Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, fresh from being called “demented” by the unhinged Donald Trump, reacted to a Politico piece this morning with a tweet saying, “That 1930s show returns. And I’m not talking about macroeconomics.”
Indeed, he is not. He is talking about Trump’s bully boys, his own personal bodyguards. And Krugman is not the only one who is concerned:
If we're in a place where a president has private police forces and doesn't take intelligence, we're all in body bags soon.
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) December 19, 2016
Adolf Hitler called them his Schutzstaffel, or “Protection Squadron,” formed of NSDAP volunteers. Donald Trump’s “battalion of retired cops and FBI agents” perform the same task for another would-be Führer, aiming, like Hitler’s security force, “to protect him and clamp down on protesters.”
Politico explains that Trump “has opted to maintain an aggressive and unprecedented private security force, led by Keith Schiller, a retired New York City cop and Navy veteran who started working for Trump in 1999 as a part-time bodyguard, eventually rising to become his head of security.”
The Secret Service like the White House is not good enough for Trump. Politico goes on to tell us how significant Trump’s decision to retain a private security force is:
Several past presidential nominees have used private security or, in the case of governors running for president, state police details. But the experts could not think of another example of a president-elect continuing with any private security after Election Day, when Secret Service protection expands dramatically for the winner.
In fact, Trump spent over $1 million on security during his campaign compared to the $360K spent by Hillary Clinton, and his spending actually increased after the Secret Service picked up his security after November 2015. Paranoid much, this new “strongman” of ours?
Politico explains that “The Trump associates say Schiller is expected to become a personal White House aide who would serve as the incoming president’s full-time physical gatekeeper,” but theoretically, he will not be armed as federal law prohibits anyone being armed in the White House outside of law enforcement personnel.
On the other hand, what regard has Trump ever shown for federal law, or indeed, any law? What other candidate has given and received the Hitler salute and demanded personal oaths of loyalty from his followers? What other candidate repeats Nazi tropes right out of Hitler’s own mouth?
Taken together, these developments are obviously a point of concern for Americans living in what is already a police state. Trump has demanded lists of names of those within the Energy Department who back climate science and one prominent hate group leader has already asked Trump to lead a witch-hunt of pro-LGBT officials in the State Department.
As Krugman tells us in another tweet,
“What’s about to happen here is populist style, with a heavy racist component, wedded to oligarch-friendly, middle-class-destroying policy.”
With a strong dose of fascism to back it up, apparently. And in a new opinion column, Krugman says,
“Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.”
But it is what he has learned from his reading of ancient history that are most critical:
“Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms.”
It did not work in Republican Rome. It did not work in Weimar Germany. It will not work here.
As I have argued here before, the Constitution works only so long as we all agree that it works. There are no mechanisms within the Constitution itself to actually protect us when presidents or legislatures choose to ignore it, or court rulings (even Supreme Court rulings).
Our Constitution and the democratic system it gave us is fragile. As Krugman says, “The erosion of democratic foundations has been underway for decades, and there’s no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover.”
And Donald Trump is about to show us just how fragile.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.