Flicking through a collection of Gore Vidal’s writings from the ’60s, I happened upon an essay on Barry Goldwater. This Republican senator, a blow-hard right-winger from Arizona, also provided Hillary Clinton with her first foray into the world of politics – she a proud “Goldwater girl”.
Opposed to federal action on civil rights questions, for a war with the USSR and against trade unionism, Goldwater managed to collect a curious – but fanatic – fringe following. (After-all, we’re talking of the days when there very much was a New Deal consensus, Goldwater then, as he wouldn’t be now, was far out of the mainstream.)
Reflecting on the phenomenon brought Gore to opine on American’s latent totalitarian potential.
I have often thought and written that if the United States were ever to have a Caesar, a true subverter of the state, 1) he would attract to himself all the true-believers, the extremists, the hot-eyed custodians of the Truth; 2) he would oversimplify some difficult but vital issue, putting himself on the side of the majority (as Huey Long did when he proclaimed every man a king and proposed to divvy up the wealth); 3) he would not in the least resemble the folk idea of a dictator. He would not be hysteric like Hitler. Rather, he would be just plain folks, a regular guy, warm and sincere, and while he was amusing us on television storm troopers would gather in the streets.
Ok-ok, Donald Trump may not be the warm and sincere type, but he’s certainly no Fuhrer either (as I have already written about).
From America’s Biographer to one of its unsung philosophers, George Carlin:
When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts.