Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. He succeeded President Barack Obama on January 20, 2017. The presidency is Trump's first public office. Previously he was best known as a property developer and businessman who made his name synonymous with New York-sized hustle, money and ego, and for his starring role on the reality show The Apprentice
Here's how the cycle goes. First, Trump does something corrupt: He buys a woman's silence, covers up contacts with Russians, or fires investigators who try to find out what happened. Then, when subordinates disclose his corrupt acts, he says they're lying.
Then, when the subordinates present evidence to support their allegations-memos, phone calls, witnesses, financial records-Trump and Giuliani (Trump's lawyer) accuse them of treachery for collecting or releasing the evidence. In the upside-down logic of Trump and Giuliani, anyone who proves Trump is lying can't be trusted.
Everywhere you look, the evidence corroborates the president's accusers. That's why Trump and Giuliani are calling these people rats and leakers. It is not because Trump's accusers are lying. It is because they are telling the truth, and they have the goods to prove it. So, Americans cannot trust the president's word because he has lied too many times to remain credible.
Fascism always replaces the general principles on which the theories and practices of modern democracies are based-recognition of diversity of opinions, recourse to electoral procedures to determine a majority, guarantee of the rights of the minority, etc. with the opposed values of submission to the requirements of collective discipline and the authority of the supreme leader and his main agents. This reversal of values is then always accompanied by a return of backward-looking ideas, which are able to provide an apparent legitimacy to the procedures of submission that are implemented.
In his inaugural address, written by his alt-right advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, Trump declared, in what economist Joseph Stiglitz has called, "historical fascist overtones": "From this moment on, it's going to be America First…. And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again." The Trump administration is marked by an extraordinary attempt to bring the mainstream media in line with its neo-fascist objectives.
Trump has declared that he is in a running war with the media and that journalists are among the most dishonest people on earth. Barely a month into his presidency, Trump tweeted that the mainstream media "is the enemy of the American people." A part of the power of his administration lies in a largely compliant and ideologically right-wing Republican-dominated Congress.
What makes the rise of a neo-fascist White House of such great concern is the enormous weight of the US presidency, and the long-term breakdown in the separation of powers in the US Constitution. The undermining of the Congressional power to declare war, established in the Constitution, is well known. In the Trump vision of the restoration of US geopolitical and economic power, enemies are primarily designated in racial and religious terms.
A renewed emphasis is put on placing US boots on the ground in the Middle East and on naval confrontation with China in the South China Sea, where much of the world's new oil reserves are to be found, and which is China's main future surety of access to oil in the case of world conflict.
Because of Trump's hauteur and warfare aridity, the Korean peninsula has also become a hot-bed bedeviling grievous affrights to millions of people. The result of these attempts to institute a sudden shift in the geopolitical strategy of the United States has been not only a falling-out in the US ruling class between neoliberals and Trump-style neo-fascists, but also a struggle within the deep state, resulting in the leaks that brought down Flynn.
Trump's geopolitical strategy ultimately looks east toward China, taking the form of threatened protectionism combined with military posturing. The new administration immediately moved to set aside the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which appeared to be failing as an instrument for controlling China-preferring instead blunter methods, including a possible confrontation with China over the South China Sea.
A neo-fascist economic strategy would be a more extreme version of neoliberal austerity, backed by racism and war preparation. It would be aimed at liberating capital from regulation-giving free rein to monopoly-finance capital. This would be accompanied by more aggressive attempts to wield US power directly, on a more protectionist basis.
In the longer-run the economic contradictions of the system would remain, but the new economic nationalism would be aimed at making sure that in the context of global economic stagnation, the United States would seize a greater share of the global pie.
Nevertheless, an expansion of the war economy is fraught with dangers, and its stimulus effects on production are less potent than in the past. Now, in our own time, the old contest i.e. fascism versus the democratic resistance is there again.
Self-appointed super-patriots of the far right…croak their froglike voices to the tunes of a victory which, they would have us believe, is theirs: whereas, in fact, the truth is precisely the reverse. New national fronts clamber on the scene, no smaller or more stupid than the Nazis were when they began. Old equivocations are replaced by new equivocations, just as apparently respectable and proper as the old ones were.
And there is Trump, whose Twitter following of over 11million makes him a gatekeeper of a sort in his own free-will. His moment of truth may well come on some day; the odds are that he will lose. If he does so, however, he will probably claim that everything is rigged-thus undermining democracy yet further. Whatever comes up with next, with or without him in the White House, post-truth politics will be with the world for some time to come.
With Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff has defined the first phase of the Trump administration; now, in Siege, he has written an equally essential and explosive book about a presidency that is under fire from almost every side. A stunningly fresh narrative that begins just as Trump's first year as president is getting underway and ends with the delivery of the Mueller report, Siege reveals an administration that is perpetually beleaguered by investigations and a president who is increasingly volatile, erratic, and exposed.
Donald Trump must be one of the most widely and fiercely lampooned people of all time; indeed, his entire life can be seen as a one-man war of attrition against the forces of irony. His fortunes are not damaged by it. In fact, it is a war he keeps winning.
Trump has a lot of fragile pride, but no shame. His campaign for president invited what must have been the largest onslaught of parodies, sketches, punch lines, unflattering cartoons and disparaging limericks that has ever been unleashed against a single individual. It had zero effect.
In spite of it all, he managed to win. But they are all things to resist. Jack London reminds us these words, "There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What its nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I wanted to say was this: You are in a perilous position."
Trump's learning of American history must have stopped a long time ago. I wish I could say this is funny and not deeply disturbing. Perhaps his grasp of American history rather reflects his essential personality, which seems to be some combination of utter self-absorption, a lack of empathy, and a need to believe in or rely upon hyper individualism.
President Trump does seem to possess an instinct for the feelings, fears, resentments, and base level aspirations of many Americans who are displeased at best with the country and the kind of society that has developed over the past decades, especially since the civil rights and women's rights revolutions.
His effort has stoked a kind of 21st century racism that appeals to a vast audience of suburban and rural America that takes its information and its values from Fox News and its many media allies. To pull that off as a celebrity billionaire may say more about the culture and social values Americans have all participated in forging more than it says about him. Trump has political instinct but little in the way of political knowledge of either institutions or history.
The dirty truth is Trump can't be trusted. Most Americans also already has seen Trump as dishonest. In fact, since Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, a majority of Americans have always said that they don't believe Trump is honest or trustworthy. Today it is clear that the future order of society is in the grassroots, but the soil and sunlight are still up for grabs.
The writer is a senior citizen and writes on politics, political and human-centered figures, current and international affairs.
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