Donald Trump promises that Americans can tell who is to blame for America’s problems simply by looking at them. His retrospective slogan “Make America Great Again” is suspiciously relevant to race because past decades in America have not been particularly great for nonwhites.
Trump’s presidential platform centers on a few controversial planks. Donald Trump wants a ban on Muslims, he wants to build a physical wall to keep out Mexicans coupled with mass deportations, he wants “law & order” against Black Lives Matter amidst personally exaggerated racial divisions, and he wants to muzzle our citizenry’s freedom of expression. Trump’s America will not be democratic so much as it will be a nativist paradise of cultural segregation.
This sort of faux-populist demagoguery is destructive to everything on which America prides itself. Trump has no patience for the political ideals of equality, fraternity, tolerance, or freedom, and as such a Trump Presidency would be a step backwards on the long arc of political enlightenment.
Some Republicans, including notables such as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are likely holding out hope that Trump will not actually do what he says he’ll do if elected, but their persistence in endorsing Trump’s candidacy is political cowardice. Trump’s election would not simply be a short-term gain in partisan governmental power, it would be an unprecedented Constitutional crisis. Trump should take Khizr Khan’s copy of the Constitution and read it, but Ryan, McConnell, and every other American knows he won’t. The Constitution would likely not hold Trump’s attention for the minutes it would take him to read it anyway.
But the idea that Trump is saying offensive, unConstitutional things merely to be elected, and that he has no interest in actually following through on his totalitarian stump promises, will go down as the most destructive political bet in modern American history if he is elected. Fascism is a train powered by the illusion of political control, and Trump is much too egotistical to be leashed by the professional, conservative establishment politicians he has purposefully backstabbed throughout his primary campaign. And besides, Trump’s supporters are much too acclimated to the prospective tyrant Trump presidency to allow him to give up on his own nationalistic nativism now.
So let’s take Trump at his word. First, he’ll ban Muslims from entering the country, and he’ll register and monitor the Muslims already living here. Trump’s supporters ironically think this is a practical idea while they simultaneously are existentially opposed to any kind of registry or monitoring of gun owners. They believe a gun owner registry is an assault on liberty… cognitive dissonance is a favorite ignorance of fascism, and religious intolerance will be a fact of life in Trump’s America.
Will Trump actually build a physical wall across the US-Mexican border? It seems to me like that plan might be too complex with too many players and governmental hierarchies involved to accomplish the goal as simply as he claims he can, but Trump says he’ll do it. For enabling Trump, the Republican Party will have to own the Mexican Wall as long as it stands as a Republican beacon of bigotry.
Trump also wants to deport up to 11 million undocumented illegal immigrants living in America. This is a thorny issue, because many of these illegal immigrants are integrated into American society with mixed-citizenship families, and they are not about to volunteer to leave. So how might Trump deport them? Eleven million immigrants are a lot of people. Trump will have to develop a large paramilitary force to find them, process them, and transport them to the Mexican side of the border.
But what if these undocumented immigrants who don’t want to leave their families hide from Trump’s police and resist arrest? America’s law enforcement already has a persisting problem with concepts such as proportionality, accountability, and transparency, so how might Trump’s domestic paramilitary police enforce his nativist vision for a conspicuously white America? Like any apartheid-esque exclusion act, Trump’s xenophobia will likely get violent. It’s not like Trump’s paramilitary police will enter Mexican-American homes with smiles and be greeted by smiling illegal immigrant breadwinners hugging their smiling children for the last time. Wide-spread ethnic extradition has historically never been unaccompanied by hatred, violence, and murder.
At the Republican Convention Trump’s speech was in part a rush to brand himself as the “law & order candidate” in response to Trump’s own fear mongering. Given that Black Lives Matter is a continuation of the decades-long nonviolent struggle against obvious racial oppression, Trump may be the real threat to law & order since he seems to be suffering from—or perhaps just trying to exploit—a white-majority persecution complex. It’s another case of Trump family campaign plagiarism, only this time the literary crime is against Richard Nixon’s dog-whistle campaign of Silent Majority racism.
To top it all off, Trump wants to censor America’s free press like every other self-conscious apartheid regime. He has promised to stifle criticism with litigation, and has threatened to hit critics so hard that their “heads spin.” Yikes. Classic fascist move.
Donald Trump, with these unAmerican and unConstitutional promises, is a faux-populist demagogue profiting politically from bigotry. He may not actually commit to all this stuff, but his presidential campaign has promised throughout Election 2016 that he will.
Trump voters, and the Republican politicians who know better than to support such soulless demagoguery for the short-term political gain of stopping a third, consecutive Democratic presidential term are supporting an apartheid candidate.