I agree wholeheartedly with what Virginia Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria/Arlington) has to say on Facebook this morning (see below; bolding added by me for emphasis). I also highly recommend Robert Kagan’s op-ed, “This is how fascism comes to America,” in this morning’s Washington Post. Among other things, Kagan notes that Alexander Hamilton worried “that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.” Kagan concludes with the following, chilling, and all-too-real warning (bolding added by me for emphasis):
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
And now for Del. Mark Levine’s Facebook post.
Donald Trump is a Fascist.
I do not utter these words lightly.
In an Internet world of frequent, coarse mindless insults, Godwin’s law (Reductio ad Hitlerum) is sadly all too common.
Yet if “crying wolf” no doubt leads us to complacency, what are we to do when the real wolf comes along? Stay silent?
Robert Kagan and I disagree on many, many things. He is a neoconservative who supported the Iraq War. I am a pragmatic progressive who seeks out justice for the vulnerable.
But these differences should not obscure the fact that the single best op-ed I’ve ever read to explain the Trump phenomenon is below.
Read it carefully, slowly, and thoughtfully. Take particular heed of the description of how political leaders historically respond to the Cult of Personality that defines the Democratically-Elected Strongman who proudly ignores norms and constitutional checks and balances as he transforms nations from republics to dictatorships.
Never doubt the Power of Hate. Or its Destructive Force.
You don’t need Hitler or Mussolini to make the point. Latin American caudillos, Arab dictators, and the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan come to mind, as do American demagogues like Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, and Huey Long.
Fascism has occurred all over the world. Are we so blinded by American Exceptionalism that we don’t believe it could ever happen here?
And isn’t that what the sophisticated Germans of the 1930’s said to themselves?