Monday, July 11, 2016

The undemocratic remedies for Trump whose names Jon Chait dares not speak

The thing to remember is that if The Donald wins he and the Congressional Republicans get to split their differences and the Democrats get crushed.

In return for his leading agenda items concerning ending immigration and abolishing free trade he has already given the conservatives control of his nominations for the Supreme Court and would likely have to make concessions on things like Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare.

Probably, goodbye EPA and, maybe, goodbye Department of Education.

Expect other concessions to the Republican urge to abolish Big Government.

He is already on board for a massive shift in the tax burden from the top to the bottom.

He is already on board for the decades old Republican strategy of running up massive debt rather than rejecting tax cuts unmatched with spending cuts.

He opposes non-proliferation, NATO, and the global alliance system on which is predicated US security.

But all that stuff isn't the whole story.

There is also Trump's insistence on mass deportation of some eleven million people already here illegally, a suggestion of amazing cruelty.

There is his relentless praise of torture and his insistence on targeting the families of Jihaders and terrorists.

And there are those alarming if uncertain reports about his reading habits (the Hitler speeches), his express admiration for thug rulers and lawless methods of rule, and his Mussolini style.

For all of these, the media never stop branding him with the Swastika and their favored photos of him fit that narrative quite well, like this one at the top of a New York magazine article by Jonathan Chait.

Indeed, the entire article, How Hitler’s Rise to Power Explains Why Republicans Accept Donald Trump, relies shamelessly on smear, a fact to which Chait nearly confesses with this admission that the analogy is false.

To be perfectly clear, Trump is not Hitler or a Nazi. 

Trump’s racism is not of the genocidal variety, and he is committed neither to a program of Darwinian racial conquest nor the principled imposition of one-party rule. 

The allegation of racism, though more than plausible, is actually based on little more than the opposite of what used to be called "charitable interpretation" in dealing with his public speech, or surmise to explain his willingness to mercilessly purge those 11 million people, it should be said.

But this is the main reason any analogy between Trump and Hitler is a grotesque smear.

As Chait admits, there are in Trump's agenda no genocide, no program of racial conquest, and no more commitment to "principled imposition of one-party rule" than is to be found in the program of anybody else who competed for the nomination of either major party this year.

And those facts alone totally delegitimate labeling Trump a Nazi.

Chait completes his all too fleeting concessions to truth and reality with this grudging and even shamefully twisted admission, entirely in keeping with such a hatchet-job.

If President Trump does start a world war, it would probably be as a result of blundering rather than a long-term master plan. 

If President Trump starts a world war? Really?

I agree one might argue he is more likely to do such a thing than Hillary, but Chait has not even raised the question before this sentence and will not again after it.

And probably not owing to a long-term master plan? Really?

Anyway, so, given Chait's brief and grudging admissions, is Trump really a fascist, then? No.

Is he a Nazi? No, not by a hell of a long ways.

And that Swastika people like Chait keep trying to stick on his forehead?


Nevertheless, the remainder and indeed the bulk of Chait's piece is an incoherent history lesson comparing the rise of Trump with the rise of Hitler.

A history lesson in which German conservatives are said to have disbelieved the worst about Hitler and seen him "as Trump," though this claim is "supported" with quotes from Germans of the right who saw and favored Hitler precisely as a destroyer of the Weimar Republic and contradicted by Chait's claim that conservatives thought they could prevent him doing his worst.

And finally a history lesson that crucially forgets that Hitler was given the job as Chancellor because the Nazis had just won an election in 1932 and, though not a majority, had become the largest party in the Reichstag.

Democratic legitimacy argued the leader of the leading party had to be offered the job, similar in nature to that of a Prime Minister in any parliamentary government, though neither the law nor the constitution outright required it.

And in comparison, as for the Republicans giving Trump their nomination, again, neither the law nor the constitution requires it.

But the democratic requirement to do it is all the more imperative as Trump's victory, in a competition that did not have to be democratic at all but is so because party rules make it so, was so utterly overwhelming.

And has it not been the near unanimous view of the commentariat of both the left and the right that though the laws, the constitution, and even the party rules allow it, neither the Democratic nor the Republican conventions may defy their primary voters and hand the nomination to anyone but their respective democratic front runners?

Has it not equally been the dominant view of the commentariat of both left and right that their respective processes of selecting a party nominee need to be made more democratic and not less so by the leaders of both major parties?

Yet this does not prevent Chait all but explicitly portraying both Hindenburg's selection of Hitler for Reichskanzler and the impending Republican nomination of Trump as equivalent, frightful mistakes.

On the whole, the article is so muddled that the reader comes away wondering exactly what is the threat in Trump's case.

Chait reports correctly that conservatives did not believe at the time that, once given the Chancellorship, Hitler would, or would be able to, promptly impose a dictatorship of his party, his movement, his ideology, and himself personally.

That was the threat Hitler posed and they were wrong about it.

But Chait has already conceded neither Trump nor his supporters share any remotely similar aspirations.

So what, exactly, is the threat the Republicans might be today wrongly underestimating?

This is all the help we get with that question.

Through Election Day, a Trump presidency will be a mere hypothetical. Afterward, if it happens, the reality will descend all at once.

That reality is stark. 

Trump’s admiration for ironfisted dictators, not only in Ba'athist Iraq but Russia, China, and North Korea, is the ideological lodestar of his long history of political musings. 

Over the years, Trump has weaved left and right on health care, abortion, taxes, and even the issues currently central to his campaign, like immigration and trade, but has never wavered from his foundational belief that strong leaders are those who crush their enemies without restraint. 

Whatever norms or bounds that we think limit the damage a president could inflict are likely to be exceeded if that president is Trump. 

Those Republicans who publicly endorse Trump because he probably won’t win may be making an error on a historic scale.

Shouldn't a member of the journo fraternity, of the paid political commentariat, like Chait be able to do a better job putting some meat on this barely skeletal threat than I have done here and in others of my many posts on the man and the menace of his contempt for normal republican governance?

But assuredly he has not.

And what exactly does Chait want from the Republicans, anyway?

According to him, the mistake of the German conservatives was in not defying the informal but nevertheless real requirements of democratic legitimacy by refusing Hitler the Chancellorship.

So what is the mistake today's Republicans are committing or about to commit regarding Trump that he wants them not to make?

He says their mistake is endorsing his candidacy for the presidency.

But his fraught analogy between the Republicans on the one side and Hindenburg and the German conservatives on the other surely means their comparable error would be nominating him in Cleveland rather than egregiously, even shockingly, defying democratic legitimacy in order to give the nomination to some normal Republican.

But Chait does not dare to say so.

Much less does he dare to recall that, as the choice of Chancellor was constitutionally not the voters' but President Hindenburg's, the choice of our president is not the Republican Party's nor even the American voters', but belongs exclusively and without let or hindrance to the Electors of our Electoral College.

He is pretty clear Hindenburg should have refused the job to Hitler.

Should the Electors, if the case arises, refuse the presidency to Donald Trump?

Perish the thought.

Chait dares not defy the dogma of democratic legitimacy even enough to advise Cleveland to nominate someone else.

No one in America dares suggest the Electors save us from the voters' choice.

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