I’ve been thinking some more about this election, and what’s really happening in terms of our system and our democracy.
It’s been a common theme on the left to decry the rise of Trump as the rise of fascism, which to some degree it is. Certainly, he’s followed the script left by fascist leaders of the past—tacit condoning of violence, oblique calls for the assassination of his opponent, scapegoating of minorities, and the use of the Big Lie technique of repeatedly lying until the lie becomes perceived by his followers as the truth, among others.
It’s an imperfect analogy, though. It’s missing legions of uniformed followers in colored shirts (the black shirt of the Italian fascists, the brown shirt of Hitler’s SA, the blue shirts of the Spanish Falange, etc.), as well as any coherent ideology. Even fascists usually believe in something, even if it's wrong.
I’m beginning to think it’s something even worse—the first stirrings of a transition from democracy to mob rule.
Democracy follows rules. Democracy requires people to abide by certain norms, and a written or unwritten constitution. Democracy requires a basic understanding of how government works.
Mob rule requires none of that.
Mob rule requires only that a big enough, angry enough mob seize the reins of power and impose its will on everybody else. Mob rule can be easily manipulated by someone authoritarian enough to promise to give the mob whatever they want, whatever the cost, the rules be damned.
Build a wall, kick out the Mexicans, keep the Muslims out. The enthusiastic support of the far-right, white-supremacist fringe should be a warning.
That's what we're seeing with the Trump campaign. That's what the Republican Party has allowed itself to be seduced by.
That's what must never be allowed to happen. Because it's a lot harder to step back from the precipice once you've gone over it.