The title is taken from some of the signs held up at various Trump campaign rallies. There has recently been outbreaks of violence at these rallies between protesters and Trump supporters. Of course, such violence plays right into Trump’s strategy of appearing to be the injured party, or the victim. Even thought Trump has openly espoused the use of violence against those protesting his neo-fascist proclamations, and has often applauded those of his adherents for committing violent acts. This includes his own campaign manager who threw a female reporter to the ground. It also includes Trump’s threat of instigating riots throughout the U.S. should the GOP have the temerity of denying him the Republican presidential nomination. But it also begs the question of why there are apparently millions of Americans that are so in sync with with his fascist agenda and so eager for violent retribution against those that are opposed. I know that I have written about this several times before, but one has to go back to the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1920s to understand the mechanics of the groundswell for a fascist candidate in 21st century America.
Benito Mussolini began the fascist imperative in Italy before 1920 through a nativist, xenophobic campaign against all foreigners. Originally a socialist, he soon rejected socialism and founded the first fascist party in Europe. The attainment of power became an all-consuming quest as Mussolini employed organized thugs known as the “black shirts” to quell and silence all those in opposition to his ambitions. He was appointed Prime Minister of Italy in 1923, through what constituted the democratic process, but soon destroyed all vestiges of democracy, and declared himself dictator for life. He became an ally of Hitler, and it wasn’t until near the end of WWII that he was removed from office and executed by Italian partisans. It should be noted, however, that Mussolini’s popularity among Italians remained high until Italy’s fortunes began to plummet as WWII dragged on, and the Axis powers began losing their conquests.
In Germany, a down-and-out former WWI corporeal named Adolph Hitler became a keen observer of Mussolini’s exploits in Italy. He was desperate to obtain a government job as a means of supporting himself. Finally a German bureaucrat hired Hitler to sit in on a small troublesome outfit known as the German Workers Party and report back if this group constituted any kind of threat to the government. When Hitler came to the first meeting there were maybe 20 people in attendance, and their speeches were dull as dishwater. Hitler then finally spoke at this gathering, with fiery, demagogic rhetoric, as he blamed the Allied powers and a small minority of Jews for all of Germany’s many problems. More and more people began listening to Hitler’s thunderous demagoguery as the crowds at his speeches quickly swelled. Along the way, Hitler found an ancient tribal symbol, and fashioned it in what became known as the swastika, or a new symbol embroidered into flags and armbands for his growing movement. A truly brilliant stroke for any budding demagogue. He changed the name of his party to the German National Socialist, or Nazi party. Like Mussolini, he organized his own band of goon squads known as the “brown shirts” that roamed through German cities and beat-up or otherwise terrorized any and all opposition. And like Mussolini, he rose to become Chancellor largely through the democratic process, but then destroyed all remnants of democracy once in office. The rest as they say, is history.
So, the interesting question is not the reason for Trump’s ascendency on the national scene, but, rather, why people in such large numbers are drawn to this fascist imperative. After all, Trump merely saw an opening and exploited it like Hitler and Mussolini before him. But why is such a large chunk of the so-called Republican base buying his snake-oil, or drinking his Kool-aid, or any other metaphor one can use. One reason, as I previously pointed out, is the hate-based vitriol that’s been leeched into the American mainstream over the past 25-30 years by talk radio stars such as Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. The poisonous seeds that have been planted into the American psyche by these xenophobic, nativist, hate-preaching polluters are finally taking root and are beginning to grow. Their efforts have not been in vain.
Another primary reason is that a good portion of the American populace really isn’t paying much attention to the political scene. Trump is a TV celebrity businessman with a lot of name recognition who gets tons of free publicity. People tend to gravitate toward a known brand such as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The other candidates are lesser known and too many people are too focused on the next American Idol, and can’t be bothered by researching out what the other candidates stand for. After all, what’s more important- keeping up with the Kardashians, or who the next president will be. The irony is that Americans were generally better informed about the political scene in the 19th and early 20th centuries when all they had were newspapers, than they are today when a wealth of information is right at their finger tips through Google. Thus, a lying huckster like Trump who speaks out of both sides of his mouth, can make all kinds outrageous claims and falsehoods to an uninformed electorate and get away with it. Until the day will come, as it did in Italy and Germany, when it will be too late to do anything about it, without fear of horrific retribution.
Well, I promised myself I wouldn’t write about Trump again; but when I saw that sign about making America hate again, I guess it got political my juices flowing.