Wish I had a nickel, dime or whatever for every time I’ve heard somebody excusing Mussolini’s fascist coup by referring to those timely trains. Which may be why I was so gob-smacked by Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s comments when asked to react to the fact that the current occupant of the White House lies consistently. Blunt refused to engage with the substance, declaring that :
It would [be a problem] “if we weren’t getting things done,” Blunt responded. “What the regulators are doing. … The tax package, better than I would have expected. I think the foreign policy, the president was left with lots of problems. We had about eight years where we acted like the United States of America was basically any other country in the world. And a lot of things got off track during that eight years.”
So, as far as Blunt is concerned, Trump can do no wrong, he can lie, collude with Russians and curry favor from Vladimir Putin, and enrich himself with taxpayer money as long as he delivers on goodies that Blunt has been trying to get for his rich cronies. Because that’s what “getting things done” means.
Stop and think about that list of achievements: The justly unpopular and deficit-busting tax cut for the wealthy? Deregulation? Tell me in a few years how you like living in a country where basic health, consumer and social protections – air and water pollution and our food supply, for instance – are left to the tender mercies of corporate America. Foreign policy? You gotta be joking. – and don’t give me any backchat about Korea now that it seems more and more likely that the naive and egoistic Trump is getting played two ways to Sunday.
Funny thing is, the claim that Italian fascists managed to make the trains run on time is equally spurious. As Brian Cathcart put it in The Independent, “like almost all the supposed achievements of Fascism, the timely trains are a myth, nurtured and propagated by a leader with a journalist’s flair for symbolism, verbal trickery and illusion.”
Sounds a bit like that prominent liar that Blunt is so eager to defend, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, folks like Madeleine Albright* are warning us that if the tendencies that Trump embodies are left unchecked, the U.S., like Italy, could also go the fascist route:
“The possibility that fascism will be accorded a fresh chance to strut around the world stage is enhanced by the volatile presidency of Donald Trump,” Albright warns. “Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, Mr. Trump’s oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Mr. Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions,” she adds.
In order to save our democracy Albright recommends “defending the truth in the press, [and] recognizing that no one is above the law, ” both efforts that Blunt eschews because, under Trump, “we” are “getting things done.” I can hear that fascist choo-choo train pulling into the station right on time.
As Snopes observes about Mussolini and the ubiquitous trains trope, if you can’t – or won’t – govern to benefit the majority of the people, “the next best thing is to convince them that you have done something of benefit to them, even though you really haven’t.” Trumpism – and today’s GOP – in a nutshell.
*Typo corrected; Albrecht changed to Albright 5/20/18, 11:19.