By Jacob Clark
Throughout Trump’s unexpected ascension to the Republican presidential candidacy, he has been repeatedly called a fascist and equated to Hitler by those who rightly criticize him. As is often the case in today’s rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle, fascist and Hitler get thrown around a lot, often unfairly, as the ultimate way to discredit and demonize a political opponent. Those comparisons are so ubiquitous that they hardly mean anything anymore. Trump is obviously not Hitler nor is he a fascist, not to say that he is dissimilar. Trump is an entirely new phenomenon, unique to this particular moment in American history – which makes his rise to power all the more disturbing and unpredictable.
Hitler and fascism both had their place at a specific time and place in history and are both now thankfully dead; what Trump offers is frighteningly new and very much alive. Trump’s racism, xenophobia, and fundamental deficiency of common decency are combined with his inflated reality television brand which is nothing but a transparently thin facade masking an utterly vapid political vision and an insatiably power hungry narcissism.
Unlike Hitler who fervently believed in his self-destructive and genocidal plans for Germany and the world, I don’t think that Trump believes any of the vocal excrement that he spews out of his perpetually pursed lips, which is in no way an attempt to exonerate him. Trump doesn’t believe any of what he says because he has never believed in any of the plethoras of contradictory things he has said. He has never taken an actual position or had an actual idea or espoused a true policy; the only thing he really believes in and the primary thing he talks about is himself. The proof is in Trump’s RNC speech in which he talked about things getting done “so fast” and it was going to be “so big” and “so good” and [insert adjective here] because he is going to do it. Trump didn’t need to elaborate. He is the answer.
But Trump believing himself to be the best is not the dangerous thing about his presidential campaign. Trump’s mindless jabbering is the usual hot air escaping out of a pompous windbag. What makes Trump so dangerous and frightening is not the hollow man who likely doesn’t believe in anything he says but the voters he has provoked and enraged who zealously do believe in everything he says. Trump is nothing but a charlatan who in his current stab at political chicanery has found an angle in appealing to that predominantly older, white, rural, evangelical, working class section of the population that sees his macho vulgarian swagger and eats it up. Trump is an inflatable arm flailing tube man filled with the rage of the rabble, and now, with half of the country baited and incensed, it doesn’t matter if Trump is defeated in November because we as a nation are still going to have to contend with these angry, belligerent people from now on.
It appears as if the country could not be any more divided at this point without being locked in another civil war. The party conventions displayed two strikingly opposing visions of the country: one in which America was simultaneously heralded as the greatest country in history that was yet plagued with a devastating array of crippling and frightening problems that only one man can fix, and one in which America was lauded for its diversity and united in its goal of working together to improve what is already a great country for the benefit of every American. The gulf between these two worldviews is so wide that it threatens not more of the congressional impasse we’re all used to but the very real threat of all that anger and frustration boiling over into violence and chaos.
A few months ago, the nihilist in me was curious to see what a Trump presidency might be like. I thought his idiocy was humorous and I imagined four years of daily comedy to come post-November. Well, the joke is old now. After the RNC, I no longer find anything laughable in Trump. I don’t think he’ll win the election but I dread who will be the next Trump to take his place. The anger that exists now isn’t going to evaporate the moment Hillary is elected; if anything, it will only intensify. Although it was not exactly in the way he intended, Trump has had his desired effect on me: I’m terrified for the future of my country.
Jacob Clark studied English and Geography at UCLA before moving to Fresno in January of 2015. As a newcomer to Fresno, the city’s problems (and potential) have had a major impact on him, and he aspires to help in encouraging social and economic development that is sustainable, equitable, and, ultimately, livable. He lives in central Fresno with his girlfriend, cat, and two goldfish.