“We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right,’ a Fascist century. Now liberalism is preparing to close the doors of its temples, deserted by the peoples who feel that the agnosticism it professed in the sphere of economics and the indifferentism of which it has given proof in the sphere of politics and morals, would lead the world to ruin in the future as they have done in the past. This explains why all the political experiments of our day are anti-liberal, and it is supremely ridiculous to endeavor on this account to put them outside the pale of history, as though history were a preserve set aside for liberalism and its adepts; as though liberalism were the last word in civilization beyond which no one can go. Never before have the people thirsted for authority, direction, order, as they do now. If each age has its doctrine, then innumerable symptoms indicate that the doctrine of our age is the Fascist. Fascism respects the God of ascetics, saints, and heroes, and it also respects God as conceived by the ingenuous and primitive heart of the people, the God to whom their prayers are raised”—Benito Mussolini (1932)
All right then, let’s not be too hasty in comparing President Donald J. Trump to Mussolini. It is too soon for that as Pope Francis said recently.
But let us look very closely at what Trump’s philosophy is while keeping an eye on Mussolini’s musings in the snippet quoted above and in the president’s diktats via Twitter. And let us pay attention to the political and economic landscape and the disaffection with neo-liberalism that is sweeping the Western World that appears to have ushered in an era belonging to the ‘Right.’
Trump demands, not invites, corporations, unions—and both his supporters and critics—to begin the reindustrialization of America and a revitalization of the American ‘spirit’ and, as such, he appears to be closing the ‘temple doors of liberalism.’ He cited the ‘Almighty God’ in his inaugural speech as a true friend of the United States and overlord of all that exists.
President Trump’s words and actions, thus far, point to a movement of the zealous religious-patriotic type that, if it is to succeed, must start with instilling a frenzied populist nationalism in the consciousness of most of America. Trump and staff members like Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer exhibit the zealotry of a once persecuted ideology and movement that now finds itself legitimized and holding the reins of power. Like Trump, the butt of criticism and satire for so long, they are overly defensive and create ‘facts’ that square with their vision and not necessarily reality.
The non-believers will pay
In Trump’s America, enemies and blasphemers are the Republican and Democratic elites responsible for, or complicit in, replacing American labor with underpaid workers based in China, Mexico, India and the Philippines who have heretofore manufactured automobiles, cell phones and clothing. And the bad guys are those companies who have turned raw materials into airframes, computers and fiber optic cable abroad and then shipped them back to the US homeland free-of-border-charges. It is federal, state and local governments who have allowed the American infrastructure—roads, bridges, rail, public education—to rot away. Those same governing levels sat idly by as the murder of civilians and law enforcement personnel took place. Taking this further, it is anti-Trump Americans on the streets who do not support Trump.
Indeed, enemies may come to include those who choose not to follow the leader and dissent publically. Trump has said repeatedly that he will punish US corporations who manufacture overseas and then export finished goods to the USA by tax or tariff. What will be the penalty for those who challenge or question President Trump like CNN news? Pilloried, perhaps?
“Congratulations to @FoxNews for being number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS @CNN—public is smart!, Trump opined in a Tweet on Jan. 24.
Will another House Committee on Un-American Activities subtly reemerge?
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!,” Trump said in a Tweet on Jan. 25.
Trump has even blasted sacrosanct American aerospace and defense giants like Boeing and Lockheed for cost overruns on key aviation programs. Would Trump take it a notch higher if he knew that Boeing helps fund STEM education for Chinese students in China. Why not bring that money to the USA?
Now what? Diktat by Twitter
For years, critics of neo-liberalism (me too) have made the argument that the corporations that own the Republican and Democratic political parties were gutting the US Constitution, Bill of Rights and ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence. The 30 percent that own most of the wealth in America were enriching themselves at the expense of the remaining 70 percent, many who are only a few paydays from bankruptcy. And they are killing the White, Black and Latino classes that live paycheck to paycheck, with many strung out on legal smack from the pharmaceutical conglomerates but do not have the political clout that Identity Politics brings.
“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you,” President Trump said during his inaugural speech on Jan. 20.
“Never before have the people thirsted for authority, direction, order, as they do now,” said Mussolini.
“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds,” Trump Tweeted on Jan. 24.
What if Trump succeeds?
Who is Trump’s director of national intelligence going to be?
The NSA and Cyber Command Chief Admiral Mike Rogers took it upon himself to interview with the then President-elect Trump without seeking clearance from the former Commander in Chief, Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense to do so. Apparently he did not feel a duty to his chain of command, instead seeking to advance the prospect of Trump selecting him to be the next director of National Intelligence.
Roger’s superiors halfheartedly recommended that he be relieved of command, but never really pursued the matter. Under Roger’s watch significant security breaches took place at NSA and his management style left a lot to be desired.
According to the Washington Post, “Instead, in the past year and a half, officials have discovered two major compromises of sensitive hacking tools by personnel working at the NSA’s premier hacking unit: the Tailored Access Operations (TAO). One involved a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, Harold T. Martin III, who is accused of carrying out the largest theft of classified government material. Rogers was put on notice by his two [direct] bosses—Clapper and Carter—that he had to get control of internal security and improve his leadership style. There have been persistent complaints from NSA personnel that Rogers is aloof, frequently absent and does not listen to staff input.”
If Admiral Rogers is Trump’s choice for DNI, the 17 intelligence agencies under the DNI’s watch are not likely to be pleased. And all Americans would do well to ‘watch their six’ with a rogue kindred Trump spirit the DNI head.
Trump could select Frances Townsend, a TV personality like Trump, and former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. On the other hand, Townsend worked for CNN and now does so for CBS, a black mark upon her soul, apparently.
“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!,” Trump proclaimed on Jan. 24.
Is President Donald Trump the Elmer Gantry of the Oval Office? Is he the Donald Trump fighting Don King in Celebrity Death Match? Is he a hypocrite that demeans the US federal government even as his Washington, DC, hotel is on a site that he leases from the US General Services Administration?
Or is he an American who seeks a better future for his grandchildren and all young Americans?
It feels like the 1980s Ronald Reagan ‘Morning in America’ vibe in Washington, DC. But 2017 is radical, an acceleration of the cult of personality. There are more homeless people in my neighborhood.
Let’s see what Pope Francis says.
John Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.