Fear: The Commodity of Authoritarianism
“And I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! . . . He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. ” Andrew Shepherd addressing his opponent Bob Rumson in the closing speech of American President.
Donald J. Trump’s off-the-chart wacko letter to Nancy Pelosi the night before his impeachment vote is a thing of sheer lunacy. Trump is the typical bully standing on the playground shouting at anyone who will listen “Am not! Am not! Everything that you say bounces off me and sticks on you!” That kind of lunacy. His screed to Pelosi (partially authored by Stephen Miller of “lock the kids in cages” fame) is shredded with lies, innuendos, third grade taunts, and an obvious ignorance of the world that is spinning out of control around him. He is in a word – unhinged.
The above quote by frictional president Andrew Shepherd eerily mirrors the president and his mindset. He seems to lean toward the school of thought that (as many have said) accuses everyone else of the exact things that he is doing in real time. Of course, daily, he hits all the oldies but goodies bashing in no particular order Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, James Comey, Hillary Clinton, impeachment, liberal Democrats (in his mind the only kind there is in this world), the DNC, and as in the Pelosi letter, ends up with an outlandish reference to the Salem Witch Trials and a “oh poor me” whine that the witches had more due process than he has gotten from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. The fact, notwithstanding, that the witches were falsely accused, tried, and murdered seems to escape his tunnel vision thinking.
Trump does exhibit Bob Munson’s predilection for making people afraid of issues and coming up with whom to blame. The Democrats get most of the homeland blame, but the president is known to be the Blamer in Chief on the world stage as well. Most Americans understand the blame game and have become inured to the onslaught of lies and half truths and totally fictional statements that are Trump’s stock and trade. What many Americans do not understand is his mastery of fear and how to use it to get just about anything he wants from the Republican Party, world leaders, and his all important base is the real threat to our democracy. And this is undoubtedly his most dangerous trait.
Of course, the Republicans in Congress aren’t exempt from Trump’s fear tactics. The main tool the president uses against his party is the threat of running a Trump anointed candidate against a Republican up for reelection although he has many other avenues including Tweets, a shoutout/shoutdowns in rallies, and even face to face encounters. With a base as rabid as an amoral pit bull on meth, Republicans who find the courage to face up to their bully in chief will undoubtedly find themselves in trouble at home in their districts and on Capitol Hill. In an article written by Tom Boggioni for Raw Story, he comments on an interview that appeared in the New York Times writing about one congressman who made the ultimate mistake of crossing the Orange One. He wrote,
By the summer of 2017, Dave Trott, a two-term Republican congressman, was worried enough about President Trump’s erratic behavior and his flailing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he criticized the president in a closed-door meeting with fellow G.O.P. lawmakers,” the Times reports.” The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. ‘Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,’ he recalled a colleague telling him. ‘Be ready for a barrage of tweets. Raw Story
While Republican congressmen/women fear the president himself, his base fears what Trump tells them in real time. Fake news, hopped up marauding immigrants, loss of social status within the population for themselves are just click bait for Trump to use to put the fear of god into his followers. Democrats become scum, socialists, haters of democracy, crazy lunatics hellbent on destroying the government and turning the country into a cesspool of ideas that mean only harm to his adoring base. His rallies are little more than one long dog whistle to build his stature up while eroding the fundamentals of our Constitution and the ideals on which it was built and depends.
Trump has in three short years sketched out the foundation of an authoritarian government with him at its head, and conceivably, his children to take over after he leaves the stage. By attacking the media, he turns truth into propaganda that his base feeds upon daily. Set aside the tweets, scandals, the Russia probe, and a countless other number of diversions and behind the scenes end around actions, he is reshaping the government by destroying the infrastructure on which it runs. Policies on energy, trade, judicial appointments, the Clean Water Act, and on and on are an integral part of Trump’s play book. He has gutted departments and policies that were meant to enhance the quality of life for all Americans by turning over the reins of governments to lobbyists, shills like Rick Perry and Rudy Giuliani, white supremacists like Stephen Miller, and other billionaires like the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland. They have one primary goal: to enrich themselves and others within the authoritarian hierarchy. For Trump, this is the ultimate meaning of the “fix is in”.
One of the most remarkable strokes of political shrewdness, however, has thrown a monkey wrench into the rigged Senate impeachment trial. While Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham have publicly claimed that they will follow the direction of the president and his lawyers during the trail, Trump’s dream of an acquittal and exoneration from wrongdoing has stalled. Pelosi, again, has stood up to the president and his minions and has thus far refused to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she gets assurances from Republicans that a fair and unbiased trail will be held.
Predictably, and understandably considering his toxic ego, Trump has gone ballistic. After leaving Washington for his vulture’s nest in Mar a Lago, he has bombarded the tweet waves with countless tweets attacking “Crazy Nancy”, the Do Nothing Dems and all of the other usual suspects. He seems to think by the sheer volume of outlandish catcalls he can some how change the conversation and swing the tide of public opinion in his favor. Preliminary results seem to tell a different story.
Paulo Coelho in his book The Winner Stands Alone makes a particularly insightful statement when he writes, “. . . but despair can deceive the desperate”. Every day Trump remains in Florida tweeting, Coelho’s words seem to apply more and more to the president. Let’s face it; the man is up to his eyebrows in deep shit. The slam to his ego and shame that now embraces his presidency through the impeachment process is taking a great toll on the Orange One’s thin skin. As he reels further and further into self pity and rage, something has to give. With the crack in the Evangelical base demonstrated by the editorial penned by the editor of “Christianity Today” to the memories of being laughed off the world stage at the Nato summit in early December to Pelosi’s bitch slap of withholding articles of impeachment, all hang like a stagnant fog over Trump’s tiny universe. No one deserves it more.