be any surprise if he reneged on a previous promise?

Tidbit: Obama and Guns–Again

In a recent article The Economist wrote about Obama’s town hall on guns in America, the author (Lexington, an anonymous author whom this blog has criticized in the past, on this very same topic) was dismayed by what he (she?) saw.

“What came across, with dismaying clarity, was that this president’s critics listen to what he says about guns, and do not believe a word of it.”

Why should we? Why should we believe or listen to anything Mr. Obama says about guns? He says “I respect the 2nd Amendment” and yet he clearly doesn’t. Anyone who actually respects the 2nd Amendment never follows that statement with a “but”–the same way anyone who actually believes in free speech never says “I believe in free speech…but…”

That would be like saying “I respect women, but….”–whatever follows, it is just going to undermine your assertion. Someone who actually respects something usually does not feel the need to qualify it or put conditions on it. Of course, nobody is a mind reader. It is impossible to know Mr. Obama’s true sentiments on the 2nd Amendment, but to those of us who do respect the 2nd Amendment, Mr. Obama’s assertion comes across as pandering at best, disingenuous more commonly, and an outright lie occasionally. Put simply, to many–including this author–it is impossible to have “respect” for the 2nd Amendment and yet still believe in gun control beyond the most basic limitations, and anyone who is in favor of more control–by the government, just to be clear–is given a very healthy dose of skepticism.

However, one doesn’t need to be a mind reader–nor a pro-gun fanatic–to disbelieve any and everything Mr. Obama says about guns.

We the people who actually respect the 2nd Amendment don’t believe anything Mr. Obama says because his words do not match his actions.

Mr. Obama lives in a world where good intentions>results; we, by contrast, live in a world where results are what counts. Mr. Obama predicates his actions on words about mass shootings and yet among rational minds it is widely agreed his proposals would have done nothing to prevent any of the mass shootings he referenced.

We do not listen to Mr. Obama because there is a gap between his stated intent and his proposed action–that gap is what causes among us a lack of belief and a lack of trust. We do not trust Obama; we do not take him at his word, because his word, when compared to his action, makes no sense. The only logical conclusions therefore are either that Mr. Obama is incompetent on the matter–in which case discussion with him is going to be fruitless–or he has an ulterior motive he is not sharing with us. Is it any surprise that we believe a man who is otherwise brilliant in many respects could not be incompetent on this issue?

-SL

Donald Trump: American Fascist

Everyone should be alarmed and disturbed by the rise of Donald Trump. And now that some credible pundits and analysts are suggesting that Trump is going to be the Republican nominee and has a good chance at winning the presidency.

Donald Trump is not merely fascist in his beliefs; he is fascist in his tactics. Sadly, many “respectable” candidates espouse ideas which are similar to Trump’s, just toned down and with lip service paid to the Constitution. While weaning Americans off the sweet seductive liquor of authoritarianism is a Sisyphean task (and Americans have, since the beginning, yearned for a king), eliminating fascist tactics in American (or at the least, Republican) politics should not take very long or much effort. If the Republic is to endure, we must rid our politics of a fascist like Donald Trump and ensure that none like him ever rear their ugly heads again. That of course will require “eternal vigilance” but let us for the moment focus on exposing Trump for the fascist he is.

Donald Trump speaks of a government without restraint; he rarely if ever pays lip service to the Constitution and the limits that it places on government power—limits that would specifically prohibit much of what Trump intends to do as President.

He is advocating for a strong national leader. On an unrelated note, do you know what the definition of “fuhrer” is? one of his chief criticisms about his rivals–like Jeb Bush or (oddly) Hillary Clinton is that they are “weak people” and that America needs a strong leader. He is an authoritarian who has an almost unlimited view of the Presidency; he sees the President as the state and not merely one (theoretically) co-equal branch of it along with Congress and the Judiciary. While America has long been cultivating a cult of personality around the President, having an egotistical maniac like Trump in the Oval Office would be a Great Leap Forward towards outright despotism under a supreme leader.

He would bring back torture.

He scapegoats outsiders and ‘other’ groups, making them out to be dire threats to the American Way, whether they be the Enemy Within (immigrants) or the Enemy at the Gates (ISIS/Muslims in general). Like Hitler did with the Jews and the Bolsheviks.

He is a rabid nationalist.

He believes the state should determine who receives (and, presumably, who doesn’t receive) medical care.

He is an authoritarian who has an almost unlimited view of the Presidency; he sees the President as the state and not merely one (theoretically) co-equal branch of it along with Congress and the Judiciary.

“you have to use strong measures or you’re going to see buildings coming down”–That combination of naked fear mongering and unabashed demand for greater government power speaks for itself.

He uses demagoguery. Rarely does he give specifics; instead he speaks in broad generalities in what he will do, and to back up his facts he simply says “I have sources” or “believe me”. His arguments don’t even attempt to use logic or reason; they are based almost exclusively on emotion. And one of his favorite emotions to exploit is fear.

He champions the merger of corporate and state power and sees nothing wrong with bending the power of the state for private gain.

He openly discusses the blatantly unconstitutional idea of “shutting down” mosques and spying on anyone who goes to a mosque, or otherwise placing the inner goings-on of mosques under the surveillance of an American Big Brother–a gross violation of civil liberties and religious freedom. He is also generally in favor of having an extensive surveillance regime placed on American citizens.

He is, as fascists go, a fairly mild one; I’ve never heard him explicitly say he would end democracy if elected nor have I heard him explicitly condemn freedom of speech. While he does argue for mass deportation, he certainly hasn’t advocated for death camps or the elimination of political dissidents. However, that does not diminish the threat that Mr. Trump poses.

In his ideas Trump is fascist-lite; more Mussolini, Franco, or Suharto than Hitler. In his tactics, he is like Hitler. But to bring about his downfall, we must treat him like Joe McCarthy. We must not merely turn against Trump’s ideas but against the idea of having a Trump.

Trump does use some of McCarthy’s patented bullying that plays well on TV, but ideologically Trump is more like Hitler, and he is using many of the same electoral tricks Hitler used. Scapegoating, economic babble, appeals to ignorance and prejudices, and a very crude manner of speaking. Though I am not a German speaker and I have to rely on what German speakers have told me, Hitler spoke a very low, “folksy” kind of German, much like how Trump speaks at a 3rd grade level (in English).

The world rejected fascism not because it disagreed with Hitler’s economic policies or his racist ideas; the world rejected fascism. The ideology itself was rejected as a way of governing (and in the offing, the world also, thankfully, rejected the racial ideology of Hitler).

I waited too long to publish this. I wrote it on November 30. Since then, the meme of “Donald Trump: Fascist” has taken root (thankfully). So while my two cents deposited here is destined to be a little noted addition to the collective condemnation of Trump for what he is (a fascist), I though this was still worth publishing because there is one thing which I have not seen.

I have a plea which needs to be taken up by Americans who treasure our political heritage of Constitutional, representative government, one which respects the rights of its citizens. The idea of Trump gaining the Oval Office is troublesome, but I am not afraid that Trump will achieve this. I am worried, however, that someone very much like Trump will become President.

The American electorate must make clear that Trump himself is not fit to rule, nor is anyone like Trump—regardless of party—fit to rule.

-SL

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