Freedom on the brink — reject Trump
Posted on February 29, 2016
(Originally published in The Hill)
Imagine if the Germans and Japanese had won World War II.
We take it for granted that America was destined for victory and fascism was destined for failure, but a new television series that appears on Amazon (I know, it’s weird to say that) called “Man in the High Castle” makes no such assumptions.
I am almost done binge-watching the first season. Set in 1962, the Germans have conquered a wide swath of the East and Midwest, while the Japanese run the Pacific states, separated by the neutral mountains in-between. Washington has been destroyed by a hydrogen bomb, which of course was first developed by the Nazis. A nascent resistance movement has emerged, but both the Germans and the Japanese are brutal in suppressing it and don’t think twice about killing innocent women and children in order to extract information to protect the regime. Both regimes widely use gas to execute Jews and anyone deemed to not live up to their high standards.
These regimes have some technological tools to maintain control over society that are comparably primitive to today’s standards. Sure, they tap phone calls, but nobody is carrying around an iPhone that can be tracked. There are no satellites in the sky, no drones to fear.
What is so jarring about this series is the realization that freedom is very precious commodity — once it is lost, it is awfully hard to get it back.
Today is Super Tuesday, and voters across the country are going to step into the polling booths and make decisions that could have a profound impact on the future of our country.
On the Democratic side, we have a self-avowed socialist who has called for massive government intervention into the free market. On the Republican side, we have a celebrity billionaire who promises to “make America great again” by vastly increasing the power of the government to seal off our nation’s borders and by forcibly removing 11 million people from our country.
I am extremely uncomfortable with either approach, but many voters seem smitten. There is a palpable sense out there that America is going downhill, that our best days are behind us, that our country is teetering on bankruptcy, that our streets are being flooded by illegal immigrants and criminal gangs, that the very rich have rigged the system in their favor and that politicians and lobbyists in Washington are somehow all to blame for it.
For some of these voters, there seems to be only one solution: bigger, more effective, more authoritarian government.
Bernie Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee. He doesn’t have the support of enough minority voters to mount a winning campaign. But his incendiary rhetoric has had a profound impact on the debate. His attacks on corporate America have left a mark.
Donald Trump will get the GOP nomination, unless something changes quickly. He has authoritarian tendencies. He mocks the weak. He loves the poorly educated because they power his drive to power. He condemns minority groups. He plays the race card. And he makes no pretense that he will use the power of government to achieve his goals. He wants to build a huge fence and he will make the Mexican government pay for it. He has no problem with the government declaring eminent domain as long as it achieves his interests in the process. His remarks have enough of a tinge of anti-Semitism to make Jewish Americans extremely uncomfortable. He kind of likes Benito Mussolini, and he retweets white supremacist groups. He is a big fan of Vladimir Putin.
We beat the Nazis and the Japanese in the World War II and protected freedom and democracy by beating the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It would be a damn shame if we lost it all by giving in to the authoritarian impulse in this election.