Of Course Trump’s Not A Republican
Trump is not a Republican. This much has always been clear. Fiscal responsibility, personal sacrifice, family values, small but effective government, bi-partisan unity, free trade, pro-immigration, compassionate conservativism, and all that. No.
My problem is that I’ve been trying to appeal to centrist/libertarian conservatives and religious conservatives with this framing. And then asking how? How can they?
That’s because I’m an idiot.
I’ve learned a lot, though.
You see, this framing is totally wrong. What I should have been asking — anyone — is “Why a nationalist populist?” The “Fake Republican” tact is dead in the water. In this world, I’ve been called a Trumper and a Bernie Bro, just for asking questions, depending on the soldier I am speaking with.
It’s fucking insane.
At the RNC, I saw appeals to normalize the term “Nationalist”. No. We know what Nationalism means as it relates to our history. My wife’s grandfather landed on the beaches of Normandy because of it. Then we (and my father) went on to fight the resulting responses to it for decades later. There was no debate in school in the 80’s. It was still in our rear view mirrors then.
We also know what Nationalism is all about. It is not about policies in the existing framework, so please, Trump apologists, enough with the old “what about his policies?” defense. The Nationalism we’re talking about is about the leader. It is about the messaging. It is about the rhetoric. It is about the division. It is about the blind loyalty. It is about the slow and systemic dismantling of norms (laws need not be broken…we just need to exhaust the opposition into acceptance). One small thing will get by. Many small things will get by. Then it’s one big thing. The president can set and influence policy and have very smart people carry them out. We don’t need a leader to do anything else but unify and lead, and with the “buck stops here” attitude. We do not want monarchs and family loyalists and cults of personality and theatre. That is for banana republics. No leader of a company divides his employees into good and bad and bashes half of them multiple times a day. That’s just insane.
Say it: Trump is a far-right nationalist. We are not republicans and democrats and independents right now. We are for or against this nation leaving the station and steaming headlong into what we already know about Nationalism and banana republics.
History tells us that Nationalism (any push toward absolute central authority, actually) breeds a dangerous opposition. This opposition is often small and ineffective at first, or, mostly nonexistent in their power (the Weimar Jews). Four years ago the boogeymen were “taking political correctness too far”. Now they are “burning down our cities.” There you go. It unfolds over time. Who is “they”? I ask this question all the time. Never get a sensible answer. That’s because it is any political or cultural body that threatens power. You can use it for anything. All the dems. All the BLMs. All the Jews. All the media. All the city people.
All, all, all. That’s the playbook. If you can divide just enough to guarantee the votes you can get in. A pandemic offers an excellent opportunity. They always have. Unrest can be managed and manipulated. Every level of government and the media is doing it right now. I can tell it works, because even the smartest people on my social media feeds are buying into their fed narratives and false dilemmas.
Nationalism can get very far, as it did in Nazi Germany, eventually requiring a cataclysmic response to stop it. But what we see quite often is, when it goes too far, the overblown or fake boogeyman become real. The people have had enough and there is a revolution. Now there’s a surefire recipe for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Batista bred Castro. Chiang Kai-Shek bred Mao. Tsars bred Soviet Communism. Monarchic one-party rule bred the Khmer Rouge. The Shah bred what we have today in Iran. There really are revolutions.
In the Trump worldview, the opposition is now “People in the dark shadows”.
You see, once you go there, you have to take massive measures to go back, or the people might choose the other side of the same coin and will take the beating from the other side. Probably a worse beating, but at least a more equal one. We all go to jail in that scenario.
It is well past the time to argue with the ignorant and the greedy. There are the unaware and there are the “I’m getting mine” folks who get a Supreme Court justice and propped up stock returns and protection from taxes and so on. Let them be. Instead of looking at history and how things unfold and imagining where it goes, time and again, they would rather imagine past alternate realities (imagine Hillary, though!) and future telling (Here is what Biden’s America will look like. It’s much worse, can’t you see my future telling?)
We are lost in a sea of false dilemmas, pounded with them like so many sledgehammers by our leaders and by the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure media we voluntarily plug into. What we are doing now is setting ourselves up for the ultimate false dilemma: What kind of autocracy do you want? You must pick Coke or Pepsi. Anything else is a loser. Actually, scratch that. Do you want Brawno or something else? Anything else.
The only thing we can do now is stop wasting our energy on those who are already lost. Vote. Vote smartly. Vote to stop nationalism. Trade votes across state lines. Do whatever is necessary within the system. Education has failed us. Put that on hold for now.
It Can’t Happen Here. Right?