Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Last Trump

Uri Avnery                       Gush Shalom                          5 March 2016

The Americans are capable of many things. From time to time they indulge in a spell of collective insanity. Take Joe McCarthy. But not this! This is too much. Donald Trump is well on his way to the White House.

Wait, I am told. These are still only the primaries. OK, something odd has happened to the Republican Party. But on election day, faced with the real choice, the vast majority of Americans will return to sanity and vote for his opponent, whoever he or she is. I thought so, too. Not anymore. Now I just don't know.

DEMOCRACY, Winston Churchill is said to have said, is the worst political system - except for all the others.

One of the faults of democracy is that it is based on a contradiction. The capacity to win a democratic election and the ability to lead a country are very different, and often contradictory, talents. There are candidates who are sheer geniuses at winning elections. Once elected, they have not the slightest idea what to do next.

There are candidates who are born statesmen or women, endowed with wisdom and intuition, but have not the slightest chance of ever being elected. Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson was once told that all the intelligent people were going to vote for him. "But I need a majority," he quipped. And then, of course, there are the very, very few who are born leaders, who can both be elected and, once elected, lead their country with a sure hand. Churchill, again. [?]

TRUMP, IT seems to me, is of the first kind. Those who have a knack of appealing to the masses, but whose ability to lead a world power is in severe doubt. More than that – I believe that he is a very dangerous person.

 In the beginning, he looked like a clown. People discounted him. It was assumed that he would play around for a little bit, and then he would disappear. Those who said so have themselves now disappeared. Then he looked like an unprincipled opportunist, a person who would say at any moment whatever entered his head, even if it was the opposite of what he had said the day before. Not serious. A fool. Unelectable.

 Not any more. The Trump we see now is a very shrewd campaigner, a winner, a candidate who has an uncanny talent to channel the misgivings, resentments, anger and bitterness of the lower class of whites, who feel that their country is being taken away from them by corrupt politicians, blacks, hispanos and other riffraff.

WAIT! WHAT does the last sentence remind us of? Of a person who also began by looking like a clown, then developed into a shrewd campaigner, promised to make his country great again, made a career out of the resentment against minorities (Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, foreigners and the disabled), who said all the things his rivals were afraid to utter – and who brought untold misery to his country and the entire world. No names, please. Look at Trump. The total self-confidence of the Leader. The cult of brutal power. The unbridled nationalism. The incitement against minorities. The contempt for the political establishment (of both parties).

Since fascists claim to glorify their own nation as against all other nations, it could have been assumed that the fascists of different nations are enemies of each other. But in practice there is such a thing as a fascist international. Fact: the French fascist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been thrown out of his party's leadership by his own daughter because of his unbridled extremism (and anti-Semitism), has congratulated Trump, and so has the former leader of the American racist Ku-Klux-Klan. Trump has disavowed neither. Indeed, when he was caught quoting a line much beloved by Benito Mussolini ("Better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep") Trump did not apologize.

In this light one must judge Trump's attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On first sight, it looks refreshing. All the other candidates of both parties grovel before Binyamin Netanyahu in abject submission, begging for handouts from the divers Sheldon Adelsons. Trump does not need the Jewish money. So he says the sensible thing: that he wants to remain neutral in order that as President he will be able to act as a neutral.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a trump is not only a card of the suit which ranks above others, but also a deafening sound. "The Last Trump" is the trumpet blast that will wake the dead on Judgment Day. Let's hope American voters wake up before that. [Abridged – this is less than half of the article.]


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