Trump Is No Stalin, But the MAGAs Are Stalinists

Since FDR, the go-to Republican slur on Democrats is the cry of “socialist” or “communist,” used interchangeably, the same way they now use “Critical Race Theory” and “teaching anything truthful about America’s racist past.” But for many years now, the “party discipline” exhibited by Republicans has been iron enough that it would have impressed actual old-time Communists. All fifty Republican senators typically vote in lockstep, despite Susan Collins’s rumored moderation and even though Lisa Murkowski was technically elected as a write-in independent, after losing the Republican primary, as an incumbent, to a MAGA (sorry, “Tea Partier,” this was in 2010). Deviation on any matter whatsoever now draws cries to purge the RINOs that might as well be issuing from the mouths of Stalinists denouncing “right-deviationists.” And before somebody retorts that Liz Cheney isn’t being sent to a gulag, let me remind them of the torrent of death threats against her and all other Enemies of MAGA.

This right-wing Stalinism has been attached for years now to their very own Stalin figure. If Russia once had a supposed “Greatest Genius of All Times and All Peoples” in a puny, scabby, Georgian bank robber, by gum, we Americans had a “Very Stable Genius” of our very own in a president, even if he was a con artist trust-fund spoiled brat with manners and attention span to match. It was necessary, however, for the Party to have a foul-mouthed avatar of “the Silent Majority” whom the rubes could worship as the second coming of Jesus as they emptied what was left in their pockets as a votive offering to the gods, namely Trump himself and his billionaire golfing buddies.

It has recently started becoming clear, however, that the VSG is no Stalin. The historiography of the Soviet dictator was distorted for a long time by his deposed rival Trotsky’s sly mischaracterization of the man as a “gray mediocrity,” when the truth was he was an extremely cunning and patient politician who got supreme power by patiently sitting through innumerable Communist Party meetings and winning low- and mid-level officials over to his side. Needless to say, the VSG is utterly incapable of such feats. He has maintained his grip until now through his stolen money, the loyalty of the rubes, and intimidation of anyone who steps out of line. It is not proving to be enough for the long haul, as Party officials are finally getting it through their thick skulls that he was only ever in it for himself and does not hold dear the interests of the Party upon which he foisted his “hostile takeover.” Polls appear to show his support slipping among the rubes, whose attention span is as poor as his and who aren’t as enthralled as they were, now that he is out of power and off of both Twitter and Facebook.

So that’s it, right? The Republic is saved, hallelujah! Just wait for the political and legal system to finish grinding the VSG and his repulsive offspring to bits, and we’ll be back to normal.

Alas, not so fast. I don’t agree with those, like Stephen Marche, author of the brand-new book The Next Civil War, who dismiss Trump as nothing more than a “symptom” of dangerous political trends that began long before him and will continue long after he’s gone. It’s true that he didn’t invent, say, Republican ruthlessness and rule breaking; Newt Gingrich, who is “back again,” gets the discredit for that. Nor did he pioneer the destruction of the American working and middle classes while distracting the Whites among them with “coded” racist appeals; that’s been going on for fifty years, and the Party as a whole can take a bow, although it had plenty of help from the business establishment and much of the Democratic Party. However, Trump is not merely a symptom; he is a catalyst of the Party’s transformation into a movement devoted solely to getting and keeping power by any means, including mob violence, which has now received the imprimatur of the Republican National Committee. He’s “not a politician,” said the rubes admiringly, by which they meant he didn’t dissemble and murmur smooth hypocrisies; no, his racism and his avarice and his power hunger and his cruelty were all out in the open, and they loved him for it, not despite it. They have become good little totalitarians, willing to swallow any lie no matter how incredible; banning books; sponsoring and participating in snitch campaigns against women seeking abortions and teachers supposedly teaching Critical Race Theory; and perpetrating or at least backing violence against all who would stand in their way.

“In America, things sure do happen quick,” comedian Andy Breckman sings in his satirical song, “I’m It.” Trump may be on the verge of no longer being “it,” but there are plenty of successors now auditioning for the role of Rebel Without A Clue. They are hungry and they are just as unburdened by conscience or respect for the rule of law as he was, and people like Josh Hawley are showing every sign of political cunning too. Tomorrow belongs to them.

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