A Made in America Autocrat!

Dirty Donnie and the Brow Nosers
Senators Shamelessly Genuflect Before the Great Leader

It was nauseating watching the Republicans singing the praises of Fat Donald, assuming an embarrassing lips to posterior posture, while slapping themselves on the back for robbing the poor and showering the rich with even more money…making it rain bigtime for the super-rich plutocrats who own them, the billionaire donors who paid for the campaigns that put these pols in office. They are the new masters of Republican politics created by the Citizens United Decision of the US Supreme Court.

It was sad enough when we saw members of the cabinet cravenly kissing Trump’s rump in public, but this could be largely explained by the fact that their fate depends upon pleasing a vindictive president with a mercurial combustible temperament.  Yet for anyone who reveres the US Constitution, or just can’t stand suck ups, it was especially galling to witness members of the US Senate, a co-equal branch of government, the self-declared “greatest deliberative body in the world,” behave like lackeys in the Court of Ming the Merciless.

It was as if each Senator tried to outdo the other in crafting the most worshipful panegyric to the Great Leader.  They seemed terrified of the ever- present possibility of ritual crucifixion by the tweeting twit on Twitter, which could result in political death.  All one need to do in transcribing their remarks is substitute the salutation “Mr. President” with “Heil Hitler!” or “O Great Leader!” in order to recognize the dimensions of the crisis our democracy is presently facing from Donald Trump’s presidency. Sadly, congressional members of the GOP – Grand Opportunists Party – have entered into a Faustian bargain with an instable accidental President who the shrinks say is suffering from “Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia.” And who can say what the consequences will be?

The scene after the tax heist was, well, frightening, especially when one realizes that autocrats have been elected in other democratic societies to the enduring sorrow of its citizens. Most famously Weimar Germany, which was one of the freest and open democratic societies in the world, with a citizenry far better educated than the US electorate just now, when Hitler was elected. The foundations for a liberal enlightened German society such as Weimar had developed in Germany several decades before.

When the young Afro-American scholar WEB DuBois studied at the University of Berlin in the late 19th century, working on a PhD in economics, it was widely considered the world’s finest university. By the second decade of the 20th century Germany was publishing more books a year than any other country, which is evidence of widespread literacy.   And it was a leader in technology and Industry.

This was a society that had engaged in a protracted intergenerational debate about whether the soldier and statesman, or poet and philosopher represented the highest expression of citizenship. Whereas the billionaire business man is the most admired figure in America even if they are odious, stupid, amoral cretins.  Which does much to explain the ascendancy of Trump.

The Weimar Republic, which emerged in the aftermath of military defeat in the First World War spanning the years 1919-1933, represented a new expression of Democracy following the abdication of Wilhelm II, the last German Kaiser.  Weimar was a far freer and socially advanced society than the US was at the time. Weimar Germans were much more enlightened on race and gender issues, recreational use of drugs, and support for the arts. Afro-American Jazz music and dance – with its ethos of modernity and freedom performed at the “velocity of celebration” as Albert Murray called it – was in vogue, as is poignantly portrayed in the movie Swing Kids. This tolerant open-minded milieu is meticulously recreated in the brilliant Novel “Clifford’s Blues; by John A. Williams.

But as Edwin Black shows in his seminal book, “Hitler’s Debt to America,” white America’s Master Race theories, racist laws against black people and attitudes about euthanasia advocated by the US Eugenics movement were all adopted by the Third Reich that crushed the Weimar democracy. Alas, the twin disasters that befell Germany after World War I due to the war reparations imposed by the 1919 Versailles Treaty and the Wall street Crash of 1929, sparking a world -wide depression that created a sense of hopelessness among Germans, set the stage for the rise of Hitler.

Although white Americans love to portray Nazis as subhuman monsters who are the antithesis of themselves, after interviewing some of the top leaders placed on trial for war crimes at Nurnburg, the insightful Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt disagreed, she found them quite ordinary people, and coined the term “the banality of evil” to describe their behavior. Dr. Arendt outraged many Americans, and Jews everywhere, by concluding there was nothing uniquely evil about the Germans.

The problem, she concluded, was blind submission to authority and predicted that there are people we all know who are capable of running concentration camps if ordered to do so by our government.  It is evident that there are many such personality types among Trump’s followers, and like those who blindly followed Hitler, they cite emotional despair caused by economic anxieties as the reason for their allegiance.

Americans have been protected from the rise of an autocrat by our Constitution, which gives Congress the power to check the excesses of the President through legislation or impeachment.  But what happens if the Congress fails to use that power?  This is the question now being raised by serious people as Trump threatens to fire Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating whether members of the Trump campaign team collaborated with the Russians to steal the presidential election, which Trump has repeatedly called a hoax.

After Trump launched threats against128 foreign countries that voted against the US on Jerusalem, former CIA Director Robert O. Brennan remarked: “Trump expects blind loyalty and subservience from everyone—qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.”  One of the main characteristics of autocratic regimes are fawning flunkies who say things like the once proud Republican Senators were  Trump after the tax heist. Longtime Utah Senator Orin Hatch, said Trump might well be “The greatest president in history!”

This kind of sycophantic praise does not inspire confidence that the Republican controlled Congress will checkmate the power of a President who wishes to turn the FBI into his personal Gestapo and unleash them on his political adversaries; despises the free press; the independent judiciary and congressional opposition.  All the institutions that guard our democracy. In view of this reality, the thoughtful observer is compelled to wonder if the difference between Trump, Hitler and Kim Jung UN, has less to do with philosophy than opportunity.

*******************

Playthell G. Benjamin
January 6, 2018
1013 words

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: