I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone’s imagination. Hunter S. Thompson
What are we to do as Americans when we see everything this great country stands for being upended and torn asunder by a madman whose sole goal is to stroke his out sized ego, enrich himself and his family to the detriment of the rest of us, and generally breakdown the foundations of what makes America great? As pretentious as that sounds, it has become the reality for more than half of the population of this country. As bad as our fears might have been after the 2016 election, I honestly do not think any of us could have envisioned the level of tumult and dissension that is running through the very fabric of this great nation today.
Remember back in those early days of 2016 when we were all appalled by Donald Trump’s loose and easy association with the truth? He lied at times when lying did him no good. He lied because it is his nature to lie. Truth to Trump we learned was whatever Trump said it was. Do you remember being appalled when a cottage industry emerged whose sole purpose was to track the number of lies the president told. Were you concerned when his total lies topped a thousand? Two thousand? Three thousand? It is a frightening prospect, but I suspect the nation has become so punch drunk from the onslaught of falsehoods and misdirection that comes from the White House on a daily basis we simply look the other way and go about our business.
What is particularly disturbing is once his lies find the light of day his minions have no qualms about parroting the same lies as the party line and shouldn’t be questioned. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a prime example of just how far of plumb the Republican Party has drifted. Sanders has taken Trump’s lying to heart and has started her own litany of untruths to support her boss. Across the board from the Senate, the House, his cabinet, and a bevy of political operatives, all have cashed in their moral integrity to worship at the throne of the Orange One with the hope of remaking America in their image.
It has become so problematic and relentless that Maggie Haberman of the New York Times told “CNN that that staffers are so ‘numb’ to Trump’s lies they don’t even bother correcting him”. This begs the question, “Why?” Haberman thinks it more practical than insidious although it is that as well. Haberman said,
. . . President Donald Trump is relentlessly lying ahead of the 2018 midterm elections because he’s found that it works for him. CNN
It works for him? Think about that a minute. The most powerful man in the world with the ability to change the course of history at his fingertips lies incessantly because it works for him. Considering the state of bankruptcy of the Republican Party when it comes to veracity, empathy, and dedication to a fair and free democracy, Haberman makes a good point. What Trump has been doing all of his adult life is trying to create an reality of America that embraces white males like himself who really believe they are masters of the universe and everything in it.
But at what cost? A New York Times video aired on dailykos.com details the research by Yale philosopher, Jason Stanley, which takes a long, hard look at fascism and how it develops, grows, and ultimately, takes control. In a short five minute video titled, ‘If You’re Not Scared About Fascism in the U.S., You Should Be’, should be required viewing by all Americans who already think America is great and fear the direction the country is taking today. His formula for how fascism takes root is fairly simple:
The creation of a mythical “racially pure” and patriarchal past to instill feelings of nostalgia in the masses; the assertion that as long as “he,” the “strongman” remains in power, all will be well, and that without “him” the whole system will collapse;
Watch any Trump rally for five minutes and you will find this is a recurring theme that runs throughout his basic message. Make America Great Again was not chosen because it has a jaunty ring to it. The slogan hits home to older white Americans, alt right groups, and the working class who have suffered at the hand of what they see as the evil Democrats who want to give the country away to immigrants, sexual deviants, and a host of other people who are not like them. In my October 16, 2018 post, I explored what kind of people fall into lockstep with Trump and his vision for America. The point above dovetails a little too nicely into the mindset of the typical Trump supporter and reinforces Stanley’s argument.
Turning groups against each other: Germans and Jews, Hindus and Muslims; citizens and foreigners; whites and blacks, etc.: “when you divide, it’s easier to control.”
In Trump’s world, there is no end to the possibilities that accompany this point. The group du jour to vilify in recent days are transgender folk who find themselves living in a body that does not fit into their sexual orientation. Republicans and the “transgender bathroom” debacle made transgender Americans an anathema to all right thinking, sexually “normal” people (Trump’s base) who fear people who view their sexual orientation differently for their own.
A healthy nod needs to be given to right-wing, evangelical wackos who in the name of their god fomented the groundless charge that giving transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their sexual preference was merely a ruse for guys to dress up like girls to gain access to the women’s bathroom to do god only knows what to the poor unsuspecting young ladies. As a reality check, do a google search titled “sexual assault on campuses in bathrooms.” The result reveals transgender people aren’t the ones going into bathrooms and sexually assaulting females.
The list, however, has grown over the past two years of Trump’s presidency. Democrats are getting the brunt of his vilification currently. Canadians, Mexicans, NATO, reporters, and on and on have all been targets of Trump’s separation policy from his faithful base. Regrettably, it works.
Anti-intellectualism, and attacking the truth, because truth is essential to a free democracy, and therefore anathema to the fascist. This in turn creates a “petri dish” for conspiracy theories, with the ultimate goal of devaluing the truth altogether.
This point brings us full circle in the charade that is the Trump presidency. Facts to a fascist are the kryptonite that undermines their message and the ultimate control that they have over their followers. Fake news is the perfect mantra for Trump and his followers whether they are Fox News watchers, alt right hoodlums, or even the run of the mill seniors, both male and female. These people want to believe everything Trump has promised them, so his word has become sacrosanct. They honestly believe that CNN, MSNBC, and others are literally making up news to tear down their leader, thereby, destroying the promises he made to them from day one.
While the truth suffers, and suffers badly, possibly even more damaging are the conspiracy theories that arise to support the ideas that the only truth is Trump’s truth. MS13 gangs rolling across the southern border of the United States by the thousands, Mexicans are rapists and hell bent on taking our women folk (or guys depending on their sexual orientation), or the lost Hillary emails and on and on.
Right now, a caravan of immigrants is marching north from Central America approximately 400 miles south of the Texas border. Half of the group are women and children legitimately seeking political asylum due to the violence and mayhem they face in their home countries. In recent days, Trump, in an effort to get his base out to vote in the upcoming election, claimed the caravan includes terrorists and people of middle-eastern descent supposedly hell bent on destroying the American way of life. He offers no proof, but his echo chamber latched on to the idea and the drum beat of caustic rhetoric has grown to a fevered pitch. The thing about conspiracy theories is they do not feed off of the truth, but fear; something Trump uses as a cudgel to beat his base into a lather to do his bidding.
This morning Americans awoke to the news that bombs were mailed to George Soros, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the CNN headquarters in Manhattan. This afternoon, a total of eight bombs have been discovered mailed to prominent Democrats. However, Trump and his minions are never too ashamed to kick in the conspiracy theory to turn the table and the nation’s collective esprit de corps into something usable for the party.
Many in the right-wing media, including prominent voices like Rush Limbaugh, the popular talk-radio host, and Candace Owens, a frequent Fox News guest, have begun to promote a conspiracy theory that Democrats were behind several packages containing explosive devices sent by mail to top Democrats this week. Business Insider
If I am not mistaken, this quote hits all three points that make up a fascist agenda – a trifecta of sorts. Welcome to the brave new world of Trumpism.