On board the Trump Train? You should know the destination.
By Ashley Benkarski
“It could happen here.”
You’ve probably heard the saying many times and the impact may have lost its meaning.
But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Trump’s speech at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C. should be sounding the alarms of every freedom-loving person’s conscience within our nation’s borders.
Just 30 minutes into this hour-plus long diatribe, Trump called for the extrajudicial killing of “drug dealers,” once again suggested sending the National Guard into any state or city without a governor’s approval and advocated for the establishment of massive open-air tent cities for the homeless and mentally ill.
If you’re not familiar with the core tenets of fascism or, more specifically, palingenetic ultranationalism, you might miss the inherent threat this poses to not only racial minorities, the LGBTQI+ community and women, but to the working class, and especially the working poor, regardless of your identity.
To be clear, palingenetic ultranationalism is the core myth of fascism—That of a national rebirth (palingenesis), established in “The Nature of Fascism” by Roger Griffin.
Specifically, Trump called for a “renewal, revival, recovery, resurgence … Through strength we will restore our safety, through hard work we will rebuild our prosperity, through courage we will reclaim our liberty, through love we will repair our unity, through success we will rediscover our pride.”
We can connect the 14 points of fascism to Trump’s rhetoric last week, and throughout his time in the political realm. And while some have yet to pass, many are already in our mainstream consciousness.
In his speech, Trump sounds a host of dog whistles that underlie his agenda for the nation, with the overwhelming theme of Trump’s message one of an America in decay, littered with apocalyptic imagery: Crime is higher than ever before, our streets are unsafe with “roving mobs of thieves” and covered in used needles, courts aren’t prosecuting criminals and there is a clear attack on civilization itself.
To hear him tell it, Democrat-run cities are paragons of depravity; or, in his words, “cesspools of crime.”
“At home, our most basic rights and liberties are totally under siege. The American dream is being torn to shreds and we will not have a country left if this economic, social and attack on civilization itself is not quickly reversed,” he said.
“We are a nation that is hostile to liberty and freedom and faith. We are a nation whose economy is floundering, whose stores are not stocked, whose deliveries are not coming, and whose educational system is ranked at the bottom of every list…
“We’re a nation that has weaponized its law enforcement like never before, against the opposing political party … We’re a nation that no longer has a free and fair press. Fake news is all you get. And they are the true enemy of the people. We are a nation where free speech is no longer allowed, where crime is rampant like never before, where the economy has been collapsing, where more people died of COVID in 2021 than died in 2020.”
In this Democratic dystopia, police are defunded and powerless, “criminals have been given free reign,” and other countries “are emptying their jails into our cities.” Trump couches this idea in the broader, easier-to-swallow category of protecting public safety, but the data doesn’t support his claims.
According to Bloomberg News (Cities Say They Want to Defund the Police. Their Budgets Say Otherwise; bloomberg.com 1/12/2021), “Police budgets will expand this year even in cities like Atlanta, Omaha and Phoenix, where Democrats picked up more votes in the 2020 presidential race versus 2016 … Most of the 50 largest cities swung left since the 2016 presidential election, but more than half of them maintained or increased their police budgets.”
Trump called for “more police on the streets than ever before” and new legislation to “strengthen qualified immunity for police,” as well as a return to stop-and-frisk policies.
As far as the increase in violent crime rates, Trump chose stories of one-on-one, personal confrontations, and often with gruesome detail, while completely ignoring the increase in suicides and mass shooting deaths. He didn’t even mention Uvalde, nor Highland Park. And of course he didn’t mention that deaths by gun violence might have something to do with the fact that we live in a nation where the number of guns is greater than the American population.
He did, however, call for the National Guard to be sent to Chicago in response to its high rate of gun violence.
His goal for voting is also alarming. “[W]e want to ensure universal voter ID, but our goal should be same day voting with only paper ballots,” he said.
Horrifically, Trump called for “quick trials” and the death penalty for “drug dealers;” if you’re wondering how quick that trial would be, Trump suggested it should be two hours. Two. Hours.
And then, in yet another terrifying pivot, Trump set his sights on the homeless and the mentally ill.
“Perhaps some people will not like hearing this,” he warned, “but the only way you’re going to remove the hundreds of thousands of people, and maybe throughout our nation millions of people we’re talking about, and help make our cities clean, safe and beautiful again is open up large parcels of inexpensive land in the outer reaches of the cities. Bring medical professionals including doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, drug rehab specialists, build permanent bathrooms and other facilities. Make them good. Make them hard but build them fast and create thousands and thousands of high quality tents which can be done in one day. One day. You have to move people out.”
What does that sound like to you?
We put on each of these people the veneer of laziness, as unkempt masses who are drug-addled, mentally unstable and on the verge of committing violent acts. But the truth is, if you consider yourself upper middle-class, even you are merely one missed payment away from being homeless. And the majority of Americans fall into this category.
Booms and busts are a feature of our economic system, not a bug. And if you’re not pulling the strings, you’re not secure.
Perhaps the bigger question is, who is considered mentally ill in Trump’s eyes? It certainly includes the trans community and the Left, in so many words.
Seizing upon the disgusting talking point that the LGBTQI+ community are pedophiles, he said, “This is a hallmark of cultural and social decay against which we should fight back very hard and very soon … The sickos who are pushing sexual content in kindergartens or providing puberty blockers to young children who have no idea what a puberty blocker is – Neither do I by the way. Neither do most of the people in the audience … Let’s just say they’re not good – are not just engaged in acts of depravity. In many cases, they are breaking the law and they should be held fully accountable,” he railed.
Why does he say these things? Because a terrified populace is easy to conquer. For now, his voter base will do.
Fear of social change. Fear of the “other.” Fear over the economy. Fear of the government. Fear of a “stolen” election.
It divides us, as it’s meant to. But we can’t get distracted, and we mustn’t get discouraged.
Voting is the bare minimum of what’s required of us in these times. Now, more than ever, we have to organize in our communities. Create solidarity with your family, your neighbors, your friends, and your co-workers. Engage in mutual aid and help one another however you can. Start a community garden, get involved with like-minded grassroots organizations or organize a food and clothing drive and have conversations built around goodwill and your community’s needs.
Make those one-on-one connections and get invested in your community. Be there for each other, because we’re going to need one other, and probably sooner rather than later.