We give too much credit to #45 for the political predicament we find our selves in as we do little more than watch, amazed, at the policies / tactics being implemented by the Republican right, but #45 did not create this particular set of political circumstances. He has become the primary character, the fool to many or the id others love and many more dispise. Regardless, he is walking the path that has been paved for him, well worn by the steps of our collective history. A history full of myths, oppression, injustice, inequality, conflict, but overall a great deal of neglect. He may or may not be a true reflection of the American people, time will tell. How we got here, how much time is left and what we can do going forward will dictate our ultimate story.
The attached article found on the ALTERNET, by Conor Lynch, looks at some similarities of violent times in history, when “totalitarian dictators … (were able to) … foster resentment and hatred of certain groups, and eventually … crush dissent and opposition”. For support, he references the writings of Eric Fromm, “philosopher and psychoanalyst … (who) … attempted to explain the shocking spread of totalitarianism in his lifetime with his influential and urgent 1941 book, Escape from Freedom.”
As the policies of #45 and the right continue to target those of color and the defenseless, their actions quietly solidify power while simultaneously expanding the gross inequality within American society. Dissenters have variously been labeled as “enemies of the people” and #45 hasn’t missed this. A label with a provocative, “disturbing and violent history that has long been used by totalitarian dictators to foster resentment and hatred of certain groups, and eventually to crush dissent and opposition.” Today, that tactic is highly effective once again. It is as though #45 seems to be flawlessly following some totalitarian checklist, consequences be damned. There are signs and warnings everywhere. As an example, we need only remember when his senior adviser, Stephen Miller recently said, “the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” It is like these words are from the court of King Donald the first, not a president of the United States. Lynch says:
“Not long ago this kind of rhetoric would have provoked outrage from both sides of the aisle and widespread disapproval from the populace. But today, in our hyper-partisan political landscape, many Americans have instead cheered Trump and his administration’s increasingly dictatorial and undemocratic behavior. This invites the question of whether the American people will stand up to autocracy if and when it comes, and how much of the populace is actually prepared to give up its freedom and submit to a strongman.”
Whether the American people stand up is not really the issue. Whether the Democratic party, and particularly it’s left wing, find a way to stand up, is the real question, perhaps our only hope. We have all heard satirical comments targeting the feeble nature of the Democratic party. Things like: “organizing Democrats is like herding cats” or “I’m not part of any political party, I’m a Democrat”. All humor aside, these two cliches describe a real problem and, very probably, are a big part of why we are where we are today. If the Democratic party cannot rise above such descriptions, “We the People” are left basically defenseless and the clock is ticking. Referencing Hitler’s rise, but talking about America today, “Yale historian Timothy Snyder … recently said that we have ‘at most a year to defend the Republic’.” I hope he is not even close, but historically, it is true that totalitarian regimes have tended to move very fast and the current Republican party is moving as fast as they can on all fronts.
Today’s individualism, abundant in benefits, also has very real costs. As Fromm said “Growing individuation … means growing isolation, insecurity, and thereby growing doubt concerning one’s role in the universe, the meaning of one’s life, and with all that a growing feeling of one’s own powerlessness and insignificance as an individual.” During the 2016 election these feelings were voiced like mantras, across the nation, for anyone who would listen. Except for the Sanders campaign, the Democratic party (DNC) paid little head, ignored it or maybe was just deaf. Time after time, it seems to make attempts to reorganize, to find ways to expand or reconnect with it’s base. Most of these have been small, misdirected or just feeble. Over and over it’s followers gasp in frustration. Small victories, though transient at best serve as it’s only pacifiers. The fight for Obamacare and now the potential of losing it, rather than improving it, reeks symbolically. It often seems that any actual Democratic electoral progress, more often than not, may actually have resulted from Republican error, like the 2008 crash.
As Lynch says, “when these economic factors are combined with other factors, including the perceived dangers facing America (i.e., Islamic terrorism) — which are greatly inflated by the mass media and politicians — and cultural/social shifts over the past few decades, the victory of an authoritarian demagogue like Trump becomes less surprising (as does the fact that Trump supporters are more likely to display authoritarian personality traits).” Alternatives abound, but the will of the DNC to embrace any real change is hopeful at best. There is a very basic democratic way for the DNC to make progress reconnecting with it’s base and once again Lynch gives a suggestion from Fromm”
“Seventy-five years ago Fromm argued that to counteract this dangerous drive toward authoritarianism, it was necessary to ‘expand the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people, from the formal political to the economic sphere.’ Democracy, he continued, ‘will triumph over the forces of nihilism only if it can imbue people with a faith … in life and in truth, and in freedom as the active and spontaneous realization of the individual self’.”
The neo-liberal ties of the DNC to the power of the corporate world, along with it’s rigid form of capitalism, completely overshadow other gains it makes toward the principles of government of the people (and we must always remember corporations are not people). The DNC is simply afraid to let go of that perceived security, ignoring the fact that it is also the root of their bumbling conundrum. It is time for a fresh start, as Americans are showing they will try almost anything. “Like Bernie Sanders today, Fromm advocated democratic socialism and believed that only a truly democratic society — politically and economically — could stop the dark clouds of despotism.” I think America is ready. What people seem to be demanding is a different form of both democracy and capitalism. Possibly democratic socialism and collective capitalism where, in both cases, people come before corporations, wealth and power.