by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
March 17, 2016
IT'S TIME TO TAKE DONALD TRUMP SERIOUSLY
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Charles P. Pierce, Esquire's political blogger, may have written the best line of the campaign season so far when he wrote on Feb. 26 that "the current Republican frontrunner now has stopped flirting with fascism and is now taking it out to dinner and a show."
What inspired Pierce to write those words was a report that day from The Daily Beast:
"Presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday during a rally in Texas that he wants to 'open up our libel laws so when [reporters] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.'
"The GOP frontrunner suggested that when he becomes president, places like The New York Times and The Washington Post, 'the most dishonest media outlets I've ever seen in my life,' will pay for their unfavorable coverage of his campaign.
"He continued, 'I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I've ever met. They're terrible.' Once he's able to rectify the issue of 'horrible' media coverage, he said, 'When The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected.'"
He's not the first politician to suggest that the First Amendment gives the press too much freedom. You expect that from a vulgar, egotistical, thin-skinned bully like Trump.
But he and his supporters seem to like the idea of Trump's security minions roughing up reporters they think are unfriendly.
But it's not just reporters. Trump's supporters have shoved, punched, and kicked black and Latino protesters at campaign rallies while Trump tells them "to knock the crap out of them! I'll pay for the lawsuits."
They cheer the idea of increased surveillance, or even interment camps for Muslim-Americans. They cheer when Trump talks about torturing terrorists and bombing their families.
White supremacists offer support to Trump, and instead of immediately disavowing them, he sends mixed messages and doesn't particularly care that he's exploiting the resentments by white voters for political gain.
There has been way too much silence regarding Trump. I don't buy the idea pedaled by linguist George Lakoff that "the more Trump's views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get" and that, once they are activated, "it doesn't matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump."
Granted, Trump doesn't seem to believe in anything except himself, and his strategy seems to be nothing more than harnessing the widespread anger, alienation, and resentment of the electorate to get himself elected.
But people who are angry about the present and fearful of the future are the fodder on which demagogues have always fed. Demagogues usually rise to power though scapegoating others, especially when there's a willing audience looking for someone to blame for their economic troubles.
This is where Democrats are missing an opportunity. I may be writing about this a lot lately, but if a candidate gives voters a positive vision and appeals to their hopes instead of their fears, electoral success often follows.
Donald Trump, or someone like him, will also attract the hard-core 10 percent of the electorate - mostly male, mostly white, and mostly over age 40 - that are irredeemably racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic, Bible-thumping, gun-fondling idiots. The goal is to convince the other 90 percent of the voters not to go along, and to do so by offering a different narrative.
It may seem counterintuitive, but Bernie Sanders remains the best candidate to take on Trump. This isn't a question of qualifications or experience. Poll after poll shows voters saying they trust Sanders, and he is drawing support - not just because he isn't a bigot, an oligarch, a warmonger, or a liar, but because he offers a coherent and positive plan for reclaiming America from the bigots, the oligarchs, the warmongers and the liars.
But even if the job falls to Hillary Clinton, it is a job that must be done. A Trump presidency was in the realm of fantasy six months ago. No one is laughing now. He must be stopped.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A .from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 35 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.