What Makes ‘The Donald’ Special and Dangerous

Carl Davidson Author and Writer, Beaver County Blue

Donald Trump is a unique guy in many ways—goofy hair, a four-time boom-and-bust devotee of our bankruptcy laws, and a multi-billionaire able to run for president on his own bank account.

My Dad, rest his soul, used to have a kind word for candidates like this. In his day, it was a Rockefeller. ‘At least you know he can’t be bought. He’s the one that does the buying.’

But here’s one item that takes the cake. If you visit Trump’s presidential-run web site, at least today, at donaldjtrump.com, you may notice something interesting.

There’s no ‘issues’ tab to click.

That’s right, despite all his rants and one liners about all sorts of things—walls along the Mexican border, the moral virtue of soldiers who avoid becoming POWs, how Latinos love him because he puts them to work (with or without papers) in his hotels, how Iran’s ayatollahs will shiver in fear when he bangs the table, how everyone will be working and above average when he’s in charge—one still cannot find a program or platform spelled out, even in a dozen bullet points.

There’s a reason for this. It’s called demagoguery. It’s a means whereby the ‘great leader’ hones in on something his audience-of-the-day feels aggrieved or resentful about, and then rubs that hidden anger raw until it explodes in a wave of adulation. It can be a grainy video of an unemployed Mexican making his way across the border seeking menial work, or it can be “dial one for English, two for Spanish” on a phone recording, or the sight of smiling immigrant kids going to school on your tax dollar. It can be anything that hankers back to a time when white guys seemed to be in charge, and everyone else ‘knew their place.’

In this way, ‘the leader’ becomes the voice of ‘the little man,’ and when he acts like a bully who can do any damned thing he pleases, the ‘little man’ gets to live the experience indirectly, even if he’s as strung out and downtrodden as ever.  Plus ‘the leader’ gets waffle all he wants, promoting a huge government project one day, while burning up the hard-won safety net the next. Republican, Democrat, it doesn’t matter, he brags, he buys whichever one he needs, for whatever he needs.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a name for what stands behind this politics that attacks everyone but the billionaires, and uses divisiveness and a whiff of violence to get over. It’s called fascism, and this is what it looks like, American style. Laugh at it if you like, but nip it in the bud. Or we’ll all live to regret it.

Carl Davidson, a retired computer technician, is a USW Associate Member now living in Aliquippa, Pa., his hometown, and the location of the former J&L Steel Mill, where many in his family worked and where his grandfather and a cousin died on the job. In Chicago, he served as a computer consultant for SEIU and several other unions, and was the editor of FIRR News for the Federation for Industrial Retention and Renewal during the campaigns against plant closings. In the 1960s, he was active in the civil rights movement, a national leader of student new left and the anti-Vietnam war movement. He worked on President Barack Obama’s first political campaign in Illinois, on his campaign for the U.S. Senate and for the presidency. Together with Jerry Harris, a former Chicago steelworker, he is author of CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age and editor of Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet. He is the author and co-author of several other books and lectures on the topic of the Mondragon Cooperatives, a network of 120 worker-owned factories centered in Spain, and writes for the Beaver County Blue website.

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