Can you imagine a “President Trump”? Few educated Americans can. But few educated Germans imagined a “Chancellor Hitler” either. During the Great Depression, author Sinclair Lewis warned that the fascism sweeping Europe could very easily infect America if all the dominoes happen to fall in the right place – i.e., Italy, Spain, and Germany. The title of his 1935 classic is It Can’t Happen Here.
Now it’s politically incorrect to make Nazi metaphors – since such comparisons have been over-used, exaggerated, and abused in the past. However, there are clear similarities worth mentioning.
The parallel goes like this:
Billionaire Donald Trump in 2016 is a charismatic, power-hungry politician – although he stubbornly denies it. Trump considers himself a “conservative populist”. He wins the party’s nomination despite the consolidated efforts of a well-funded Republican establishment combined with potentially lethal clandestine operations orchestrated by Karl Rove. Trump escapes several assassination attempts. Because of these, Trump crows he’s “under God’s protection”. The religious right flocks further into his camp.
His patriotic theme “Make America Great Again” resonates with millions who view the U.S. as in-steep-decline due to Obama’s presidency. To put it simply, a Black President sitting in the White House is an abomination to them, but they can never acknowledge their racism, whether latent or overt. It wouldn’t matter how many accomplishments the Black President fulfills; they would never recognize any of them. Their state of denial goes from the economy to climate to race to constitutional matters. Fables overpower facts. The bubble wins but will burst when truth finally dawns.
Trump also demonizes immigrants, specifically Latinos, claiming they’re a scourge and a drain on the economy. He promises to deport 11 million of them – loading them up on trains and buses. Furthermore, he demands the Mexican government pay $25 billion for a 2,000-mile wall between the U.S. and their country.
It’s only natural. America salivates over the rich, strong-man. Trump promises to create more wealth. The wannabes of the uneducated lower-class jump at his words. So do the “Christian” devotees of the “prosperity doctrine”. They crave a strong leader who’ll take them to the “promised land”.
Painting himself as a champion of traditional American values, Trump easily defeats his opponents. Evangelicals are snared hook, line and sinker because they still hold fast to the simplistic belief that “R” (Republican) stands for “righteousness” and “D” (Democrat) stands for “devilish”. They also are captured by “prosperity theology” – where the rich are in God’s favor while the poor are in His disfavor – diametrically contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The economy heads South in 2016, making further fertile ground for a Trump triumph. At economic downturns, the party out of power usually wins, and so it is in 16. All the cards are stacked in his favor, including the traditional pendulum swing – where the party holding the presidency for 8 years seldom wins another 4.
In the months leading up to the election, most pundits and pollsters predict a Hillary Clinton sweep, but 16 isn’t so sweet for Democrats. The slowing of the economy, the rage of white males, the unjustified anger over Obamacare, the Iran agreement, and legalization of same-sex marriage – all combine to drive the rightwing mad. They enthusiastically sprint en mass to the polls. The Republican political operatives that used hate, rage and fear to win elections are now prisoners of their own making.
Meanwhile, progressives aren’t so thrilled with Hillary’s win over Bernie. The absence of energy on the left tips the election to Trump. There is no sense of urgency in a progressive movement dispirited by the Democratic establishment. Obama turned his back on unions in Wisconsin when they needed him most. Will Hillary do any differently?
Trump wins the electoral college 285-253, not a landslide. The pointless popular vote is closer – 50-49%.
The morning after, millions scratch their heads, “This can’t happen here.”
But they still have no clue about parallels to follow.
Soon after Trump’s inauguration, civil unrest erupts in several major cities. In quick response, the new president organizes right-wing “community militias” to quell the violence. Instead of brown shirts, the militia wears green plaid – In deference to Trumps ancestry: German and Scottish. The Green Shirts respond to protests against Trump and deal with demonstrators violently, attacking with bayonets and combat weapons. Thousands die.
Mexicans, of course, are prime targets. Many are murdered on the streets before being rounded up and hauled off like cattle in trains. America’s Mexicans are Nazi Germany’s Jews. African-Americans are treated no better.
Since Congress has long been in gridlock, Trump acts swiftly to further weaken the body. His administration unilaterally sets up a “corporate” government which curtails women and minority rights, bypasses Congress to set up executive-appointed, privatized governing bodies over cities and states that refuse to submit – similar to Michigan’s prototype under Rick Snyder. Scott Walker’s example is also followed by de-certifying all federal government unions. “Executive orders” are handed out like candy to trick-or-treaters. Trump has no problem violating the Constitution, just so the Second Amendment is left in place – allowing the right to punish the left.
The Iran nuclear agreement is canceled. Combat is preferable to containment. America grants Trump license to nuke Iran without provocation.
The Justice Department is revamped where those accused of crime against the Trump government appear before a court presided over by “military judges”. Swiftjustice is what America demands, and despite these dictatorial measures, a majority approves of them – perceiving them as necessary steps to restore America’s greatness.
Congratulations, America! Fascism finally arrives – 80 years after Sinclair Lewis predicted.
It can’t happen here?
Well, it can and will if Americans are blind and uneducated enough – like they seem to be at present (at least a plurality).
On the other hand, Nazism never won a majority but seized full control regardless. It doesn’t take much to tip the scales. Even in America.
Many so-called “Christians” will disagree, but Sinclair Lewis was a prophet. It will happen here if a plurality pulls the Trump card – as it seems to be doing a year before the election.