Monday, December 18, 2023

Trump trashes U.S. democracy by quoting Putin, while borrowing from Hitler's "Mein Kampf" to denigrate immigrants for "poisoning the blood of our country"

Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump (The Times of Israel)

A number of articles have appeared in the press recently, essentially stating that Donald Trump is not serious about becoming a dictator if elected to a second term, or that even if Trump is serious, our system of checks and balances would not allow him to turn the U.S. democracy into an authoritarian government. (Here is an example from the conservative National Review magazine -- "A Reality Check on the Trump-as-Dictator Prophecies," by
Jim Geraghty. 

Trump did not do much to advance Geraghty's line of thinking during a campaign speech on Saturday in Durham, New Hampshire. The Washington Post covered the event under this primary headline: "Trump quotes Putin condemning American democracy, praises autocrat Orban." For good measure, here is the secondary headline on the piece: "Trump also called Jan. 6 defendants ‘hostages’ and again demonized immigrants as ‘poisoning the blood of our country’" The Post's Isaac Arnsdorf reports:

Republican polling leader Donald Trump approvingly quoted autocrats Vladimir Putin of Russia and Viktor Orban of Hungary, part of an ongoing effort to deflect from his criminal prosecutions and spin alarms about eroding democracy against President Biden.

His speech at a presidential campaign rally in Durham on Saturday also reprised dehumanizing language targeting immigrants that historians have likened to past authoritarians, including a reference that some civil-rights advocates and experts in extremism have compared to Adolf Hitler’s fixation on blood purity.

And he used the term “hostages” to describe people charged with violent crimes in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol.

The comments came as experts, historians and political opponents have voiced growing alarm about Trump’s rhetoric, ideas and emerging plans for a second term, pointing to parallels to past and present authoritarian leaders.

Here is how one expert viewed Trump's statements:

“Donald Trump sees American democracy as a sham and he wants to convince his followers to see it that way too,” said Jennifer Mercieca, a professor at Texas A&M University who researches democracy and rhetoric. “Putin hates western values like democracy and the rule of law, so does Trump.”

Trump proceeded to prove Professor Mercieca was on target, raising this question: Why would any American support a man who shares Vladimir Putin's hatred of democracy and the rule of law, which suggests Trump also despises the U.S. Constitution, from which those ideas spring? If anyone is such a hard-core MAGA believer that he supports a man who openly hates the principles of American democracy, would it be best for that would-be voter to find a cozy authoritarian country -- and move there in the next year or so? Why stay here and help bring down the world's strongest form of government for the rest of us?

The Post's Arnsdorf makes clear the extreme nature of Trump's language:

Trump quoted Putin, the dictatorial Russia president who invaded neighboring Ukraine, criticizing the criminal charges against Trump, who is accused in four separate cases of falsifying business records in a hush-money scheme, mishandling classified documents, and trying to overturn the 2020 election results. In the quotation, Putin agreed with Trump’s own attempts to portray the prosecutions as politically motivated.

“It shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy,” Trump quoted Putin saying in the speech. Trump added: “They’re all laughing at us.”

The notion that Trump could teach anyone about democracy, of course, is laughable -- given his announced plans to prosecute political opponents and members of the media, while supporting the execution of at least one U.S. military leader, and 'terminating" the constitution. Trump seems to think the presidency is designed for the position to act as an all-powerful prosecutor, based on his whims about perceived enemies and entities that displease him. It's unlikely that Richard Nixon, or any other president, even thought of these ideas, much less dreamed of carrying them out. How far outside the mainstream is Trump? Anyone who can top Richard Nixon in the area of criminality is off-the-charts radical. Unlike Trump, Nixon was an accomplished statesman and even helped move the nation forward on issues such as the environment.

Trump hardly sounds like a statesman in his speech Saturday as Arnsdorf reports:

He went on to align himself with Orban, the Hungarian prime minister who has amassed functionally autocratic power through controlling the media and changing the country’s constitution. Orban has presented his leadership as a model of an “illiberal” state and has opposed immigration for leading to “mixed race” Europeans. Democratic world leaders have sought to isolate Orban for eroding civil liberties and bolstering ties with Putin.

But Trump called him “highly respected” and welcomed his praise as “the man who can save the Western world.”

In the speech, Trump also repeated his own inflammatory language against undocumented immigrants, by accusing them of “poisoning the blood of our country” — a phrase that immigrant groups and civil-rights advocates have condemned as reminiscent of Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, in which he told Germans to “care for the purity of their own blood” by eliminating Jews.

The crowd of thousands in a college arena cheered Trump’s recitation of an anti-immigrant poem called “The Snake” that he has repeated on the campaign trail and popularized since the 2016 campaign.

And approaching the third anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Trump came to the defense of alleged violent offenders who have been detained awaiting trial on the order of judges.

“I don’t call them prisoners, I call them hostages,” he said. “They’re hostages.”

If an individual participates in a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, in an effort to overturn the results of a lawful election, Trump considers them a "hostage." That tells us all we need to know about Trump's lack of respect for the rule of law, befitting a  man who faces four criminal indictments. Trump's words drip with malignant narcissism and sociopathy, conditions that a number of mental-health experts say make him particularly dangerous

How did Democrats react to Trump's speech? Not well, Arnsdorf writes:

The speech drew renewed criticism from Democrats. “Donald Trump is campaigning on an extreme MAGA agenda that would rip away hard-won freedoms from Americans — it’s as simple as that,” Democratic National Committee press secretary Sarafina Chitika said in a statement. “If he takes power, Trump will waste no time implementing his dangerous vision for America.”

Trump’s speech began with an economic focus, with a new tagline of “Better off with Trump” and a recitation of statistics comparing affordability under his presidency to now. But Trump became more animated as he returned to his material on immigration and the charges against him.

In a move that experts said could have the effect of confusing voters about the true dangers to democracy, Trump has begun deflecting from reports that he would seek revenge on his critics in a second term, accusing Biden of acting like a dictator because of the prosecutions against Trump. Two of the cases were brought by local prosecutors, and the two federal cases are being handled by a special counsel acting independently of the White House in accordance with Justice Department rules

Without evidence, Trump has portrayed all four cases as a coordinated persecution against him because of his lead in primary and general-election polls. As he pushed that theme on Saturday, the slogan “BIDEN ATTACKS DEMOCRACY” flashed across the screen above him.

The speech ended with an instrumental track that Trump has continued using at rallies despite becoming associated with the QAnon online extremist movement.


No comments: