Donald Trump and the visceral appeal of fascism

Standard gotcha journalism fare is to ask a leading, provocative question that can later be framed as if the person being questioned offered up an outrageous comment without being prompted.

Knowing that, rational people–particularly those accustomed to being in the public eye, and even more particularly, politicians–engage in a sort of kung fu, redirecting the energy inherent in the gotcha back onto the questioner, and onto the assumptions (often Leftist in origin) that the questioner betrays. Newt Gingrich was very good at this; Chris Christie is even better. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz comport themselves well in this respect, as well.

That said, there are some responses to the aforementioned type of questions that are so outrageous, so beyond the pale, so off the rez, so tone-deaf, and so stupid, that they betray either (1) an overweening eagerness to tell the interviewer (and by extension, his audience) what he wants to hear, (2) a deep-seated and perverted take on the subject matter, or (3) both.

For example, this exchange between a reporter for Yahoo News, and Donald Trump:

Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Of course, his fans will wax rhapsodic at the willingness of The Donald to tell the hard truths, disregarding political correctness, that need to be told.

It also goes without saying that, all too frequently (as if once isn’t more than enough), Trump riffs on questions while indulging them, no matter how absurd or transparently fascist his answers, in a lame attempt to tell people what they want to hear.

This is one of those instances where I get a clear sense of my biggest shortcoming as a writer: I am rendered largely mute by the painfully obvious. In this instance, the obvious fact is, Donald Trump wouldn’t know Constitutional Federalism if it bought him dinner, took him out dancing, and gave him a blowjob. I will leave it to other, much more talented and patient writers than myself, to enumerate all the ways in which this is a self-evident fact.

Suffice it to say that Donald Trump is a visceral fascist–and much to my dismay, given his popularity, apparently a quarter of the Republican electorate (if the polling is to be trusted, and the Bradley Effect doesn’t manifest itself with a vengence when crunch time comes) is, as well.

This should have been our best opportunity to retake the White House. Given the support for Trump (and to a lesser extent, the woefully clueless Ben Carson), it may instead mark the death rattle of conservatism.

And none of it can be laid at the door of the media.

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