Donald Trump has been flirting with authoritarian rhetoric ever since he entered politics, said Michael Tomasky in The New Republic, but he has now graduated to spouting "straight-up Nazi talk".
In a post on his Truth Social platform earlier this month, the former and would-be president pledged to "root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country". He later repeated the line at a rally in New Hampshire. "Vermin" isn't "a smear that one just grabs out of the air". It has been repeatedly used by dictators from Stalin to Mussolini to vilify opponents, and to justify genocides and widespread political persecution; it was how Hitler described the Jews. Declaring that the real enemy is domestic, and then to describe that enemy as subhuman "is Fascism 101".
'Backed by incendiary policy agenda'
Trump's rhetoric has certainly taken a sinister turn lately, said Zack Beauchamp on Vox. Only last month, for instance, he complained that immigrants were "poisoning the blood of our country". And the language is backed by "an incendiary policy agenda". Trump has openly admitted that he is planning to weaponise the Justice Department and FBI against his critics and opponents if he gets back into office, in revenge for what he claims is their unfair treatment of him.
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He and his team are proposing to round up millions of unauthorised immigrants, including long-time residents of the US, and to detain them in camps until they can be deported. He wants tougher policing: shoplifters, he declared last month, should "fully expect to be shot". Members of Trump's inner circle believe he should invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office, so he can deploy troops in the streets to suppress protests.
'Media relying on Trump content'
If you're wondering why there isn't a greater sense of alarm about this threat to democracy, said Philip Bump in The Washington Post, it's because millions of Americans like what Trump is describing. A recent poll found that almost 40% of respondents believe that things have got so far off track in the US that the country needs a leader who's willing to "break some rules if that's what it takes to set things right". Many other Americans, meanwhile, have simply started to tune Trump out.
Mainstream media outlets are devoting less attention to the former president's shocking statements than they used to, said Max Burns in The Hill, perhaps in the hope that starving them of the oxygen of publicity will limit their impact. These outlets have been guilty in the past of relying too much on "Trump content" to "pad broadcasting hours and boost ratings", but they've now swung too far in the opposite direction. While I "understand the desire to see less Trump on our screens", it is big news when a leading contender for the White House starts trading in Nazi propaganda lines. "The media owes it to the American people to make the stakes of our election clear."
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