ASKIAM Senior Editor http://www.twitter.com/askiaphotojourn
WASHINGTON–As Donald J. Trump’s popularity and prospects for remaining in office dim, if a free and fair election is held in November, more and more observers are raising the fear that Mr. Trump and his supporters are engineering a dreaded fascist takeover of the United States.
Among his more than 20,000 confirmed lies since he’s taken office, he persistently casts doubt on the pending election process, falsely insisting that voter fraud will be rampant and that he may have to seize control of the election, or challenge its outcome.
In addition, he is fanning the flame of the country’s racial tensions, denouncing the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement on a daily basis with language which stokes White resentment and aims to drive his supporters to the polls, or with deadly weapons–including vehicles–into the streets.
“The United States could be in for some real turmoil if he loses,” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston said in an interview. “I could see his supporters going to the street and people are really not connecting the dots necessarily.
“For example, we, we have these new phrases that are entering the vocabulary that weren’t there before, such as vehicular terrorism. That is to say, there have been numerous instances in the last few weeks of individuals, including police driving vehicles, into crowds of peaceful protesters,” said Dr. Horne.
“You have the spectacle of these Black and other men found dangling from trees with these episodes declared to be suicide. You saw the tape I imagine from Indiana, of an attempt to lynch a Black man. And what I find interesting about the United States at this moment is that even though the post May 25 protests have not congealed into a revolution, the counter-revolution has already (begun). They’re not waiting for the revolution to implant itself. They’ve already begun pushing back vigorously, which does not bode well,” said Dr. Horne.
Mr. Trump has said, again and again, that he would remain in office even beyond a second term, while threatening that he would leave peacefully if not reelected in November. “Under the normal rules, I’ll be out in 2024, so we may have to go for an extra term,” he predicted at a rally in September 2019. A year before that he boasted, “President for life … maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”
The incendiary rhetoric is even alarming some Republicans and running contrary to the advice of some advisers, who believe it risks alienating independent and suburban voters. But it’s a pattern that goes back to cultural divisions Mr. Trump exploited in his winning 2016 campaign.
White House advisers Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, have both warned that some of the racist rhetoric, including the use of China-blaming “kung flu” to describe the Covid-19 pandemic, could turn off groups of voters according to published reports. Some believe there was more of an audience for inflammatory rhetoric about immigration four years ago, particularly as polls show the Black Lives Matter movement gaining widespread support.
“The 2016 debate about immigration was about the future of sovereignty, the American worker, and our culture. The issues that involve race now are completely different,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser.
“It’s not about who is the object of the derision or the vitriol. The actual issue is understanding the appeal to White resentment and White fear,” said Dr. Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American studies at Princeton University. “It’s all rooted in this panic about the place of White people in this new America.”
Those White voters, who totaled 63 million in 2016 are not just wealthy Republicans. “There are a lot of Euro-American working class and middle-class people who support Mr. Trump because they see him as a tool to turn back the clock,” according to Dr. Horne. “The analogy I draw is to the African majority in apartheid South Africa who were willing to absorb the short-term pain of sanctions, in favor of the long-term gain of ending apartheid.
“I think that Mr. Trump’s base supporters are willing to absorb quite a bit of short term pain, including being killed through his mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis in order to get to the long term gain … turning back the clock to the days of old, the days of old meaning the days of Jim Crow and perhaps ultimately the days of slavery.”
The president tweeted and later deleted a video of a supporter yelling “White power.” He referred to the Black Lives Matter mantra as a “symbol of hate.” He took a swipe at NASCAR for removing the Confederate flag from its races and falsely suggested a Black driver had carried out a racially charged hoax.
On Twitter recently, the White House invoked “Manifest Destiny,” a belief that White Americans were divinely ordained to settle North America, an ideology used to justify the removal and destruction of the First Nations population. And Mr. Trump has eagerly engaged in a defense of the Confederate legacy, which he at times has cloaked within tributes to the Founding Fathers.
“Defending the Confederacy and racial dog whistles is not going to help win the suburbs. He is solely focused on a small part of his base when he should be looking to grow his support,” Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid told Salon.
“Is there any boundary to where he might go? The short answer is no,” said Dr. Horne. “I think that the oaf in the oval office is desperate. Now he is reckless. He knows that if he is not reelected, the chances of his being investigated, perhaps prosecuted go up exponentially and he tends to understand that there is a mass base in this country for White supremacy and for racism.”
If re-elected, Mr. Trump plans to spend his second term crushing his enemies–and he doesn’t just mean immigrants and Muslims. His post-impeachment purge will be child’s play compared to what he’ll do in a second term, many analysts predict.
Mr. Trump has no specific policy agenda or legislative priorities, but he never did. He is very proud of the fact that he signed off on judicial appointments that were chosen in advance by the Federalist Society, as well as his huge tax cuts for the rich and bloated military budgets. He knows that if he is re-elected, he will have virtually unlimited power, and he is promising his followers that he is going to use it to fight the culture war.