A Yale professor named Timothy Snyder has newly published a piece against the Trump administration in The Guardian, and his assessment of the United States under Trump, informed by his perspective as a historian, is grim.
The situation boils down to just what era the Trump camp has in sight when they say that they want to make America “great again.” To what time in our history do they intend to reach back to inform their policy decisions?
The answer to that question is that the Trump administration has been patterning itself after political movements that were all the rage in the 1930s — like fascism. This fact, taken from key members of the Trump administration’s own statements, forms the core of Snyder’s argument about the dangers we face.
Snyder opens his piece by describing the situation.
‘In his committed mendacity, his nostalgia for the 1930s, and his acceptance of support from a foreign enemy of the United States, a Republican president has closed the door on conservatism and opened the way to a darker form of politics: a new right to replace an old one.’
Mendacity, meaning committed untruthfulness, has become one of the defining features of the Trump administration, while in the past, conservatives could have been described as “skeptical guardians of truth.” Conservatives of yesteryear were concerned with tempering the response of leftists to societal calamities; they wanted things to remain stable.
Trump is nothing like that. Trump is obsessed with public image over issues of actual truth and substance, and he’s proud of that, having proclaimed earlier this year, for example, that all negative polls are “fake news.”
Snyder goes on to cite concrete examples of how the Trump administration hearkens back to World War II era fascism. For example, one of Trump’s longtime favorite slogans is “America First,” which is the name of a group from decades ago that opposed American participation in World War II and was filled with Nazi apologists.
Snyder writes darkly, saying:
‘Trump is not an articulate theorist, but his utterances do give us a… sense of when the “again” in “Make America great again” was: it seems to be the same “again” that we usually find in “Never again.”’
Snyder goes on to make more connections between the Trump administration and World War II era fascism, writing of the international connection that existed between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and comparing it to the connection between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Snyder’s description of the global state of affairs upon the ascension of President Trump to power is harrowing, and it reminds us of just how close we are, thanks to Trump, to something as terrible as World War II and the Holocaust happening again.
Snyder ends his piece with a call to action for conservatives, writing:
‘The last time around, the old right chose suicide by midwifery, and it seems to be doing so again. If Republicans do not wish to be remembered (and forgotten) like the German conservatives of the 1930s, they had better find their courage — and their conservatism — fast.’
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