The United States Is Not About to Spiral Into Fascism and Tyranny


I said yesterday that I didn’t intend to tell anyone to settle down over the Trump victory. It’s every bit as appalling as it seems. And yet, there’s a strain of thinking out there that really does need a bucket of cold water thrown on it. Here’s Andrew Sullivan:

This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward….He has destroyed the GOP….He has avenged Obama….He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him….The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes….His support is not like that of a democratic leader but of a cult leader fused with the idea of the nation. If he fails, as he will, he willblame others….In time, as his failures mount, the campaigns of vilification will therefore intensify. They will have to.

….We will need to march peacefully on the streets to face down the massive intimidation he will at times present to a truly free and open society. We have to hold our heads up high as we defend the values of the old republic, even as it crumbles into authoritarian dust. We must be prepared for nonviolent civil disobedience. We must transcend racial and religious division in a movement of resistance that is as diverse and as open as the new president’s will be uniform and closed.

And here is Charles Stross:

I’m calling it for the next global financial crisis to hit before the 2018 mid-terms. Neither Trump nor Pence are far-sighted enough to realize that the USA is not a corporation and can’t be run like one, and that on the macro scale economics is difficult and different from anything they have any experience of. They will, to put it bluntly, screw the pooch—aided by the gibbering chorus of Brexiteers across the pond, who are desperately trying to ensure that the British economy and banking sector commit seppuku in the name of limiting immigration. We’ve already seen Sterling crash, and continue to crash; what happens when the Dollar joins it? Quantitative easing can only stretch so far before we break out in hyperinflation due to basic commodities getting scarce (as witness the 5-20% food price inflation working its way through the UK’s supply chain in defiance of the structural deflationary regime enforced by the supermarkets for the past two decades).

It’s going to be a flaming dumpster fire that someone has just crashed an airliner on top of. Even if Trump doesn’t fuck shit up by invading Paraguay, starting a land war in Asia, breaking the agreements on climate change, and disenfranchising women, democrats, and anyone who doesn’t lick his arse. The only question is how far the fire will spread.

You know, things are going to be bad enough already. Aided by a Republican Congress, Trump is going to do his best to dismantle the entire Obama legacy. He’s going to cut taxes on the rich and send the budget deficit into the stratosphere. He’s going to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice and probably more. Bye bye Roe v. Wade. He’s going to unleash Wall Street from all those pesky regulations they hate. He’s going to ignore climate change and let the earth fry.

But he’s not a cult leader beyond his own small base of superfans, and he’s not a king. Congress has its own ideas about what it wants to do, and they will do it. Trump will learn that repealing executive orders is harder than he thinks, and it’s unlikely he has the attention span to really keep at it. Hell, repealing Obamacare will be harder than Trump thinks. He’s not going to declare martial law or round up Muslims and throw them in internment camps. He will likely face a recession, but not a financial collapse. When it happens, the Fed will take the lead, and Republicans will throw money at it. That’s hypocritical, but also perfectly OK as a policy response. Trump will bluster about China and Mexico, but he’s not going to throw up 45 percent tariffs on them. He’ll bluster about NATO, perhaps, but NATO has pretty bipartisan support in Congress—and let’s face it, Trump doesn’t really care much about NATO anyway. He won’t put troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria. It would be unpopular, and anyway, his generals will probably convince him it won’t do any good. He’s not going to gut the First Amendment and put the press corps out of business. He’s not going to nuke Pyongyang.

Trump is bad for the country in the same way that, say, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be. Beyond that, though, he’s less conservative on the policy front. The reason Trump is uniquely bad is mostly symbolic: he’s willfully ignorant; he’s vindictive; he’s a demagogue willing to appeal loudly and proudly to racial animus; and he has the attention span of a small child. He’d be an embarrassment to any country, let alone the most powerful country in the world.

Isn’t that bad enough? There’s no need to pretend we’re about to spiral into a fascist nightmare or a financial collapse. We have not embraced tyranny. The United States is a very big battleship, even for Donald Trump.

UPDATE: I’ve changed the title of this post.