Trump’s brand of intolerant, divisive rhetoric is mightily reminiscent of a certain historical figure.
Four years ago, in 2011, Donald Trump was crashing around the Presidential campaign like an obscene bull with Mad Cow Disease. This is what we wrote at the time (go to the link for the full text):
Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the political ring with a stunningly childish sequence of pronouncements. Those pronouncements have been, by turns, illogical, crowing, blustering, and… petulant. Not the qualities I’m looking for in the next Leader of the Free World….
… in Las Vegas, he regaled some 600 listeners with a speech widely described in the press as “profanity-laced.” I couldn’t care less about the profanity. It is perhaps not proper decorum for a would-be President, but I am much more concerned about the ideas he expressed, which show him to know practically nothing about international relations or use of the military. He is already a crass, blustering bull in a china shop. America does not need those doubtful qualities barreling all over the world in the person of our Head of State, causing tremendous harm for decades to come. A President Trump would have the dubious distinction of making the world long for the gentle, thoughtful and eloquent ways of Bush 43. And one more thing about that speech: I don’t want any President who thinks America is not a great country. The President can say we have problems. He can’t say we’re not a great country.
And so, at the close of the week, we find The Donald at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner… comedian Seth Meyers joked on a range of topics, including The Donald. But in typical bully fashion, The Donald was not to be outdone. He later lashed back at Meyers, calling him a “stutterer.” Wow. Gracefully done, Donald.
The most frightening thing about this whole chain of events is that there are a few who think The Donald should run, and they would vote for him in all seriousness. Please, please, please let that be a tiny minority. The day that the American people find a crass, cartoonish, ignorant, reality-show personality a viable Presidential candidate, would be probably the darkest day in American political history to date.
Well, that dark day may be approaching. It’s early yet, and the political landscape will certainly look very different by the time Americans go to the polls, but this time around, Trump has more support – and as Rolling Stone notes, that support comes from the dregs among us. The latest disturbing incident is the beating of a Hispanic homeless man in Boston, with the two miscreant assailants proclaiming that “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” Trump’s initial reaction? “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”
Errr… it almost sounds like an endorsement of this type of thuggish activity, doesn’t it? Apparently, someone with a little more sense prevailed on The Donald to backtrack a couple of days later, calling the beating “terrible.”
Can one hold a hot-headed, profanity-flinging, cartoonish oaf of a political candidate responsible for the actions of a couple of thugs who seize on his words to justify a violent crime that they were all too eager to commit? Perhaps not in the legal sense, but I think Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi pegs it when he writes:
Trump… doesn’t need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.
Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone… for their problems. …the difference is that Trump’s political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote….
It’s not exactly telling people to get out there and beat people with metal rods. But when your response to news that a couple of jackasses just invoked your name when they beat the crap out of a homeless guy is to salute your “passionate” followers who “love this country,” you’ve gone next-level.
Sally Kohn at CNN sees it, too:
Trump is explicitly playing into an us-versus-them narrative that is not only factually dumb but divisive and dangerous….
Trump is not only preying on, but feeding the xenophobic fears of mostly conservative white Americans who see immigration not as about economic realities but as a national threat — people who use rhetoric about “hordes” “swarming” the border, which is also the kind of talk that undermines any notion of humane immigration policy.
Something occurs to me and I wonder who else is noticing it. Go back up and re-read those quotes from Kohn and Taibbi: does that remind you of anyone? Haven’t we seen this evil – yes, evil – dynamic before?
Here it is: the nation’s people are dissatisfied and want to blame some scapegoat for their problems, so give them a scapegoat: illegal immigrants, in this case. Talk about denying the scapegoats citizenship (even if that means changing the Constitution, in this case). Promote the idea that they are a bunch of criminals, drug dealers, rapists… not just undesirable, but an actual threat to good citizens everywhere. Promote the idea of mass deportations. Imply that the nation isn’t great, but people want it to be great again, and you… and your ideas about how to handle these scapegoats… will make it great again.
Who is that? Need a hint? Change the phrase “illegal immigrant” to “Jews.” Who does it sound like now?
Yup. There are certainly a lot of differences between Trump and Hitler. Hitler was a far better speaker who rose from humble beginnings and had a long professional association with his political party, while Trump comes across as a spoiled, petulant-sounding oaf who some do not even accept as a “real” Republican. But there are some frightening parallels in which Trump reflects the very worst of Hitler’s politics of hate: scapegoating, fear-mongering, xenophobia, divisiveness, and even a sort of perverted nationalism in which he seriously suggests mass deportations for large numbers of “undesirables.”
Hitler went on to become Chancellor, and to follow through on his rhetoric. Would Trump?
Consider this: our government, with its overbearing Department of Homeland Security, increasingly militarized police forces, and an atmosphere of paranoia born of the 9/11 attacks and subsequent wars, would be just ripe to be abused by someone like Trump, and his focus on Hispanic immigrants would be entirely wrong from a national security standpoint. The irony is that most of our Hispanic immigrants contribute to this country, rather than wanting to destroy it as our real enemies do.
Dare we vote for Trump? I think not. Nor for any other hate- and fear-monger.