If It Goosesteps Like a Duck …

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Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Bertolt Brecht

In the last couple of Trump news cycles (and, yes, they are all Trump news cycles) we have seen left-wing thugs disrupt Trump rallies, right-wing thugs retaliate and the Great Leader himself settle the matter by declaring “no more Mr. Nice Guy” while darkly hinting at organized revenge. We have seen the N-word tossed around in the form of comparisons between Trump’s rallies and some of National Socialism’s more successful soirees in the early 1930’s, and the inevitable patter chorus of denunciations from Trump and his surrogates who, invoking the Donald’s long-standing commitment to civility and balance, have dismissed any such suggestions as shrill and over the top — as if thuggish, bellicose encounters, straight-arm salutes and loyalty oaths could ever be considered anything more than youthful hijinks.

In the midst of these nose-on-your-face events some students of history and other 2+2=4 types have publicly questioned whether Trump isn’t in fact exploiting exactly the same kinds of forces that have propelled strongmen to power throughout history — Hitler being but the most obvious example — and wondering aloud if we can’t profit from the comparison. The typical response runs a very short gamut from eye-rolling to derision and contempt.

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Trump and “Another Fall of Man”

And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot
To mark the full-fraught man and best endued
With some suspicion. I will weep for thee,
For this revolt of thine methinks is like
Another fall of man.

Henry V, Act 2, Scene 2

Someone once observed that character is who you are when no one is looking. He might’ve added it’s also who you are when you are under pressure. Anyone who doubts this should consider human behavior after a power outage that lasts more than a couple of days, or during a bad traffic jam, or in an airport after flights are cancelled, or in any interaction with any federal agency anywhere.

In many ways the rise of Donald Trump is another such “gotcha” moment in which the character, and maybe just the common human weakness, of many nominal conservatives has been exposed. However this finally shakes out — whether Trump finally succumbs to the 27,431 sage prognostications of his collapse or becomes, as is clearly his wish, the new Holy Roman Emperor of the Greater Americas — there has been a kind of death of innocence among conservatives that will not be fully recovered from for a very long time, if in fact it’s ever recovered from at all.

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