Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump's Totalitarian Playbook and How to Defeat It

With his Muslim ban, Trump has begun to identify his adversaries – both within the federal government and outside. He is dehumanizing people from many countries – top scholars are no different from terrorists, in his sinister eyes. He has begun undermining and stigmatizing the media, hoping he can work his foulest schemes in secrecy while filling our consciousness with his abundant propaganda. He has simultaneously been undermining the political process, with a sham storyline about voter fraud against him that led him to lose the popular vote very substantially – when, in fact, if there was any voter suppression, it was probably of his side’s doing, misleading voters.  

Trump’s next steps are: 

1) undermine and de-legitimize political adversaries – will he send death squads for legislators who oppose him, or shut down the whole Senate, or just  throw up so many lies about his opponents that they lose political clout all together; 

2) a catastrophic event, like the burning of the Reichstag in Germany in the 30’s – a monument may crumble, people may die, and Trump will use the tragic moment in a pre-planned seizure of power, maybe martial law, telling Americans they must pull together behind him and against our enemies here and abroad. Remember how America came together after 9/11? Now imagine that kind of power in the hands of a despot far worse than Bush; 

3) disempower the civil rights lawyers and the judiciary – he will sabotage the courageous trial lawyers and civil rights advocates who seek to hold him accountable by drowning them with endless falsehoods, appealing to populist sensibilities (and possibly anti-Semitism) against "greedy lawyers," "ambulance chasers" and the like. Meantime, any courts that try to stand in his administration’s way will be excoriated – only kangaroo courts tolerated. We saw a bit of this from him pre-election with his racist remarks about the Latino Indiana judge who ruled against him;  and

4) delegitimize the political parties– in the mid-term elections, possibly after the event that mirrors the Reichstag burning, Trump will say he is the only answer, only those loyal to him are loyal Americans, leaving no room for anything but sycophants and the terrorized masses.

The way to resist is to resist. Sally Q. Yates said no to the Muslim ban as Acting Attorney General, and lost her 30-year career. Will people follow her example and say “no,” and find a new path in fighting the totalitarian, or will he cow his opponents with his violence? If, in the wake of Yates’ retaliatory termination, we all stand with her – if the 100 current State Department resistors become 10,000 – then we can stop Trump. His path to dictatorship depends on us becoming subservient, seeing no other way, losing the will to fight, circling our wagons and protecting what’s ours.

Let us, instead, heed the words of George Santayana, that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Trump can become very powerful, or can collapse under his own bloated mass if he does not have enough people to prop him up while the rest of us look away.

We will fight the new American Revolution if a tyrant comes to take away our democracy. Or, as we chanted at the recent Women’s March, a people united can never be defeated.

Donald Trump - you are nothing, compared to all of us.

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