When one watches Trump surging toward ultimate power, one is reminded of the train disaster metaphor. A man stands atop a high hill overlooking a serene valley miles below. Down in the valley are train tracks and as the man stands on the valley peak, he views a train barreling down tracks at high speed and about to go around a steep curve. But the man suddenly notices that just around the bend, parts of the train tracks are missing, perhaps washed away in a heavy storm the night before. The engineer is completely ignorant of the missing tracks as he plows full steam ahead, about to around the bend. The man views the impending disaster with alarm, knowing that it will probably kill and maim hundreds of passengers, but he is helpless to prevent the subsequent derailment. He is just too far away and its impossible for him to alert the engineer in time. A perfect metaphor, I believe, for Trump’s slow-motion derailment of the U.S. political scene leading up to the presidential election in November, 2016.
To better understand Trump’s snowballing popularity among the masses, it’s worthwhile to view another figure who used bellicosity, belligerence and bullying to also acquire total power in the early part of the 20th century. Like Trump, he would never back down from a fight, political or otherwise. He had a vast ego, and would strut around like a pompous peacock. His name was Benito Mussolini, and he rose from humble beginnings to become the fascist, tyrannical dictator of Italy in 1922. He, in fact, was the originator of fascism, which stressed extreme nationalism to the detriment of minorities, as well as adventurist militarism. Adolf Hitler merely copied Mussolini’s fascist style when he rose to power in Germany in 1933. Like Mussolini, Hitler became head of state largely through a democratic process, but once in power, systematically destroyed all vestiges of democracy, and became absolute dictator. Mussolini adored being called “Il Duce” which, translated into German, means “Der Fuehrer.”
Il Duce rose to power by promising to make Italy great again. (Sound familiar?) He had grandiose dreams of restoring the old Roman Empire, which at its zenith, stretched from almost all of Europe to North Africa. As such, he joined Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan during WWII in a fascist axis of evil. The problem was, however, that Italy’s military capabilities were rather puny in comparison to those of Nazi or Japanese forces. Il Duce would eventually lose almost all military battles that Italy engaged in. He did invade Ethiopia in North Africa, (which had virtually no military) and captured it for awhile, but eventually his armies were driven from that country as well. Finally, the Allies drove Mussolini out of Rome in 1942, and he escaped to rule over Northern Italy which was still under Nazi domination. As the Nazi’s were being defeated, Italian partisans caught up with Il Duce and had him killed. His body was hung upside down in the public square, for all to see. A rather inglorious end to the belligerent bully that strutted about like a self-indulgent peacock.
Now, in 2015 America, the rancid odor of fascism is once again percolating throughout the land. With his face set in a perpetual, petulant scowl, Donald Trump has set out to seek ultimate power by playing on the the fears and hatreds of the American populace. In other words, the old fashioned way- through the fascist imperative. He started out by denigrating John McCain’s prisoner of war experience where McCain was held captive by North Viet-Nam under the most hellish of conditions for 6 long years. Republican voters ate it up. He then used the most crude and vile language in denigrating a female TV news host, (on Fox News, no less) and his popularity grew even stronger. Next up was the demonization of 11.5 million undocumented Hispanics living in this country, (about 3.5% of the U.S. population), and the delusional and demented promise to round them all up and ship them back to Mexico. At the same time, Trump would build a nearly 2000 mile long wall that would cost a gazillion dollars, in order to keep illegals from coming back. But he would get Mexico, a country that’s nearly broke, to pay for it all. Nevertheless, his foray into this parallel universe of total delusion only increased Trump’s poll standings.
The recent terrorist barbaric attacks, first in Paris, and then in California, played right into Trump’s demagoguery by further spreading fear and hatred in the U.S of all things Islamic. Trump’s proposal to prohibit any of the 1.2 billion Muslims that live on this planet from entering the U.S. goes beyond delusional derangement. It outright damages U.S. interests in friendly Moslem countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, Indonesia, Singapore, and others. Yet with his latest exercise in fear-mongering, Trump’s poll numbers continue to soar.
I believe that the saddest thing occurring in the U.S. these days is not Trump’s increasing popularity. He just saw an opportunity and plunged right in. I think the saddest thing is that so many millions of Americans are allowing themselves to be beguiled by this snake oil salesman who is peddling outright fear and hatred. Can anyone possibly think that once gaining entry into the Oval Office, Trump would have any respect for the Constitution, or the machinations of Congress or the courts. Trump would rule in a manner similar to the way Il Duce ruled over Italy, and it’s tough if anyone didn’t agree to that.
In the end, it’s the people that do it to themselves. I’m reminded of that famous line from the Pogo comic strip in the 1970s- “We have met the enemy and he is us.”