Could November see the last presidential election in the US? If Donald Trump were to win, the possibility could not be discounted.
Consider Trump’s utterances and style and his fundamental belief that the US is under a diffuse threat which only he recognises and which is broadly speaking the fault of foreigners and outsiders. These are the hallmarks of a would-be fascist leader – fascist not in any stereotypical left-right sense but in the simple and original sense that he believes in leadership by a single strong personality who alone has all the answers and who alone can put the country or the world to rights. It goes without saying that he also believes he himself is that personality.
Add to that his clearly and repeatedly stated belief that elections are rigged if he does not win them. Add also his almost maniacal sensitivity to criticism, which prevents him from staying silent when anyone refuses to acknowledge his greatness, let alone makes a point against him.
Now suppose that he were to win and therefore have at his disposal the full executive power of the most powerful country in the world. He would still be restrained by the rule of law, you might say, but other holders of that office have been tempted to trifle with the boundaries set by law and Donald Trump is not a man to trifle. Voicing criticism of President Trump need not become a criminal offence, but critics might find themselves suddenly accused of other crimes, or harassed by agencies of the executive. Sedition would suddenly be everywhere, often self confessed in plea bargains by anyone who crossed the executive, as we see in China. Simplistic ethnic or creed based explanations for any setback the country might experience would be commonplace, as they already are in the candidate’s speeches, but how easily could that turn to suggestions of a “final solution”?
Yes, the language is deliberate, these terrible outcomes could rival those of 1930’s Italy and Germany. But beyond that, why would a President convinced of his own popularity and essential rightness submit himself to the uncertainties of another election? After all, elections as we have been told are rigged unless they give the right result, so perhaps there would be a state of emergency postponing the next election, or more likely there would be large scale disqualifications from voting affecting people who – perhaps for no better reason than their ethnicity or religion – could not be counted on to make the right choice.
Americans are rightly proud of the strength of their constitution and might dismiss such fears as fanciful. We should all hope they are right, but history suggests such an outcome is not impossible.