This is how fascism comes to America

Robert Kagan writes: We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as it has everyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — 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. [Continue reading…]

Unfortunately, some people, lacking the confidence to think for themselves, are instead inclined to mirror the opinions of their ideological mentors, in which case it often seems to matter more who is speaking than what they are saying.

In this case, for those for whom the label neocon provokes disgust, the warnings from a leading neoconservative (Robert Kagan) might easily be dismissed — even though they are well-grounded. My advice: Ignore the byline and simply consider what he is saying. And remember that tyrants aren’t born — they emerge in a suitable set of conditions and those conditions themselves give birth to tyranny.

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3 thoughts on “This is how fascism comes to America

  1. Óscar Palacios

    In quite a few works of fiction, I’ve seen the scenario of an ultra-nationalist coming to power in Russia, unleashing all kinds of mayhem, promptly followed by, of course, a series of world-saving events whose protagonists are American, with an occasional Brit giving a hand.

    But I’ve never heard a similar story were an *American* strongman comes to power. I don’t like Trump, but I recognize in him an aura of invincibility that is seemingly irresistible. One wants strong leadership; people don’t follow reason, we tend to be seduced by strength. This is also the appeal of Putin.

    In my recent browsing and comment reading I’ve noticed a formidable surge of right-wing commentary. I have no real methodology, but I think it’s noticeable. Many support Trump and express fatigue and exhaustion with “leftist” topics and approaches to problems. I tend to think of politics as a pendulum, and my guess is that many perceive that pendulum to have gone too far to the left; that translates into a lot of potential energy that is about to explode in the opposite direction.

  2. SGT Tuttle

    You may be right. However America is in great peril. The Banks are destroying our citizens with their devil coupons of debt. Islam is a theocracy that never will tolerate Democracy. Truly our great nation has lacked proper leadership for quite some time. Call Mr. Trump what you will. Despite the reality show rhetoric, he has emerged as a leader among men. The straw men of the Establishment should fear him. The American People have had enough of being lied to and having their jobs outsourced overseas. This is the 11th hour, and Trump knows it. Is it all over but the shouting? We either stand up to
    tyranny, or we will be enslaved by our enemies; both foreign and domestic..

  3. David Airey

    Thanks for posting this Paul. I never thought I’d finding myself nodding agreement at the sage words of Robert Kagan, but here I sit doing just that! I find it clarifying and sobering to read this clear analysis of what we are experiencing – ‘the Trump phenomenon’ – and the cogent warning to go with it.

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