On democracy and fascism

23rd May 2016

Something is happening here, with Donald Trump, and no-one really knows what it is. These are four important and truly, truly scary Stateside articles that begin to make sense of it:

Democracies end when they are too democratic: Andrew Sullivan on 1 May for New York magazine:

The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force… It seems shocking to argue that we need elites in this democratic age — especially with vast inequalities of wealth and elite failures all around us. But we need them precisely to protect this precious democracy from its own destabilizing excesses.

The magic of Donald Trump: Mark Danner in the current edition of New York Review of Books.

After Paris, Trump declared last fall, “security is going to rule.” However unlikely Trump’s candidacy may be—and we have seen over the past ten months how the unlikely can be overtaken by reality television politics—such a nominee, despite his negative poll numbers among women and minorities and all the other factors that, we are told, will make his election impossible, might stand only one highly telegenic terrorist attack away from becoming the national embodiment of all our fears.

This is how fascism comes to America: Robert Kagan on 18 May for The Washington Post:

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump: Adam Gopnik on 20 May for The New Yorker: 

The American Republic stands threatened by the first overtly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history—an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power.

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