Donald Trump holds totalitarian leaders like Vladimir Putin in his highest regard. He is on record as preferring them to the cerebral Barack Obama. That doesn’t surprise me in that those who deep down know they are intellectually inferior almost always are jealous of those who are not. For months, and increasingly of late, many have compared the actions and rise of Trump to those of the fascist leaders in 1930’s Europe. There are telltale signs to watch for if totalitarianism is just around the corner. Today I’d like to share a few I’ll be watching for.
The first telltale sign will be how the press is handled. If we end up with a Minister of Information situation instead of a Press Secretary system then we are in trouble. In the case of Trump it could take a different twist in that he may choose to appear to be communicating directly with the people via Twitter. Twitter suites his arrogance and ignorance well! 140 characters or less and no follow up questions. Who are professional journalists or the people for that matter to question the omnipotent (in his mind) Donald?
If he does go a more traditional route will he punish and reward people by providing or denying access based on how well they have treated him lately? I can’t envision him doing an interview with Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. By comparison, Barack Obama agreed to an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News on at least two occasions I can remember off the top of my head.
Even more dangerous along those lines will Trump ignore the traditional media altogether? Could he limit access to far right wing mythology specialists like Breitbart and Alex Jones’ Infowars? Since those are fact free (and in fact often purposely fact ignoring organizations) they are great for getting out a message totally unfiltered by legitimate journalists. As much as I justifiably criticize Fox News I cannot envision Chris Wallace letting a plethora of bold faced lies go unchallenged.
If I wanted to control a population one of the first things I would do is circumvent the freedom of the press. We saw that strategy’s effectiveness with Russia’s recent intervention in our election. Even partial control of the message can have a significant effect on a population that is too busy with life to dig into the details of news. This correlates well with why the alt-right is so vehemently against Common Core. They fear it, and with good cause, because they fear the critical thinking it teaches.
There is definitely an anti-intellectual war starting in the incoming Trump administration. The first evidence of it was the attempt to gather the names from the Energy Department of civil servants and contractors who participated in any climate change meeting or policy implementations. Fortunately, as of this writing the Energy Department has been able to deny all but public information to the Trump transition team. The more difficult it is for them to formulate their hit list the better off the planet is!
There are other dangers. In fact we have already seen the warning signs of many of them. I’m just an old basketball coach at heart and many of my lessons in life were learned on the bench wearing a suit and tie. Sun Tzu said it best about 25 centuries ago, “Most battles are won before they are fought”. In basketball most of those great last second plays you see at the end of a close game were developed months if not seasons ago. Great coaches wait for that rare opportunity to use them.
I am among those who feel Trump is a danger. These are some of the warning signs. If I’m correct we have already seen a few. I hope I am not!
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