For the past six months, the billionaire Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump, has issued one outrageous statement after another. Here is a partial list: He called the Mexican people, “criminals and rapists;” he used a phony “fact sheet” taken from a Nazi website to say that black-on-white crime is at epidemic proportions; he claimed that the American working class is “overpaid;” most recently, he called for the ban of any Muslim immigrants.
These statements are becoming increasingly more bellicose and violent in nature. His program for this country boils down to war-mongering, racism, and the most ugly anti-worker measures. His vehicle for this message is a presidential campaign. His goal is to build a fascist mass movement that would propel him to the presidency.
Unfortunately the history of the world has seen this act before. In Italy, a frustrated newspaperman and political operative, Benito Mussolini used demagogy and play-acting to become dictator of Italy. A public performer to his core, Mussolini repeated simple phrases over and over and promised to recreate the Roman Empire or to make Italy great again. Sound familiar? It should, because Trump’s speeches could be recreated in the Italian language, and the difference would be almost non-existent.
Trump also exhibits certain similarities to one of the other middle European dictators of the mid-20th century, Adolf Hitler. Hitler made his reputation by baiting Jews and other national minorities. Once in power, he began by passing laws outlawing the participation of the Jewish people in everyday life. This quickly moved to outlawing them from Germany itself. This was the road to genocide. Hitler achieved these objectives by harkening back to the “greater glory of the German Reich,” consisting of a pure “Aryan race.” We cannot let Trump take our country down a similar path. This is the path of ethnic cleansing, fascism, and war.
Fascism as an American phenomenon has always been closely associated with ultra-nationalist and nativist tendencies. Indeed, the writer Sinclair Lewis stated in the 1930s that fascism will come to America, “draped in the American flag.” Donald Trump is fulfilling this prediction, and in doing so, he is taking our society down a dark and dangerous path.
The real question is how far this will go, and what the response of the working people should be. Let’s be clear, the working class of this country is made up of people of all colors and national backgrounds. The idea that a multi-billionaire could represent the interests of the working people is as absurd as it is dangerous.
Trump is not only a man whose worldview is shaped by an excessive dose of bigotry; he is also a businessman who employs thousands of low-wage workers. He brags that he uses bankruptcy laws to enhance his profits and complains that the working people are “overpaid.” Once you strip away the show business veneer, nothing is left but an avaricious and greedy developer with a gigantic ego.
The working people must reject his program and unite as one to build a society free of the dark and reactionary politics of people like Donald Trump.
Richard Lipsitz is president of Western New York Area Labor Federation-CIO.