On one hand, we are experiencing a corporate take over. A proposed Cabinet of 15 people has $4.5 billion dollars of financial worth. As Trump said, “I want people that made a fortune!” Perhaps to him, it is a game of hiring and firing people to establish a new order of business where he is the boss. This is different from political transition of power, when people with experience and expertise are appointed to do the complex job of governing a nation.
In the meantime, his closest advisors (a small group, not a large system of checks-and-balances) are helping him lead a fascist regime takeover. A shift of power towards radical authoritarian nationalism. Think Hitler.
STEP ONE for a fascist ruling is to attack the media, discredit it.
Controlling the media allows you to control information. messaging. perceptions. reality.
Steve Bannon is the chief White House strategist and was Trumps campaign chairman. It seems he may be a master at shaping perception. Prior to the White House, he was the Executive Chairman of an online media publication for white nationalists, anti-Semites and racists. He has significant experience igniting the fire in people who are fueled by hate for other people. He can stir their passion with streams of angry ideologies. He knows how to run a propaganda machine, how to control the flow of information that is used to shape perception and reality. And now, as the chief strategist, he is shaping what we believe is real or fake, truth or lies, legal or illegal. To achieve this, the first step is to isolate people from the media. The media must not be trusted as a source of truth, facts, or accurate accounts of what is happening in order to be able to control public perception.
STEP TWO for a Fascist ruling is to silence scientists and government employees.
Scientists must go because critical thinkers are a threat to authoritarian control. The administration quickly silenced the Environmental Protection Agency and other government officials. Yesterday Trump fired the sitting Attorney General because she did not agree with him. Traditionally in the United States of America, we value something called checks and balances. Disagreement of opinions is tolerated as part of the process of determining what is the constitutional rule of law. However, in this corporate, authoritarian take-over that is no longer necessary.
This weekend Trump removed the nation’s top military and intelligence advisers from being regular attendees to the National Security Council. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence are no longer regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, the highest official group that deals with national security matters. Steve Bannon, someone who has no government, intelligence, or high-level military experience was added to the National Security Council. Two senior military positions were downgraded and an online publication editor was put in their place on matters of national security. With his permanent seat at the NSC meetings, Bannon has been elevated above the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, who was not offered an open invitation.
In addition, last Thursday the majority of the State Department was made to resign. These are career officials who are generally committed to the position and the State Department and who remain in their positions for at least a few months in a transition of power to insure a smooth and safe transition. Their removal now leaves the State Department entirely unstaffed during these critical first weeks when orders like the Muslim ban (which they would normally resist) are coming down.
Meanwhile, on Friday Reince Preibus, the White House Chief of Staff, released a statement for Holocaust Remembrance day (as is custom for the White House to do). In his statement, however, he failed to mention Jews as part of the list of people who are remembered from that horrific time. And then defended the choice to not include them. Friday was also the same day that the refugee ban was put into affect. Both of these actions are a wink to a White Nationalist base (remember the folks at Breitbart, the online publication that Bannon ran) who also claim that the Jewish genocide of the Holocaust was fabricated and are in favor of White Nationalist policies such as the discriminatory executive orders.
This administration is trying to create power by creating chaos. One “shock and awe” event after another. Orders that are ambiguous or ridiculous, causing people to scramble to react and protect the vulnerable. If they can throw the people into a state of chaos, if they can tire us from anxiety and fear, we are easier to control. The hope is that with one atrocity after another, people will become desensitized. We will retreat into our safety or despair bubbles. The masses will stop noticing and stop responding to abuse of power. We cannot let them wear us down. Don’t be surprised that there will be more to come. Take care of yourself. TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. Don’t hide. Stand up. Live love and compassion with a fierce commitment to peace and justice. Get creative in how you speak out against what is unjust and create new ways for us to govern and care for each other. Find ways to process what you are feeling and experiencing, talk to your friends and neighbors. Build bridges across differences. We need one another. We are all in this together.