The United States is a strange old country. I suspect it’s a bit strange for Americans looking at the place from within. I am fairly certain that it’s an even stranger place for those of us from other parts of the world, looking in from the outside. There’s a lot to love about the US. There’s a lot to be grateful for. There’s also a lot of pretty weird stuff that goes on.
There’s far too much religious extremism – the sort of stuff we would normally associate with either the Middle East or our own Medieval period. There’s some pretty shameful stuff that goes on, but that’s par for the course and something all countries have in common. There’s some pretty despicable stuff too. And then there’s Donald Trump.
It’s tough, but I’ve tried to view some of the main talking points of Trump supporters objectively. It’s tough, because Trump represents everything bad about the US to an outsider. A braggart, self centred, a bully, socially irresponsible and a role model for the worst side of the corporate world. These, needless to say, are just for starters, and on the milder side of his many faults.
I’ve tried to listen. But thus far, the talking points are difficult to take seriously. They are mostly a collection of conspiracy theories, gross exaggerations, outright lies and an almost endearing degree of self delusion. The scale of the catalogue of clear and demonstrable lies and self contradictions that Mr Trump has created do not deter the faithful from their support of his spoken word. They’ll forgive him anything, on the simple basis that he is not ‘establishment’ and they are fed up of the ‘status quo’. Sure. Those are great reasons. But not good enough. Not even close. Hitler met those qualifications just fine.
I know. I just went and brought Hitler into this. So soon, too. Trump isn’t likely to be the new Hitler, one hopes, but that probably has more to do with this being the US in the 2010s rather than Germany in the 1930s. But while we’re on the subject of the fuhrer, allow me to bring up one of the great questions of the 20th century. How did Hitler manage to take over Germany? What on earth were people thinking when they voted for a self declared messiah who advocated mass torture and imprisonment, war crimes, racial profiling, the singling out of a single religious group to be tracked, banned and assassinated, demeaned disability, closed down religious centres and defaulted on debt.
A man who has close ties to white supremicists, who is a white supremicist, who spread patently false information about groups of people he disliked, who harrassed political opponents through incitement of violence and the threat of imprisonment, who wanted to place limits on the press, who praised the violence of his own supporters, who lied repeatedly, who made clear his intention to plunder the resources of foreign lands through use of military force, mass deportation, dodgy deals with the Russians, inventing far fetched conspiracy theories of his own…oh the list goes on.
The majority of the list is, of course, not simply the contents of Mein Kampf, but is also Donald Trump’s manifesto. We know this, because he has been quite explicit. There are differences between the two, of course. For example, Trump is a sex offender – his ex wife swore under oath that he raped her. He has made clear that he does not really think much of women beyond their ability to felate, fornicate and cook up dinner.
When a person votes for Trump, they endorse all of those things. All of them. They are ok with torture, racism, sectarianism, war crimes, misogyny. The lot. Don’t kid yourself otherwise. If he gets elected, he has a clear mandate on all of it, and those who voted for him, gave it to him. They planted their flag right next to his. I can deal with differences of opinion, and I have many friends who lean in a different direction to me politically and I respect their views.
But Trump goes beyond a mere difference of opinion. I personally would find it difficult not only to respect the views of a Trump supporter, but to respect them as a person. That’s a really tough statement to make, I know. But when they voted Trump, they made their own statement. See above. Rational humans allocate respect, trust and credibility according to the behaviour and beliefs of others. And I am, I think, rational.
To go back to the question as to how someone like Hitler could come to power. The question is being asked again next week, and Trump voters have the answer. Or, more aptly, are the answer.
We know exactly what sort of person Trump is. The next question is, what sort of person are you?