I don’t recognize the United States anymore. Or rather, I do not recognize the US government. That’s not to say this form of government is unfamiliar. You can certainly find it in the history books, autocratic and plutocratic societies around the world. It’s just not something we’re accustomed to here. I don’t mean to imply our democracy is dead, but you can certainly see it unraveling into a regime change that will result in a form of authoritarianism if something is not done to stop it.
It’s fascinating to hear people say, “Trump’s not a fascist” or “he’s not trying to be a dictator.” Instead they say he’s just “new to political life” and doesn’t “know the rules,” as if that somehow excuses his actions. While I agree he probably doesn’t know the rules because he cares not what the rules are, I also wholeheartedly believe that even if he did know them, he would not think they apply to him. On another level, I don’t think that Trump isn’t “trying” to be a dictator, in spite of his fondness for authoritarians the world over, because I don’t believe he is smart enough nor does he have the foresight or attention span to intentionally and systematically plunge our country into an authoritarian dictatorship. However, that DOES NOT mean that he can’t or won’t. Trump is a selfish, power-hungry narcissist, the likes of which we’ve never encountered in the office of the presidency. He has no impulse control, a total lack of empathy, zero emotional maturity, and an absolute disregard for the rule of law. So although he may not be “trying” to assert himself as the first dictator in America, that doesn’t mean that’s not exactly what he’ll become, especially with a congressional majority that is not willing to stand up for the American people. After all, the Rule of Law and Checks and Balances only work if there are people in positions of power who are willing to enforce them. That is something we are sorely lacking at this point in time.
America has always been a democracy of the people, by the people, for the people. But don’t think for a second that we are immune to the infection that is authoritarianism. Just because we think it can’t happen here doesn’t mean it won’t. In all actuality, it is the fact that we think it can’t happen here that makes us most vulnerable to it. History tells us it is absolutely possible. More than that, history shows us patterns from which we can deduce our own judgments. History gives of the gift of knowing what can happen, so that we don’t make the same mistakes. But history only matters if we give it the respect it deserves. It only matters if we see the patterns of history and intervene in such a way that stops it from repeating itself. So I ask the party in power: Where are the heroes?