Philosophically changing landscape.
Just before the election, President elect Donald Trump, published his intentions for his first 100 days in office. It is insular and sequestered towards his take on focused American interests. From building walls to encouraging non-renewable pollution builders like shale, oil, natural gas and coal, which will result in undermining climate rectification. Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a boon many would welcome, as alternative RCEP will be far more beneficial to the Australian economy.
Whatever your values on these intentions, what is emerging, is that since the election, he’s made statements that are at variance with the dialogue from his rallies and his initial plans. That “lies”, featured in Trump and Clinton’s campaign dialogue, has become par for the course for political bargaining with voters. This “post-truth” phenomena drew criticism that the Trump campaign countered with assertions that the media should not be ‘fact-checkers’. Since the election, building walls, the death of Obamacare, the mass deportation of illegal immigrants, and the demise of the Iran peace treaty are all being quickly watered down in Washington. At least Tony Abbott waited a few months before he instigated proposals to make cuts to education, cuts to health, change to pensions, increasing GST and cuts to the ABC and SBS. While the Senate foiled many of the LNP’s valiant efforts to break their promises, much of the public showed their willingness to ignore Abbott’s apparent about-face. But lies are a negotiation the public has struck with politics for decades. Unless one engages in extensive fact-checking and pragmatic reasoning, such lies remain unchallenged; and many can’t be bothered to do so.
Observations of Fascism.
Trump’s plans or renegotiations (or “lies”) are admittedly not standard Republican ideology. His thinking is hard to pin down, echoing sentiments from across the political spectrum. Trump is something else altogether. An interesting observation was made by an American teacher, which has landed her in hot water. She was teaching students about the parallels between the rise of Trump and German dictator Adolf Hitler. It’s an observation that has also been made by veteran Jewish Americans who fear the rise of a “new Hitler”.
Jobs and Growth.
Historical similarities & differences.
Like Trump, Hitler was not the popular candidate. Political machinations got Hitler into power, as he controlled the largest block of seats. For Trump, his path to power was winning the electoral college, not the popular vote. Both leaders lead a racist mass movement, along with being misogynistic and ultra-nationalistic, eliciting violent reactions from their attendees at national rallies. The difference in Hitler’s case was protesters who tried to shout him down, were ejected by Hitler’s army friends armed with rubber truncheons. Trump was not so organised, but his followers still ejected peaceful protesters, violently. Trump displays contempt for liberal democratic norms and has identified a class of people he is quite happy to direct blame for America’s failings. Muslims replace Jews as the preferred targets despite the unconstitutional nature of his desires. Hitler, equally, had contempt for the Weimar Republic Constitution which changed Germany from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy. The original Nazi party was filled with disenfranchised youth as a movement, whereas the Tea party Republican adherents found their primary support from older white men. Trump represents an avatar for their anger, marginalisation and resentment. In both points of history, the people had lost faith in the ability of their government to look after them. Coupled with a loss of confidence in the civil system, they sought a political option that came from outside the “system”.
Neither Hitler, not Trump spoke about exterminating the ethnic minority they were using as scapegoats, in their pre-election period. Hitler only talked about expelling Jews and removing their civil rights. Trump’s platform was to deport 2 million illegal immigrants, to eliminate birth right citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants and keeping Muslims out of America. There are differences worth considering here too. In the 1930’s data retention machines were primitive, but still, IBM rose to the challenge with a punch card sorting/cross indexing system to evaluate the census data to locate, identify and catalogue Jews. Without IBM’s help, the mass extermination of the Jews would have been logistically impossible. Today’s technology is streets ahead of anything IBM had then. IBM’s census collecting apparatus is so more sophisticated and accurate now, despite the issues Australia suffered via IBM on their last census. The American government with access to the NSA’s extensive data records on Americans – as Edward Snowden has revealed – can so quickly identify ethnic minorities.
Hitler promised to make Germany great and restore national pride. In echoes of Charles Lindbergh‘s “America First” isolationists rhetoric, Trump claimed, “I promise to make America great” and then spoke of isolating America. Hitler threatened and did persecute his political opponents, and Trump threatened to jail Hillary Clinton during public debates. He has since reneged on that, but his earlier rhetoric was worrying. Honesty among politicians in a “post-truth” era is unexpected, but even in Hitler’s time, a former finance minister described Hitler as thoroughly untruthful. Washington Post gave Trump 3.4 “Pinocchios” (as compared to Hillary Clinton getting 2.2), and noted of the 92 Trump statements that were fact checked, only 11 were found to fall into the category of mostly true or neutral. Attitudes towards women by both Hitler and Trump were quite simply appalling and deeply misogynistic. Hitler and Mussolini declared themselves as opposed to feminism, while Hitler’s predominant offence was in objectifying women for reproductive purposes. As for Trump’s Billy Bush conversation, I am opposed to giving that any more oxygen than it already, by linking to it here. If perchance you don’t know to what I refer, then all I can say is, “Welcome back, I trust that your absence from civilisation over the last few months has not been unduly traumatic”.
The results of Fascism take time.
Under Hitler, unemployment figures began to drop. Public work schemes were introduced, and the German Labour Front was set up to “protect” workers. Measures to ensure the leisure time of the work force was entrenched. It was a good month after he was “elected” in 1933 before Hitler began suspending several constitutional protections on civil rights. Jews didn’t lose their citizenship until 1935; about the same time conscription was brought in. Government income increased to ℛℳ15 billion Reichsmarks by 1939 (from ℛℳ10B in 1928) but then spending increased too. The invasion of Poland didn’t occur till 1939. Hitler had been in “legitimate” power for seven years by then. If Trump stays in power for two terms, he will have eight years to bring to fruition what he desires and the fact that four of the last five presidents served a full eight years is not encouraging. If you hold to the belief that Trump isn’t intimately aware of Hitler’s strategies, then you don’t want to read this.