President Donald Trump learned a critical lesson from the trial in the Senate. This is not the one people like Senator Susan Collins believes he did. According to Collins the president now knows there is a limit to what he can do. He also learned that he should watch what he did. Then there is reality. The president proved this clearly the next morning. His hour-long victory lap was nothing short of what an authoritarian who seeks revenge would.
Then we saw the firing of people like Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, his brother Yevgeny and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. These were not the actions of a man who believes in democracy. Nor was he chastened at all, as some like Senator Collins claimed. We know that members of the senate, like Marco Rubio, believe the case was proven. Yet they would not vote to convict in a strange belief that this would be bad for the country.
It is clear that revenge is against the law, but what did President Donald Trump learn? Well, the same exact lesson he has over the rest of his life. His money, lawyers and other methods mean that he has yet to face real accountability for anything he has done in his life. Yes, he had to pay for Trump University, but it is not like it will break him. Overall, he is above the law, and that is the lesson he knows. It is the one reinforced by a Republican Party that is afraid of him.
There is a fact though, he has given them some of the things they want, such as tax cuts. The others are far-right judges that will remake the judiciary for decades to come. But he has also proven to be a vindictive one that will exact the blood of those who dare oppose him. This is where Trump fits in a rising global far-right fascist movement. And having no consequences from the Senate has now given Trump the kind of leeway he wants or thinks he deserves.
None of this is new. If you read any of the editorial pages of major papers, you likely saw plenty of editorials in this vein. However, what you likely did not see is now global this is. Or that it is a new form of fascism. It has all the elements of the same movement that led to World War Two and the camps, which did not start at Treblinka. There were at least two decades that preceded that.
So here are some of the characteristics of this movement:
* An appeal to the mythic past: Make America Great Again is exactly this. The country, we are told, was better in a mythic past, that we need to return to.
* An appeal to the nation above all: These are by their very nature nationalist, and rejecting the idea of global institutions. Germany left the League of Nations, none should be surprised if the United States leaves the United Nations. He has already left a panoply of agreements and has threatened others.
* Increased religiosity. In Western nations, like the United States, this takes the Christian form. However, we see this in Israel as well, and Muslim nations. This is why the threat of a religious war is rising, as well as a decrease in secular freedoms. In the United States, the demand for prayer in school and the rejection of the separation of church and state is now too dangerous levels.
* Attacks on organized labor: If there is something that all fascist nations share is the utter fear of a labor force that has rights in the workplace. Why destroying Unions is not a bug, but a feature.
* A demand to a return to traditional values: This means women lose control over their bodies and in some cases a right to work outside the home.
* The Other: This again, is not a bug, but a feature. Xenophobia is rampant, as well as the fear that they are taking over the nation. Migratory bans are common, usually targeting the chosen enemy. In the case of the United States, Muslims and people from Latin America, mostly brown people.
* A shattering of legal norms: Need I mention the Trump administration and the recent Senate trial? While we were not expecting a different result, having so many Senators abdicate their responsibility should be a shock to the system.
* Militarism and cult of the soldier. We have seen this increase to ridiculous levels since 911. However, these days it is to the point that the president will use and abuse the troops, but refuse the care vets need.
None of this should be surprising. Nor am I the first one to point to this list. However, this is where we are. The November election could be a turnaround, but only if Americans decide that most of this needs rejecting. The problem is that we have also seen an increase in the use of targeted fear.
The president’s speeches, including his state of the union, are full of lies, innuendo, and are fear-inducing. This is not accidental. However, the media and cultural elites, including those in the Republican Party, still believe that they can control this. They can’t. And it is part-time for the press to use the word LIE, and to stop magnifying the message.
As to the Democrats, they should win in November, but they are still quite capable of shooting their feet, both of them. Why? They still do not understand the dynamics that led us to this point.
As to the RNC, good luck controlling the monster in your midst. The German Conservative party and the leaders of the industry believed they could with Hitler as well. We all know how that played out. We see the red light flashing warning lights already. Do you dare threaten the safety of members of your party who question the president? That is what happens in authoritarian societies.
However, some of the party are leaving, how deep this is, we probably will find out in November. Perhaps, we will get a new Conservative party out of this, and avoid the worst of this new fascist moment. After all, the GOP is the result of the disaffected members of the Whig party that went on and formed their own, the Grand Old Party. In this respect, we need history to repeat itself.
However, Trump is part of a global movement from a resurgent far-right. His is the end result of the last twenty years of American history. We saw the early warning signs during the George W Bush presidency and the formation of things like the Department of Homeland Security. So Trump is no accident or aberration, and the faster Americans recognize this, the better.