21 May '16    home | previous

Demonization, Trump and Hillary

Donald Trump is not a fascist. Hillary Clinton is not a corrupt shill for corporate greed.

Fascists were opponents of democracy. Hitler, Mussolini – and Franco, if I'm not mistaken – didn't believe in democracy. They believed in authoritarian government, as did those who led Japan against China and then the West. Referring to Donald Trump, Robert Kagan, in the Washington Post has an article titled " This is how fascism comes to America." Trump panders to a lot of sentiments, but there is little or no sentiment in the country for a new constitution that diminishes the powers of elected officials and the courts in favor of a dictator.

Responding to Kagan's article, someone who calls himself Lerobinsontff refers to the fact that Germany and Italy had parliamentary systems. It was Germany's parliament, the Reichstag, that passed the Enabling Act, which gave Chancellor Hitler his powers. Hitler and Mussolini had socialist parties and labor activism to demonize, and a nearby Soviet Union and Communist revolution to scare the public – a specter much more intense than could be conjured up against his Republican Party's major opponent, the Democrats, try though he might. Lerobinsontff comments that a would-be fascist would be stopped by the Congress, that a parliamentary system does not have restraints on a would-be fascist and that parliaments gave a Hitler and Mussolini certain freedoms they would not have had in the US. I don't know about that, but it fits with my notion that Hitler, Mussolini were working with circumstances different enough from what exists in the US to frustrate a drive toward fascism, no matter how demagogic the führer. If we were disappointed in the outcome of a great war (World War I) the way that Hitler and his National Socialists were, or Mussolini and his fascist party were, that would be a different matter. It's an intensity in passion that we are not yet near in our politics – despite a few punches thrown – that would produce a historic political revolution that could be called fascism. In Spain it came with leftists burning churches and killing nuns. In Germany it came with a Soviet Republic, lots of blood in the streets on numerous occasions and courts that were sympathic with a wartime patriotism against traitors, despite their violence. In Italy it came with mobs overrunning estates, socialists and populists threatening landowners with dispossession and factory owners frustrated by worker councils (soviets) and crippling labor strikes.

So what might we expect from a Trump presidency? The straight-talking former Navy Seal, godless agnostic or atheist, former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, has been reported as supporting Trump and saying that "Trump will shake things up." Trump might have congressional support that Obama has lacked and the Hillary would not have. The dangers of a Trump regime according to my prejudices have to do with his anti-abortion attitudes, his Supreme Court nominees, his doing nothing about wealth distribution and the ability of the super-rich to accumulate money much faster than those who have little of it, and foreign policy failures. And an election of Trump would mean I'd have to listen to years of the kind of BS that I'm hearing from him today. I do, however, look for Trump to do something about our infrastructure, and I support him concerning high-speed rail.

As for Hillary. I would like to remind a few Sander's supporters that Danish Social Democrats respect their capitalist society, that Denmark has its own Wall Street, the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, that Denmark has it own financiers, its capitalists and private enterprise bankers quite big and successful. Hillary telling people working for Goldman Sachs that "we are in this together" does not make her a traitor to progressivism. Neither, as far as I know, does her having been on the board at Walmart. And In my opinion we should welcome into the tent of progressivism people like George Soros and Warren Buffett. I don't know whether Hillary tried to be a good influence on the board of trustees at Walmart, but I don't assume that it taints her like traditionalist Christians believed people were corrupted by having associated with the Devil. Hillary Clinton is not perfect. I'm less than delighted by her cheerful association with Henry Kissinger.

I agree with Ruth Marcus, who writes that Hillary Clinton is not a "perfect politician — far from it. Still, she plays within the goal posts of ordinary political behavior." Trump, she writes, operates "far outside any of the usual lines." But, in my opinion, we shouldn't expect that he has the ability to overturn the history and institutions that have made US citizens, with their strengths and weaknesses, what they are.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.