I haven’t personally doubted that Donald Trump was our own home-grown Nazi since he first declared his candidacy. His thuggery and bullying, his numerous bankruptcies, his connection with Roy Cohn and gambling and gamesmenship were all there to see for anyone willing to look. But something different has been going on the last couple of days. To put it bluntly, he has raised the Swastika and dared anyone to challenge him.
You can see this in his rambling press conference where he openly attacked the national media as fake news. This was not the President identifying some particular egregious act of bad reporting or mocking the disabled reporter. This was a wholesale castigating of the mainstream news sources and press and journalists that we rely on for information. Their reports are not to be trusted. Trump only is the arbiter of truth.
And you saw him raise the Swastika this Saturday at his Florida “campaign” rally, an opportunity for him to bathe in the adulation of his quasi-cult of followers. I’d like you to think about that for a moment because there was no other purpose for that rally. The election is over. He is now leading the country. Why then is he inciting his multitudes with his rants and inflamed rhetoric? The answer seems self-evident and chilling.
Few of us now living have seen the like of this in the Western World. The only parallel that comes to mind is the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, castigating the German press for their lies, holding mass rallies for his followers, and promising “Deutchland Uber Alles.” Trump is raising their flag, and he knows he is doing it, and he intends to show you that he can do it and get away with it. And with each over-the-top press conference, and rally, and midnight tweet attack, he takes another step down the path to Totalitarianism – to the dictatorial rule of Donald Trump. Because he is challenging us, or more specifically, he is challenging his Republican enablers to dare stop him. The rally? That was to let the Republicans know what they will have to deal with if they stand up. I can tell you from listening to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that we will get no help from that quarter.
It was, I think, inevitable that the Dictator in The Donald manifested itself. But there is the added question of why exactly is it happening right now? Doesn’t it feel premature – before he has done his homework purging the agencies and whipping Congress into line? It seems that way to me. And my take is that he feels pushed to act sooner rather than later by the burgeoning scandal of his contacts with Russia. Because he really did it – colluded with the Russians and the hacking of emails and release of compromising Clinton information – and he is getting ahead of any purported investigation now by demonstrating his invulnerability. He is striking out, and he will continue to strike out, because that is what he does when he feels he is under attack. As best I can see, the Republicans remain too venal, or too cowed, to object.
Simon Schama today tweeted, “Face it everyone, we have a cold civil war in the country.” Simon is not only correct, but Trump and the alt-right have declared that war. Many of us don’t want it to be, don’t want to acknowledge what now seems obvious. But if we don’t want to be bull-dozed, it will be up to us, and to our journalists, to make a fuss that cannot be ignored and cannot be suppressed.