AN EXTRAORDINARILY GROTESQUE attempt by the Fairfax press to liken Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to World War I-era Germans and to Nazis should be sneeringly dismissed; Trump is many things, and some conservatives view his right wing populism with contempt. Even so, Trump’s pitch is grounded in a revolt against the US liberal Left. Fellow travellers in Australia — and at Fairfax — would do well to heed the warning signs.
To date, as readers know, I have declined to comment on the early stages of the 2016 US presidential race being played out ahead of the primary season that kicks off early next year; for one thing, this point in the US political cycle is little more substantial than the silly season now descending on our own polity; for another, and with an eye to the farce that played out on the Republican side four years ago, I’m reticent about declaring anybody to be a frontrunner: last time, just about every starting candidate in the field had their five minutes at the top of the pack before sinking into obscurity, withdrawal and/or disgrace.
However, the likelihood that property and media billionaire Donald Trump will emerge as the GOP nominee for next year’s presidential election — and, potentially, as President of the United States — is growing, and it seems no matter what he says (and no matter what his opponents, both within the Republican Party and elsewhere, throw at him), his popularity among likely voters is proving far deeper and more durable than 2012 flameouts such as Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and the candidate I originally supported, former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
With that in mind, I note the shrill and increasingly panicked denunciations Trump is eliciting from an alarmed liberal* press across America and, indeed, around the world; and it is on account of a particularly insidious piece by Martin Flanagan in The Age today that I find myself commenting on the Republican presidential primary season rather earlier than I had intended.
It seems to be a stock tactic these days, of left wing political parties across the world, to accuse conservative contenders of being likely to start wars; in the US, eventual 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney was pilloried for remarks that bluntly stated Russia was America’s greatest strategic and military threat, and subjected to a diatribe that boiled down to World War III and Armageddon being a mere vote for Romney away; I don’t believe for a minute that Romney would have initiated military conflict with Russia, but subsequent events have shown that his judgement of the threat posed by Russia under Vladimir Putin was deadly accurate.
Similar sentiments were articulated about John McCain in 2008; closer to home, of course, Kevin Rudd baselessly proclaimed in 2013 that an Abbott government would result in a war between Australia and Indonesia (it didn’t).
In this vein, the attempt to liken Trump to Kaiser Wilhelm II — the German ruler who presided over his country’s disastrous military confrontation with Allied forces, at the cost of millions of German and Allied lives — and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party is grotesque, and an unforgivable transgression of the bounds of fair comment by a supposedly professional Australian journalist.
It isn’t hard to ascertain the reason for the latest wave of anti-Trump hysteria among the global left wing commentariat: his recent edict that all immigration to the USA by Muslims would cease if he were elected President in November; the Left has become complacent in lecturing and prescribing social positions aimed at destroying the values and foundations of Western liberal civilisation, and accustomed to having its brilliant pronouncements accepted and implemented, verbatim, as the creeping slither of hard state socialism continues its odious infiltration and undermining of the free world.
Any concerted resistance the Left faces must, it follows, be slapped down at almost any cost, and the more damage it inflicts on its enemies in the process, the better.
But the problem is that all too often, the Left overreaches, and when it does — far from contriving to destroy the opponents of its ugly world view — its ridiculous and sometimes downright dangerous utterances are most damaging to itself.
So it is beginning to prove in the case of Donald Trump.
Likening Trump to the figures responsible for initiating the two most destructive and catastrophic conflagrations in human history should and will backfire, and I would be interested to know whether Flanagan — in compiling his silly and offensive piece — was egged on or otherwise provided with fodder by his counterparts in the USA.
There seems to be a chain of inferences and insinuations that are not explicitly spelt out in Flanagan’s piece, which I gather the reader is intended to play “connect the dots” with, and to heed the dog whistle it constitutes. The concept of Social Democrats as the enemy. Talk of the Kaiser becoming a rabid anti-Semite. The introduction of the Kaiser’s war of “Slavdom against Germandom” as a casual method of accusing Trump of racism. The focus on Hitler and on Fascism as the endpoint of this progression, with the clear implication Trump might as well have a swastika tattooed to his forehead.
There is also the small matter of Trump’s ancestry — his great-grandparents were German immigrants to the USA — that Flanagan doesn’t bother to mention (or if he did, would in likelihood simply present as further “proof” of his case against Trump); this is just too subtle an omission to allow to go unnoticed, and illustrates one of the great hypocrisies of the Left: its enemies are to be excoriated for lumping all Muslims into the category of “terrorists,” for example. But as Trump is of German descent, he is basically a German, and therefore as bad as Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler. The fallacious logic and cavalier malice in such blatant double standards are breathtaking.
(Flanagan even sneaks in mention of the Left’s favourite Australian hate figure, Tony Abbott, baselessly and perhaps libellously — in the context of the tone of his article — calling him “another World War I figure” and suggesting he would send soldiers to pointless slaughter just for the hell of it. It is beneath despicable).
