When I first saw the image on the right of Donald Trump, our newly elected President of the United States, it immediately brought to my mind the striking portrait by Arnold Newman of industrialist Alfried Krupp, who oversaw German factories during World war II that were largely worked by slave labor from concentration camps. The devilish image of the millionaire industrialist, taken in 1963, has long haunted my increasing concern for rising fascism in the United States.
The Trump election just concluded is not a victory of populism over elitism, as the Trump team has portrayed. It is a victory of ignorance, fear, intolerance, xenophobia and nationalism over rationalism, critical thinking, and engagement in democracy and community.
The Trump campaign has mobilized millions of people who feel disenfranchised from the political and economic processes. The Great American Dream has become a nightmare for many, and recent politicians have done nothing to engage the people of this country nor even acknowledge their needs and fears. As Greg Palast has noted, we have The Best Government Money Can Buy, and with a political system dominated by corporate funding, only those who support the economic status quo are allowed entry into the process in any meaningful way.
Does Donald Trump’s election mean that fascism has triumphed in the United States? It remains to be seen if candidate Trump will continue unmodified as President Trump. It remains to be seen if the United States’ system of checks and balances has survived recent Neocon attempts to strengthen the independent role of the President. It remains to be seen how millions who voted for Trump will respond to the reality of President Trump. It remains to be seen how millions who voted against Trump will respond to the challenge of a fascist insurrection.
There is some of candidate Trump’s rhetoric that I agree with: abandoning global trade agreements, tighter controls on immigration, cooperative relationships with other countries, abandonment of US imperialism, global economic hegemony. These positive propositions are seemingly at odds with Trumps overt xenophobia, misogyny and intolerance, so it’s difficult to reconcile his bombastic public appearance with any rational government foreign policy.
But then, the government is much more than its titular leader, and the proof will be in Trump’s selection of cabinet and informal advisors. Judging by the ghosts of politics past hovering about the President-elect’s flamboyant hairdo, the future looks grim indeed.
Trump had it right that the election was rigged, probably because he has the receipts. Trump represents a Neocon victory far greater than that of George W. Bush, in that it is a victory of one Neocon darling over another. The fix was in on both sides of the ballot; the outcome was preordaned.
Krupp’s fascism was destroyed in the ashes of World War II. Whether or not it rises Phoenix-like in the new guise of President Donald Trump depends on the engagement of the people of the United States in the day to day political process of Democracy.
“Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.” Aldous Huxley