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« "And the Academy Award for Best Performance as President of the United States goes to...": Donald Trump at the Oscars. Scene 3 | Main | What horror awaited at the end of the branch line? »

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FDChief

At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, the same process occurs with all despots, including the most famous of them all. When he got bagged for leading a ridiculous rebellion and tossed in the sneezer a hell of a lot of Germans, including the opinion-makers and journos of the day - dismissed him as a ludicrous clown and marginal personality. It took a hell of a lot of propaganda and magical thinking and resentment and anger to make him into "The Leader". But he was the same guy. He just LOOKED more impressive surrounded by all those soldiers and stormtroopers and flags and uniforms...

What worries me about Trump is that We the People want to keep pretending that "democracy" is in our blood. That "it can't happen here". And so We are going to bust our collective asses trying to force this idiot into Washington's portrait. And he - shrewd conman that he is - knows that and will push us towards that conclusion.

El Jefe

FDChief,

Godwin it on up, I'll buy the next round :) And really **** Godwin, he was a right-winger himself who didn't like being reminded just who the reductio ad supressio nocturnum of his political inclinations was and resorted to the oldest cultural five-iron in the conservative bag, "it's not polite to say so."

And politesse matters a lot here. Sixty-two million Americans, give or take, is roughly one in every five Americans, not really a huge amount (given the higher-percentage turnout in '32-'33 the Nazis actually did as well or better in the last Weimar elections.) There are a chunk of that population who are sufficiently tribal-modern Republican that they are "Yellow Dog Goopers" in line with the old Southern line about what someone would be willing to vote for if it claimed it was a Democrat. (And they are often direct descendants of the same people, they've just changed the label on the tribalism.) THey will normalize the extreme version because they want the advantages American-style racism brings, they want the status they believe is rightfully theirs, they want to banish their fears and the pent-up anger of the more often than not dysfunctional family units they live in in the direction of Others, just not that extreme a version of it. Then there's the hard core -- a majority I'd guess but only a majority -- of that sixty-two million who are all in for the authoritarianism and ethnic cleansing, so long as they can enjoy it without having to do much of the work themselves. (There is however a core that FDChief in particular has described well, maybe a few hundred thousand, who would actually go to war for this stuff and they are the long-term problem. We can probably survive Trump and if he's been neutered enough by the GOP establishment (and their inside man Reince and the double-agent Pence) that they do things like throw twenty million people off health insurance and move towards voucherizing Social Security and all the cruelty they want to inflict there will be an electoral backlash in our favor as in the mid-Aughts. But when we're back in charge, in that scenario, and the hard-liners' Trumpian dream has failed, they have little left but to take up actual arms and that's going to make the Twenties very messy.)

The trouble is the "good German" instinct, which is different in practice than the way many on our side used the term in the Dubya years. The point of being a good German was not going "Hitler! Hitler! Rah rah rah!" every five minutes. It was trying to make these obscenely abnormal things fit into the living of an ordinary life, full of its own troubles and hassles and joys and routines, trying to find ways to be ordinary and regular in the face of unfathomably deviant horror. We've got a milder version -- it's a lazy, hapless, incompetent schoolyard bully's version of authoritarian terror -- but the instinct that in French is called attentisme which translates basically as "just getting along and getting by" is the threat. It's what Edmund Burke and Martin Luther King Jr. who quoted him understood. Evil happens not just when the good do nothing, but especially when the great mass of the ordinary do nothing. And treating the acts of that lazy, hapless, incompetent schoolyard bully authoritarian as subjects of theater criticism rather than critical analysis is a good way to get the ordinary to put their heads down and struggle on with their lives.

(PS: that's a beautiful line, the one about treating it as bad theater criticism. I would add, Lance, that one of the things I most enjoy about your work and always did about Roger Ebert's, is that it's assessment and analysis and meditation on the subjects in question -- even if they suck there's the forensic effort to understand why -- rather than "criticism" which more often than not I find to be not merely "critical" in the generic sense, but mostly the inside-baseball of frustrated script-writers rather than any thoughtful engagement with the ideas and substance of a piece of art or performance.)

Even though this is the wrong thread thanks for the thoughts on Boston. My oldest continuous friend, when she was working on her Master's at BU, did wait work at one of the pizza joints on Division so I got to know that neck of the woods whenever I visited.

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