A lot of people are comparing Trump's rise to power to what happened to Germany in the 1930s. There are many signs that point to this fact and it's terrifying: attacking minorities, extreme nationalism, a contempt for the media and free speech, normalising lies and half-truths etc.
Whilst the parallels with events eighty years ago are striking, I don't think we are in exactly the same situation. Yes there are similarities, but we live in a very different world with very different key players on the world stage.
I am hopeful that Trump's time in power will be short-lived. Whether that's four years or less I can't say, but there are certain factors that I think are against him:
- He's a fool
Compared to a lot of other fascist dictators, Trump's approach doesn't seem to be that well thought out. I really do think that he was trying his best not to get elected, given all the outlandish things he did and said. Now that he's in power, it's almost like he's trying to get himself booted out of office as soon as he can. Don't think there's a 'master plan' or anything – he's making it up as he goes along.
- He's a narcissist
Anyone who's examined Trump's behaviour will conclude that he doesn't know the meaning of the word 'humble'. His achilles heel, he cannot stand criticism or being made fun of. When you're one of the most powerful and well-recognised people on the planet you are going to be the butt of many jokes, and the world is going to turn up the ridicule button to 11. Constantly seeing red, Trump will likely lash out and say things even he regrets. All the associated stress could possibly make him deeply ill and incapacitated.
- His misogyny
Trump's attitude towards women is reprehensible. Yes, he will publicly deny any wrongdoing, but his track record on the opposite sex is not good. If he continues to rile half the population he will have a serious fight on his hands.
- He has no idealogy
Compared to other dictators, he has no obvious end game. Hitler wanted purity of the Germannic race and living space for his country. Trump has made no such noises (although white extremists will say he supports them). Yes, he's nationalistic and bullish, but I don't think that's quite the same.
- He has strong opposition
There is a lot of opposition out there, in spite of his adoring fans. The Democrat leadership appears to be largely spineless, but the media in particular is mostly left-wing and any attempt to quash their output will be strongly resisted. Then there's tech companies such as Apple, who have begun to make noises about their disapproval of Trump. Tim Cook, for example, resides over a multi-billion dollar company, and that has to have some clout. Not only that, but government officials and agencies have been vocal about their opposition to Trump. These guys could be the ones leading the struggle against Trump in days to come.
- He is living in the 21st century
Everyday people have the kind of communications and computational power unimaginable in the last century. Even with some restrictions, which would be vehemently opposed, people have more power at their finger tips than ever before and this will be extremely difficult to retract. That power will come in handy when it comes to resisting any attempt at a new order. Also, 1930s Germany was rife with extreme poverty and suffering, but while there are surprising levels of poverty among people in the developed world, most of us have access to the bare necessities: food, water, electricity and clothing.
- He's not doing anything new
The problem with trying to establish a fascist state in modern times (which Trump seems to be doing, although maybe not intentionally) is that it's happened before, and pretty much everyone knows how things turn out (i.e. very bad). We do have the lessons of history on our side, so hopefully people in positions of power and influence will recognise the warning signs and act accordingly.
How will it all end, I wonder? Is it possible that Trump calms down and just rides it out for four years? Or will the tipping point come with a final act of stupidity that gets him unceremoniously booted out of office?
All it takes is a spark, and I can see it going one of two ways: with a rising tide of angry indignant protests and strong political willpower – or with the tragic firing of a gun.
Let's hope it's the former rather than the latter.