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Oct 23, 2016

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Oliver Steinberg

Trump can also be understood as a power-hungry and -publicity-seeking bully--the prototype of a fascist dictator. Although inarticulate, he fills the role of a demagogue appealing to status-threatened elements of the populace with the time-honored American formula of nativist prejudice and racial bigotry, in the tradition of the Know-Nothing party, the KKK, George Wallace. Combining conspiracy accusations against supposed powerful elites with scapegoating diatribes against some identifiable "others," he fits in the pattern of right-wing extremism in America, as described by Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab in their 1970 book, "The Politics of Unreason." It's Trump's good fortune that Fox News and the corporate-sponsored neo-fascist radio propagandists like Limbaugh have spent 30 years dictating the terms of what passes for political discourse in this country. And that, as this analyst explains, the Democrats have not realized what they were up against! Everything about this year's campaign scares me. Trump, practically a parody of a greedy, self-centered, racist, sexist, impulse-driven billionaire, claiming the role of leader of the (white) working class and the moralistic Christian fundamentalists . . . and succeeding at it! His slogan: "Make America Great Again." Clinton's slogan: "It's my turn." In propaganda terms, do you have any doubt which is more likely to succeed? I hope that Ms. Clinton can somehow squeeze out a victory, instead of ending up as the Thomas Dewey of our era. There is way too much over-confidence amongst my DFL friends, and in the on-line chatter. Another point this analyst makes is that even if Trump is beaten in this election, he and his followers will remain a destabilizing threat to democracy. A more skillful and less obnoxious would-be tyrant may well emerge. Whether the sinister Putin is behind the Trump phenomenon is unlikely--I think he's merely exploiting the opening. Trump is just replicating in America the rise of the ultra-rightists and neo-Nazis in European nations feeling threatened by Muslim and other foreign immigrants. And in America, the soil for such movements is even more fertile than in most of Europe. Maybe American liberals should read history. This looks like 1933 in Germany to me; reminding me of the description I heard years ago from Professor George Mosse about how the Nazis managed to subvert and demolish German democracy.

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  • All of the statements, opinions, and views expressed on this site by Sally Jo Sorensen are solely her own, save when she attributes them to other sources.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.

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