Flanagan equates the Kaiser’s “scorn for democracy” with “the way Trump scorns political correctness as an impediment to clear thinking and immediate solutions:” this facile statement is based on a false premise, for Trump — far from attempting to circumvent the ballot box — is seeking to win the potential votes of hundreds of millions of registered voters; the Kaiser Wilhelm II was a hereditary monarch. The real meat in the assertion is that Trump is an enemy of political correctness (read: the prescriptive state socialism of the hard Left) who must be smashed by the clenched fist of the global Left.
Frankly, anyone who stands against such insidious and doctrinaire positions is to be lauded; it remains to be seen whether Trump is electable, but at the very minimum no-one can accuse him of pliability where the anti-Western forces of the leftist junta are concerned, and for that much at least, he warrants a hearing.
It is true that Trump, as voting in the first state primaries draws near, has said things that are outrageous, provocative, and designed to maximise the publicity he attracts, but rather than dismiss him as a lunatic (as the Left is wont to do) a more considered view than idiot-simple rants of the kind Flanagan has engaged in today suggests a shrewd, calculated and intelligent pitch — highly organised and professional, even — that has identified a coalition of voters the Trump camp believes can propel it into the White House, and upon which it has been singularly focused.
Equating him to the historical enemies of the West who systematically raped, gassed and slaughtered millions of innocents is not only offensive, but likelier than not to drive even more American voters into Trump’s embrace. Then again, I did make the point that the Left’s approach to what it believes is the enemy — its own enemies — is more often than not counterproductive, and I daresay Flanagan is simply following the trend.
I’m in two minds about the suitability of Donald Trump as President of the United States — part of me thinks he’d be brilliant, and part of me thinks he’d be bloody awful — but his business nous, his connections, and his undeniable patriotism mark him at the very least as someone with some of the tools required to discharge the post if successful. With 11 months until the votes are counted, there remains plenty of time to ascertain what defects might accompany those virtues, and how deleterious they might prove if Trump is elected: if, that is, he manages to secure the Republican nomination in the first place.
I do, however, think the prospect Trump will prevail is growing more probable, and especially if the Democratic nominee, as expected, is Hillary Clinton: one is the champion of just about everything the liberal Left stands for, and the other the polar opposite of it. Right now, if pressed to pick the winner between the two, I’d expect Trump to defeat Hillary.
With growing evidence in most Western countries that people at large are tiring of being told what to say, what to think, what to do and who to unquestioningly defer to, a candidate like Trump comes to this contest with a rich seam of public anger to tap into.
Former President Richard Nixon used to speak of the “silent majority” in America — it’s also a phrase I have used from time to time in tearing into the same insidious claptrap the Left propagates here in Australia — and it is this constituency of ordinary Americans, disaffected and shunned by the Left’s mission to turn the world into some open-border, wealth redistributing, thought-dictated and tightly controlled illiberal ecosystem that Trump is trying to harness.
Whether the Left likes it or not (and irrespective of who is right and who is wrong) people, broadly, are fed up with attempts to legislate their thought, speech and behaviour out of existence.
They are fed up with having pre-determined positions on issues imposed on them as “fact” — irrespective of the moral, ethical, legal or actual veracity of those positions — and then abused and publicly humiliated as “deniers, “skeptics,” “flat-Earthers,” and other accusations of heresy to paint them as ignorant reprobates and figures of ridicule.
They are fed up with being told their countries are international embarrassments and moral abominations by the Left when its own agenda is to destroy forever the fabric and values that underpins those countries in the first place.
They are fed up with governments that make little secret of their prioritisation of third world countries and sometimes murderous despots over the people who already live in their countries, and their welfare: the first responsibility of any elected government is to its own people, not to someone else, and the will in democratic countries to ensure that responsibility is honoured is growing stronger.
And ordinary people are fed up with a narrow band of chattering elites, drunk on Chardonnay and shaking their fingers at anyone or anything that moves in a contrary direction, telling them that their views, aspirations, and even their existence is meaningless compared to the “superior” agenda they seek to enforce.
America might or might not elect Donald Trump as its 45th President.
Whether it does or not, the popular uprising that buoys Trump’s current public standing is unlikely to be an isolated phenomenon. The “silent majority” — in the US, in the UK, here in Australia and elsewhere — is fed up with the drivel the Left is trying to impose on the free world.
If nothing else, Trump’s rise serves potent notice on the Left that its time is passing, and passing fast; all over the world, those who either seek to spread the Left’s agenda directly or who cheer it on from the sidelines — in a stupid opinion piece in the Fairfax press, for example — would do well to heed the warning signs currently emanating from the Republican nominating contest.
When the “silent majority” turns, its strike will be savage and swift; and the moral poseurs of today will become society’s pariahs tomorrow unless they abandon their seditious subterranean campaign to destroy it.
That is what Trump really represents, and it is why the likes of Flanagan and his brethren across the world are jumping all over him. Their panic is real, and their need urgent. They can hardly say they haven’t been warned.
*I use the word “liberal” today, of course, in its classic left-of-centre context, as it applies in US political discourse, and which has nothing to do with our own Liberal Party here in Australia.