Freud’s id has landed. David Brooks nails it. If Trump still wins after this week, then obviously there’s something going on in the psyche of the majority of Americans that craves vengeance, authoritarianism, harshness, and Nietzschean indifference toward the weak.
It won’t be Jefferson’s America, or Eisenhower’s America. It will be Putin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, or Hitler’s Germany circa 1933.
If you think, had you been alive in the 1930s, that you would have resisted Mussolini and Hitler after they reached power, you may soon get your test in real time.
Women, demographics, and Trump. I’ve long thought the resonances of Weimar Germany with our contemporary politics were obviously there, but I just never seriously believed it could rise to this level of existential threat–until this year. I thought demographics would save us. And women tend to vote in greater numbers than men–and with a competent woman leading one of the parties, it still seems logical this year that they’ll break for her in large numbers, given the historic nature of her candidacy. The ascent of a dictator (“Yes he will!”) who explicitly dog whistles to white supremacists and preaches blood and soil nationalism, seems impossible in America, 2016.
Yet here we are. Alarmingly, the Republican Party first buckled, then swooned, then collapsed like a house of cards before such a man. Now it appears the Republican Party is firmly united behind Trump. In Trump, George Wallace now meets Adolf Hitler meeting the Republican Party–and it isn’t pretty.
Perhaps the country’s demographics as a whole will indeed save us. But if so, it will be by a hair. That means that if you aren’t voting against Herr Trump in November, and if you’re not speaking out loudly–loudly and unmistakably now–then you’re responsible for whatever Herr Trump does when he reaches the Oval Office.
Vladimir Putin in the Lincoln Bedroom? In his essay, Brooks is most angry with Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, etc. for caving to Herr Trump, and for now functioning as the ongoing enablers of Herr Trump.
So it’s on the rest of us right now. We either defeat Herr Trump–with moderate Democrats, Republicans, and Independents turning hard against him together in the last months of this election–or we perhaps spend literally decades fighting to get back to even the semblance of the America we thought we knew.
Will the center hold? Or will we find Herr Trump inviting his good friend Vladimir Putin to spend nights in the Lincoln Bedroom?
Tactical nuclear weapons and the loss of civil liberties? If you have small children or grandchildren, you may literally be deciding in November what sort of country they will inherit as adults decades from now. If you vote for Trump, you may even be condemning them to death in a civilizational war akin to the two fought in the last century. (Do not put it past Trump to escalate to the use of tactical nuclear weapons very quickly in a crisis, then locking down on the country domestically–then finding the crises he has exacerbated spinning beyond his control.)
So this isn’t the usual swing of the left-right pendulum with checks and balances securely in place. That’s what we’ve known for over two centuries. The choice in November is to upend this arrangement fundamentally. We literally risk a fatal compromising of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and our nuclear arsenal (in the sense that Trump may be foolish enough to start making use of it).
And yet there are people who say this is not a fundamental election; that Trump won’t be so bad.
Trump and global warming. Poo-pooing Trump’s danger is akin to poo-pooing global warming. If you deny even the basic threat, then you can blindly court disaster without even offering supporting arguments. You don’t have to have a consequential debate because you won’t start with the premise that something consequential is going on.
So this is the question every Trump supporter should be confronted with again and again until November: In a crisis, what makes you think Herr Trump won’t use tactical nuclear weapons? How confident are you about this? And if he does, what makes you think a broader war won’t necessarily break out, accompanied by still other war crimes and deployments of still more tactical nuclear weapons–and that our domestic civil liberties will go on being reliably protected after that?
It’s not how Trump might behave in the absence of crisis that makes him so startlingly dangerous, but how he might behave in a crisis. And the truth is that we don’t know. Nobody knows. We don’t have a clue. So don’t call yourself a conservative if your choice this year is not Hillary. There’s nothing “conservative” or “pro-American” about voting for a mercurial and temperamental authoritarian who might use a tactical nuclear weapon in a fit of pique.
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