His dais is so high, he towers over the millions of devotees sending up a vocal tsunami of loving cheers. Behind him his face is projected, his squinting eyes and puckered lips are ten stories tall, the face of a giant, stern God that rotates slowly from side to side. He wears a tan military coat with a purple sash covered in ribbons and medals that glint in the sunlight. At the perimeter of the throng, military personal stand at attention in lines as straight as razor blades, interspersed with huge tanks and missiles. Finally, he holds out his arms and almost immediately, the massive crowd goes silent. He slowly lowers his arms and leans forward.
“I have made America great again.”
The roar is deafening.
Yes, Donald Trump is the fascist strongman the Far Right in America longs for with a passion. He is the autocratic father, the figurehead of strength and fearlessness that a weak and listless country needs to raise it up from a socialist nanny state to a broad shouldered warrior for freedom. The Donald does not discuss issues, he makes proclamations and issues edicts. Debating facts is for whiny losers. The world he believes in is all that matters, and it is a paternalistic, white, capitalist game board where he sets the rules and if you don’t like it, you can shut the fuck up or his goons will beat the crap out of you.
When considered in the light of the strongman, Trump’s appeal makes more sense to me. Ultra conservatives are drawn to fascism. Extreme Christianity meets politics in this worldview, where the chosen father (God, Christ, Hitler, Jim Jones) is given supreme power to wisely and steadfastly lead the faithful to victory. Charismatic, articulate and absolutely sure of himself, the strongman pulls you into supporting his vision of the world through the power of his will and unwavering certainty. To a believer, it almost doesn’t matter what the strongman says. His words are on another realm hovering above mere logic, rationality and even common sense. The very fact that the liberal media, the elites and the establishment revile him so much only serves to strengthen the resolve of his followers who know that he is here to save us from ourselves. Persecution only strengthens the cause.
In the evil world of the godless, reality-based secularists, Trump is a narcissistic, egomaniacal blowhard who would be restrained in a straightjacket in more rational times, but to his believers, those are his attributes. Jim Jones, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, David Koresh, Charles Manson — they all combined a mixture of characteristics that drew people to them in a way that defied all logic, and that from the outside looking in, you would be able to see the horror of it all like a car accident unfolding in slow motion you could do nothing about.
Donald Trump is not a brave man. He used a number of deferments to avoid going to Vietnam. Donald Trump is certainly not a smart man nor is he a man that historically has shown any concern for the plight of the less fortunate Americans he wants to preside over, but he does know his flock, and he can play to it like a perfectly tuned instrument.
Could Trump be America’s first strongman, a President willing to blatantly and openly defy the Constitution and the rule of law? As frightening as that sounds, in this day of overt gerrymandering, hackable voting machines, terrorist paranoia and the influence of money in politics, it seems alarmingly possible, although I can’t go so far as to say probable. Not yet, anyway.