With every ‘win,’ President Trump has taken America closer to open fascism. When I predicted Trump would be elected, I said he would return again and again to the mob (aka his “base”) during his presidency. The same forces that enabled him to become president would be used to take America into tyranny.
For the past two years, gelatinous Democrats and mealy-mouthed journalists have prattled on about how America needed to listen to Trump supporters, how people appalled by Trump and his tactics needed to try to understand where his base was coming from in their anger and victimhood.
Now, as has been reported in the Washington Post, “the GOP has adopted a partywide message of depicting opposition to Kavanaugh as an ‘angry mob.’” So Trump and his henchmen on Fox and in Congress have begun labeling Democrats a mob! That’s more than irritatingly ironic; it’s deliciously diabolical.
As the extremist Grover Norquist, founder of the innocuous-sounding, Americans for Tax Reform, said after the Kavanaugh confirmation, “We have been winning little victories with regulation. This is the big win. We are cutting down the forest, not the trees.
This is what slouching toward tyranny looks like. And since we have not experienced fascism in the United States before, people in the political and punditry class don’t know how to deal with it.
To see and listen to people as individuals does not preclude seeing them as a mob when they surrender their autonomy and become part of an irrational pack.
The Democrats are setting themselves up for despair if they believe the November election is going to right the ship of state. America’s vaunted institutions cannot save us now, just as Congress could not save us from the likes of Kavanaugh.
By the time a people elect a vicious authoritarian, it’s probably too late for them to stop the slide toward tyranny from within their nation.
Journalism’s knee-jerk attitude of ‘reporting both sides equally’ feeds fascism after an unseen line has been crossed because the conventions of journalism in a democracy prevents reporters them from seeing and naming mob rule.
Indeed, the narrative of ‘polarization’ is fueling division, because it views the crisis in terms of “one side denying the legitimacy of the other.” Denial of the erosion of respect and comity that gave rise to an “exclusionary populist demagogue” (itself a euphemism for a would-be tyrant) continues to rule.
In a deeper sense, the ‘both sides’ view is correct however. The rot that led to mob rule by right-wing extremists (even as they decry and deride a vast left-wing conspiracy against them, like the now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh did during the Senate hearings) infects and affects everyone in the nation.
Therefore Democrats would do well to feel the humility of their complicity, not to ‘listen empathetically to other side’ (which only views such an attitude as weakness), but to meet the darkness without seeing themselves as above or exempt from it.
That’s how decent people who haven’t surrendered to mob mentality (and most Democrats have not) can deal with mob rule and stop the slide into fascism.
Does this “offer a credible path up out of the abyss,” as one commentator put it? Yes, decent, feeling people can take America’s slide into fascism out of the national context and hold it in the rightful context—humanity as a whole.
Indeed, the issue isn’t America at all, but as the UN climate report that just came out attests, the fate of the earth and humanity. Fascism in one nation, even a nation as powerful as the United States, is secondary.
Besides, a worldwide fascism is creeping over the globe, spreading like the melting glaciers and collapsing Arctic ice sheets. The crisis appears to be unfolding in slow motion, but it is fast enough to observe in real time.
The scale feels overwhelming because we are so habituated to thinking in terms of time, particularities, and scale, rather than as simply human beings observing the whole of humanity.
As one commentator put it, “with Vladimir Putin targeting opponents in the United Kingdom, Saudis possibly taking out journalists in the heart of Istanbul or the Chinese detaining the head of Interpol, the entire Westphalian order seems to be crumbling.”
Not ‘seems to be’ crumbling; it is crumbling. The Westphalian/international order was not a global order however.
The worldwide slide into fascism can be halted, and a true human civilization emerge, by thinking holistically in our hearts, and creating and building a global order beyond the divides of tribalism’s death throes.