Monday, June 6, 2016

Trump: Fascist Moderate or Moderate Fascist, Part 2

A simple Google search of  the words "Trump" and "fascist" yields 6,900,000 results. I haven't heard an adjective applied to a person's name that frequently since Dan Aykroyd spent the entire film Dragnet protecting "the virgin Connie Swails."

To call Trump a fascist implies he has a coherent political philosophy. It's not clear that Trump has any philosophy other than a belief that he should selfishly satisfy his ego, bask in puffery, and frequently issue 140 character insults. These qualities indicate he is a truculent demagogue, but while nearly every fascist leader is a truculent demagogue not all truculent demagogues are fascists.

The most obvious illustration of Trump's lack of philosophical integrity is his complete refusal to follow Machiavelli's advice. In The Prince, Machiavelli urges leaders to avoid virtue when necessary but always to appear to have virtues:

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.

Trump seemingly doesn't care if anyone views him as faithful or upright or merciful. In fact, he appears to relish being the most vile politician to seek the Presidency since George Wallace sought the office to continue legal racial segregation in the South.

Contending that Trump is not a fascist does not mean one should doubt he would be a dangerous President. His truculence indicates he will brook no challenge to his efforts to enact whatever ill-considered whim strikes his fancy. Further, no one should doubt that a President Trump would use the power of his office to curtail civil liberties. Chris Christie, his first major endorser, has not, to the best of my knowledge, encountered a civil liberty he did not want to quash. Trump's entire campaign seems predicated on similar views. Although that fact makes him a threat, his distaste for civil liberties means a Trump administration would differ from the Obama and George W. Bush administrations in degree not in kind.

Quite frankly, calling Trump a fascist lends his campaign gravitas it doesn't merit. Trump is a fascist in the same way goose-stepping professional wrestler Baron von Raschke was a Nazi Now that I think about it, Trump has other things in common with von Raschke.  Both are brilliant entertainers. Both are bombastic. When questioned both conclude "Dat is all da people need to know." Both combine weird facial expressions with bizarre gesticulations.

Baron von Raschke illustrating his Claw finishing move

Donald Trump illustrating that he's Donald Trump

Von Raschke and Trump share one other similarity: both are equally qualified to be President. That fact alone, not assertions that he holds a dangerous political philosophy, should dissuade everyone from voting for Trump.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trump: Fascist Moderate or Moderate Fascist, Part 1

Donald Trump, according to Dakota Free Press posts and comments, harbors fascist tendencies. Meanwhile, Troy Jones has opined in a Dakota War College comment that Trump is the most moderate Republican candidate since Wendell Wilkie. Both of these claims cannot be true. Let's tackle Trump's alleged moderation first. I'll try to deal with the alleged fascism in an another post

As a nominee Trump is heir to a tradition that boasts great Presidents including Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan. Trump, therefore, should have moderate positions or principles that fit in that tradition.

In his first inaugural, Lincoln reminded Americans to be governed by "the better angels of our nature," arguably the greatest urging toward moderation in any recorded political speech. Trump, on the other hand, gives a segment of America license to vent their anger although he doesn't seem to add the Christian injunction "in your anger sin not." In fact, Trump's entire campaign seems predicated on the rather immoderate principle to submit to one's most angry "lesser imps and demons" if not our personal version of the angry "great Satan hisself" (My apologies to the Coen brothers for taking lines from O Brother Where Art Thou? out of context.)

Theodore Roosevelt and Trump share a New York brashness. Trump has certainly predicated his campaign on the premise that "we stand at Armageddon." Further, he promises to use a "big stick" to force Mexico to pay for a wall across the United States's southern border. Unlike Roosevelt, Trump has never promised to "battle for the Lord" at Armageddon. He seems more likely to battle only for Trump. More importantly, no one has recorded an incidence of Trump speaking his "big stick" threats softly.

Dwight Eisenhower organized the logistics behind the United States's World War II victory. As President he was the guiding force behind the nation's interstate highway system. Trump can claim Trump University, Trump Steaks, and several bankruptcies.

Finally, Ronald Reagan claimed that the 11th commandment is "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Trump has yet to find a Republican of whom he will not speak ill.

In short, Trump's rhetoric is far from moderate. Further, the only policy he has consistently enunciated involves expanding the federal government's power to allow for the deportation of 11 million undocumented residents, hardly an action borne from a moderate principle.