Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Let Us Not Forget Fascism: The Trump Phenomenon

Were it most anyone else, I wouldn't take it as seriously; it wouldn't jolt me. But Rick Perlstein is an accomplished, justifiably well-regarded student of recent American history*.

When he warns, in a well-argued piece, that Donald Trump is not like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan or even G.W. Bush, I want to know why. Likewise, when he says that by dropping the word "fascist," often used after World War II, from contemporary political parlance, we may be blinding ourselves to key aspects of the  Trump phenomenon.

Pearlstein wants to avoid — undue — alarmism, noting that, "it is hard to imagine a President Trump turning America into a one-party state. (Isn’t it?)"

But his conclusion is far from comforting:

"We want to think about Trump using our familiar categories, according to familiar norms, judging him by familiar rules. But what Donald Trump is all about is incinerating the existing rules––which are revealed as all too easy to incinerate. He breaks the system just by his manner of being. It’s humbling, because the system he breaks is the only one we know how to understand.

But with Trump, everything requires revision––for me as much as anyone else.

Rick Perlstein, "Donald Trump, American hustler: The frightening fascist tendencies of his GOP rise"

* His books are: "The Invisible Bridge," "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" and "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus."

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