Destabilizing chaos is characteristic of emergent fascist regimes.
Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson recently became one of the latest casualties of the Trump Cabinet to be fired by his boss — on Twitter. Clearly dismayed and humiliated by the insulting disregard with which his departure was handled, Tillerson thanked everyone in a live press conference for their contributions to his tenure as Secretary of State — except Trump. Tillerson had previously called Trump a moron but had seemingly been lulled into thinking the inevitability of payback had lost its shine. Wrong. A malignant narcissist never forgets a slight.
Tillerson’s departure was just the latest reminder of the lack of civility and tumult into which this current White House has descended. America has hatched an incipient fascist dictator that is fast losing his regard for protocol or the kind of diplomacy people like Tillerson bring to the negotiation table. Compounding this development is a prevailing political party bearing little resemblance to its former, reasonably sane, conservative self. Together, they seem more committed to collusion — the kind that dismisses consequential aspects of the U.S. Constitution to latch onto their Russian-aided power grab — than defending Constitutional precepts, or any practices resembling the former politesse of the American Republic.
This kind of destabilizing chaos is characteristic of emergent fascist regimes. It is not happening randomly in the Trump White House.
We are in seriously perilous times and uncharted political territory, and we can no longer downplay the overtly fascist underpinnings of this Trump regime. When it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we shouldn’t be thinking, “Um, what animal could this possibly be?”
We are already being suffocated by a blanket of fascist propaganda — strategies that distract, for example, from a proper interpretation of our Second Amendment and dismiss common sense fixes on gun control. The mentally ill and fascist white supremacist cults do not comprise a “well established militia” and have no business having access to AR-15 assault rifles. We have witnessed the killing fields that our schools, churches, movie theaters, concert venues, night clubs, and yes, our veterans’ homes have become yet, still, we cannot make prudent changes on gun control policy?
The hypocrisy on this issue cannot be more blatant.
In fact, the subversive divisiveness on this hot-button issue makes complete sense now that we understand that Russia also infiltrated the NRA and is, likely, a major source of funding for the exorbitant campaign contributions being made to Trump and other pro-gun-lobby GOP representatives. When the NRA makes a remarkable shift from insurrection forty years ago, when they advocated an individual’s right to shoot and kill government officials if they behaved in a “tyrannical” manner, to outright fascism, declaring now that they have no issues with an authoritarian government that infringes on the rights of the American people as long as that government is on the NRA’s side, what do we think is happening? Or when they are inciting conservatives to engage in armed violence against those who protest Trump administration policies?
Indeed, our eyes should be wide open now when, on the heels of an unambiguous demand for the Pentagon to create a military parade of strength to abet his pissing contest with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Führer-ling Trump upped the ante, lauding Chinese President Xi Jinping, after the ruling Communist party announced it was eliminating the two-term limit for the presidency. Essentially, this would pave the way for Jinping to serve indefinitely in what would be tantamount to a dictatorship within an already well-established authoritarian regime.
“He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great,” Trump said at a closed-door dinner at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” This, to cheers and applause from his supporters who were present.
Seriously, have we lost our collective minds?
The Trump-fatigued and political optimists may waft this away as Trump continuing to “run his mouth.” But therein lies grave danger because what this means is that we’re becoming desensitized to the kind of fascist rhetoric and behavior that would have precipitated impeachment proceedings in previous administrations — Republican or otherwise. Indeed, fascist barbarians now stand at the gate of our Republic, and our political will and resolve to defend this country are being weakened, and not just by political fatigue but also a prevailing sense of frustrated helplessness.
After all, how do we combat such real threats now? Our State Department, headed by the now-ousted Tillerson — a Putin bestie and “Friend of Russia” recipient — deemed not a single dime of its $120 million budget to combat Russian meddling worthy of being spent. His incoming replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, deemed “more in line” with Trump’s thinking will likely do less. Therefore, to whom do we now plead for temperance? Vice President Pence? Speaker Ryan? Mitch McConnel? The DNC?
When you view these developments through the lens of an August 2017 poll in which half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump proposed it, that should scream that we are becoming complicit in our own demise, shoveling fascist excrement over our own democratic sensibilities.
“Even if that’s Trump’s wet dream,” Harvard Constitution Law Professor Laurence Tribe tells me, “I’m confident he’d be unable to perform it in real life. Elections are governed by a complex mix of state and federal law, but one fixed point around which the whole mix revolves is the U.S. Constitution’s 4-year term for any POTUS/VPOTUS team.” Tribe continued, “Bottom line: There is no constitutionally legitimate way for Congress (or the states) to keep Trump in office beyond January 20, 2021 unless he wins a second 4-year term in November 2020. That doesn’t mean that a dictator-wannabe couldn’t just ignore the Constitution and hope to get away with it, either getting the courts to duck the issue or defying a judicial order from SCOTUS. But there is no way Trump could do it without violating the rule of law.”
I’m not sure whether to be comforted.
The narratives through which violation of the rule of law could be justified are already germinating right before our eyes.
Here are but two:
1. Trump’s repeated assertions that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 had 3 to 5 million “illegals” not voted — a claim repeated by his White House advisory committee on voter fraud.
Such claims have no factual basis and are contrived to distract from Russia’s involvement in our elections and possible collusion with his campaign. But what are the implications of such “infractions?” Are these false allegations really about Trump’s ego? Or, do they have a more sinister motive? Republicans in swing state Pennsylvania are already firing up their resolve, despite state Supreme Court push-back, to use gerrymandered electoral maps to follow Trump down this fascist rabbit hole. Which Republican-controlled state is next?
2. Trump’s continued denial of collusion with Russia despite overwhelming circumstantial evidence.
This can only now be about buying time. The real question should be, for what? The only thing clear from Special Counsel Mueller’s indictments of key players within the Trump campaign, as well as 13 Russian nationals for unprecedented interference with the U.S. political system and the 2016 presidential election, is that we still don’t fully know the degree of Russian infiltration into our government. Moreover, so many rules of law have already been violated by Trump, his family, and close aides that it is hard to imagine they have limits.
In this ultimate reality show that all of America is now unwittingly a part of, Trump cares about one thing and one thing only: WINNING. You and I, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law, and the rest of the world are merely expedient collateral damage toward that end. But this is a war he must LOSE in 2020. Furthermore, the midterms battle this November involves territory we can no longer yield. It is possibly the most crucial in our history. And more important to understand is that there is no political messiah coming to fix this mess. It is bigger than the next Kennedy hope, or Bernie, or Cory, or Kamla. It’s going to take everything we’ve got to push through cognitive dissonance to ward off these fascist infiltrators, even on social media.
Yes, it’s that kind of dog fight now. The real question is, what are you going to do about it?
[Fascist strategies in bold type]