Lessons Lost from Jazz Age Fascism

by Donnie Casto II
art by Joey Feldman

One of the lessons of world history and politics is that it’s easy to underestimate demagogues. It’s also easy to overestimate them.

At the present moment of the 2016 campaign, I’ve concluded that Trump is not a demagogue . . .  yet. He’s emotionally and egotistically retarded in both the common connection of the boot in the face or the fist in the throat to humanity of prototype demagogues. Whether Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez today or, in the past, figures ranging from Benito Mussolini to George Wallace to Joseph McCarthy to even Adolph Hitler, the world it seems is always ready for someone to play on the fears and obsolete mindsets of the masses. (A small honorable mention to Richard M Nixon too. Instead, call him a quasi-demagogue: a political figure with the desire, drive, and determination but not the talent, time, or tenacity to manipulate the American masses.)

Demagogues and fear mongers and Caesar-messiahs are part of the natural life cycle of government and politics. It was this knowledge that caused the Founding Fathers to design the three-part checks and balances as circuit-breakers, in part from their mortal terror that a predatory mass leader, a demagogue, or another King George III if you will, would convert popular adulation into American tyranny. Despite the clear and present definitions in the three branches of a Constitutional Republic, the danger has always been present. It just needed the right batch of ingredients to raise the collective dough.

The willfully blind establishments of the conservative and liberal parties in Italy did not think Benito Mussolini could win. History has a way of allowing the Rocky Balboas or ‘Comeback Kids of politics a chance to knock the kings of the mountain off the top.  I recall a discussion with fellow staff writer’s Josh Chambers, David Pratt, Eric Rubleman and Kidman Williams about the potential of the Donald being the frontrunner candidate for 2016.

While I’m sure it was a bit of tongue in cheek humor among us in the One Gonzo Nation, as I seemed to be in the minority of a differing opinion, I have to ask the serious question: “How do the words ‘President Trump’ sound now? Because it could happen folks, make no mistake. Bank on this potential fact, readers of Gonzo Today, mark it in your mind, call me a ‘Republican loving neo con’ if it makes you feel better, (for the record, I despise both Republicans and Democrats with impunity) but if, and I repeat if, Trump wins either Iowa or New Hampshire by a sizeable margin, it is difficult and nearly impossible to see any opponent in the clown car of the GOP who could rally South Carolina two weeks later.

On March 1, a half-dozen Southern states with many fatalists (do the names Huey Long or David Duke or George Wallace ring a bell here folks?) will split the opponent’s ranks further. Jeb Bush could be lambasted by Marco Rubio in Florida, with my current home state’s very own John Kasich winning by a smaller than expected margin in the key ‘road to the White House’ state of Ohio.

Just remember this; if Donald Trump wins either state, it is all over for the rest of the candidates in the GOP race. Since the beginning of Dubya Bush’s War on Terror, I’ve long seen the evident writing on the wall that fascist trends are on the rise in this country. There is to date the surveillance regime, the war on privacy and civil liberties, and the huge incarceration rate due to a racist drug policy that has failed as horribly as the wars on alcohol and prostitution have throughout known history. Now we face another homeland war with out of control police assaults on American citizens. Never mind the ongoing war and threats of more in the Middle East.

This country remains a bourgeois democracy ripe for a powerful savior/CEO who can make a nation like America into a ‘great business’ again. Be it gay banditos ruining traditional marriage, Muslim students apt for arrest for making a clock, the enemies of what makes America great are here, and we need a leader to make us great again.

History will show that one Adolph Hitler exploited the German’s sense of national humiliation and victimization after defeat in World War I and the Versailles indemnity. Hitler was The One who could and would make Germany the pride of Europe again. Any of this sounding familiar to you here in the U.S. guzzling your weekly dose of mainstream media news?

Listen to any of the Donald’s speeches. It’s consistently the same premise that the whole world “thinks we’re stupid” and is laughing at Americans while profiting at our expense. ‘Stupid’ seems to be the Donald’s favorite word when describing how the world views America. Despite the entire quasi-Hulkamania Holy Ghost messiah tune Mr. Trump has rallied America to dance to; Trump, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders can not nor will not acknowledge the real issue of American stupidity and banality: the welfare-government state providing all Americans a life of ease and comfort.

Hitler embraced government welfare programs for Germany to make them ‘great again’ as did Mussolini for Italy. Notice a similar pattern in Donald Trump’s plan to make America ‘great’ again? The Trump campaign and all the positive reaction to it among Republican voters also brings to mind Benito Mussolini, the fascist president of Italy. Just watch a Trump speech on a split screen with a Mussolini speech and you’ll make the connection folks.

Like Trump, Benito believed in running government like a business. I guess corporatism is very alive and well in America eh? This notion of running government like a business is resonating positively among Republican voters. The GOP and Trump supporters are blindly convinced that since Trump is a successful businessman, he will be the savior of the welfare-warfare state, the man who will figure out how to save Social Security and Medicare and finally win the drug war. Trump’s supporters are convinced that he’ll even make disease a thing of the past. Don’t believe me? Just ask the anointed one himself.

I for one certainly hope that Trump, as well as those blindly supporting him, have a “come to Jesus” meeting with an honest conscience. I hope someone in his campaign staff or an interviewer reminds the Donald of Rod Serling’s timeless wisdom that “Any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete.”

Trump has shown he doesn’t take criticism well. He appeared openly thin-skinned or butt hurt after jokes were made at his expense at the White House Correspondents Dinner a while back. Such was also the image of strength, worship, and adulation of Caesar, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and every despotic demagogue in the annals of history. He will likely realize soon, if he hasn’t already, that his brand, not to mention his ego, will not sustain the sort of historical exposure under the microscope that will inevitably follow any furthering of his demagogic aspirations. This could very well be the great event needed to bring unity amongst ardent liberals, anarchist, and libertarians. Indeed, or in the end, The Donald’s self-love might just be his own best friend and our own American nightmare.

Donnie Casto II
About Donnie Casto II 34 Articles
Donnie Casto II is a senior staff writer for Gonzo Today. He has lived in the tri-state area of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Along with his work at Gonzo Today, he is also a tireless advocate for The Fathers Rights Movement in Ohio and Supporters of Ohio Equal Parenting, which promote family law reform and equal custody rights for fathers. He is the proud father of three children: Elijah, Victoria, and Michael. He has an Associates Degree in Business and is currently on break from his Bachelors Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.