by Shelton Bumgarner
I don’t use the term “American Nazi” lightly in regards to Trump for a number of reasons. As I have mentioned elsewhere, there are three major reasons why it’s difficult for Trump to literally be an American Nazi. Those three reasons are his age, his general incompetence and his lack of an overall ideology.
Let’s go through these reasons one by one and talk about them.
Trump, at 72, is old. He’s so old that even if he made a run for it by getting his own version of Hitler’s Enabling Acts by way of an Mercer-funded Constitutional Convention that might give him God-only-knows what powers, he would, in real terms, be too old to fully use those powers. At this point, I’m more worried about him hobbling the Judiciary by cramming it with young, loony ultra-conservatives than I am him going full dictator and ignoring the Constitution. He could still try to pull it off one way or another, but he would face the other two issues.
The famous quip by Benjamin Wittes is that Trumpism is malevolence mitigated only by incompetence. Besides his weird ability to be an avatar for the surreal Right-wing of the Republican Party, Trump is actually really, really bad at his job. He’s horrible. He has no center, no morals and he’s easily swayed by flattery. He’s no Pat Buchanan, that’s for sure, for more than one reason. Trump was really lucky and the fate of the entire American Republic may rest on how completely incompetent Trump is, in real terms, when it comes to welding the reigns of power. But he’s getting better at it, so we find ourselves with the last thing that prevents Trump from going full Nazi.
His Lack Of Ideology
Trump is no Pat Buchanan. If Trump had an ideology outside of being an asshole and having a complete lack of empathy, he would have a real chance at destroying the American Constitutional System and turning the United States into a “managed democracy” like they have in Russia and Turkey. If Trump had some sort of core belief system he was willing to fight for, he would truly be a danger to the Republic. The really surreal aspect of all of this is had Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio won the nomination and won the election, the only thing that would have prevented them from doing the same damn things Trump is doing — outside of the weird fixation on immigration and a wall — is they would have abided by existing democratic norms. Trump is a outlier for lots of reasons and he’s stress testing the entire system because he’s just self-aware enough to be more than just your usual demagogue. But the fact that all he wants to do is win the moment, to “own the libs” at any one moment during any specific debate means he doesn’t have a political center to speak of. It’s difficult to go full-blown American Nazi if you don’t have an ideology beyond whatever you might have tweeted that morning.
Put those three things together and you come to several different conclusions. One, while Trump has all the makings of an American Nazi — and effectively is — in real terms, what he might be is a ominous precursor to the real thing. Trump is rattling the cage, destroying norms, using the Overton Window to fuck things up big time, but more likely than not, he’s the guy who will make the actual American Nazi president possible. Sad to say, the entire American Constitutional System is rotting away as we speak. The Founding Fathers could never have predicted that not only would the Legislative Branch completely put party over country, but in addition to that — in fact, because of it — the Judiciary would be eaten away by the cancer that had infected the Executive.
But I stand by my opinion that Trump is, in fact, an American Nazi. He is the closest approximation to one that the existing power structure is willing to permit. He is pushing the American political ship of state in to unprecedented waters and the consequences in the real term will be difficult for many — if not most — of us to process as they happen. In other words, Trump is a Nazi in spirit, if not literal ability to be one, and the whole Ivanka-is-Jewish thing is really just white noise. Trump is unlikely to attack Jewish directly for the time being — that would be a little bit too much on the nose — but he will go after the next best thing for domestic political expediency — immigrants. Once the infrastructure for Concentration Camps is in place on military bases across the country, God only knows who the Trump Administration will throw in there with immigrants who are a little too brown for its liking. My guess is the mentally ill because, they too, are a weak link in society that requires some compassion and empathy, two things Magaist lack completely.
I still can’t get over the fact that Magaists — some of them mothers and fathers! — have had little or no compassion for the children torn from their parents at the border. If that’s not an ominous sign that America’s very own fascist blight is now upon us, I don’t know what is. The complete dehumanization and lack of basic human empathy is the first step towards some pretty horrible things, at least in the past. I’m reluctant to suggest Trump would have the audacity to attempt to implement a “Final Solution” to the immigrant “problem” stranger things, as they say, have happened.
Having said all that, the next issue is what to do about it.
All I can say is — get mad and stay mad. I would cop-out and say meekly that all you can do is vote. But if anything has been learned from the on-going crisis associated with immigrant children being torn from their families at the border, it’s that really, the only thing the American Republic has going for it now is moral outrage. It’s easy to say that the immigrant children situation was unique in a lot of ways, but it did prove an unexpected point: Trump will actually back down if public opinion is aligned against him enough.
So, don’t just vote. Get enraged. Stay politically active. Use whatever personal political power you might have at your disposal to effect change. What happened with the children at the border has given me a little bit of hope. A tiny little bit of hope that maybe the American spirit is a little bit stronger than I had feared. It’s maybe possible that through sheer force of collective will, American citizens might save the nation through there own actions.
Having said that, I might suggest that we need an app of some sort to organize protests. Something that would facilitate regular massive protests across the country to allow people to take a stand, to hold the line. The next few years are going to be bumpy, no matter what happens, and an app is desperately needed to help The Resistance.
But honestly, I don’t know what happens next. We’re just going to have to keep the faith, if nothing else.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.