I don’t think Donald Trump really is a Nazi, in the same way and for the same basic reasons I don’t think he’s really a Confederate apologist, or a Republican, or a Russian operative, or anything. Honestly, even his white supremacism is a second-order thing, an artifact of the coincidence that he, himself, is white, and cannot tolerate less than personal supremacy. He likes the things in the world that gratify him, and those things happen to be good for preserving the power of white people, men in particular, literally any of whom he’d run over with a combine harvester in a moment if it got the New York Times to treat him like a True New York Big Shot.
He’s too fucking stupid and narcissistic for being something other than Donald Trump, for sublimating any part of himself into any bigger idea of how the world ought to do anything other than direct its attention at Donald Trump. It would take at least some minor capacity to imagine himself as a discrete thing moving within a larger reality, as opposed to the entirety of that reality. It would require a cerebral cortex, even one as depressingly smooth and unwrinkled as his son-in-law’s.
Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying you have to be smart to be a Nazi, or a Republican, or a Russian operative, or an ideological white supremacist. Stupidity and moral dwarfism are prerequisites for those. Likewise, I am not exculpating Donald Trump from moral responsibility. His solipsism comes about as close as I think an actual human can get to real, pure evil. It’s just that when you accuse him of ideological Nazism or Confederate sympathy or whatever, you’re flattering him. You’re granting him more depth and dimension than he contains, infinitely more. He’s just a brainstem. President Lizard.
“Nazi” and “Republican” and “fork” and “war” and “hello”: For Donald Trump these are just noises you make with your mouth. You make the ones that get people to look at you; if they also smile, fine, but if their eyes widen in shock or horror or disgust, that’s fine too, so long as they don’t look away. He’s only a fascist of convenience: For the guy in charge, “fascism” just means everybody pays attention to him all the time.
It turns out that this makes him a handy window through which to observe the society that has now made him its most powerful person! It also turns out that all you can see through it is dismally familiar: Racism and ignorance and childish self-gratification and so on; dull incuriosity, bad taste, apocalyptic discernment, terminal, metastatic stupidity. You can imagine an alternate universe in which “loudmouthed shit-for-brains inheritance baby” describes the person who arouses the least public fascination, rather than the most, in which the meager feat of surviving to adulthood without accidentally walking into an alligator’s mouth is not held to qualify some bigoted slumlord’s asshole brat for synonymity with the word “success.” I can, anyway. But we don’t live there.
Here in this reality, the president of the United States woke up this morning and tweeted some dumbass shit about how like if you take down cheap, hollow, sheet-metal statues of the white-supremacist halfwits and slavers who went to war against the United States to preserve their power to own people, does it not also follow that you will also take down statues of the founders of the United States, and would this not thus result in the erasure of American history or the de-beautifying of our public spaces, or some shit. Who knows. This is a shit-sprinkler spray of false equivalences and logical leaps you couldn’t put past a fucking kindergartener without catching a side-eye.
Did he believe any of it? The question doesn’t apply. He is immune to belief. The tweets will dominate today’s news cycle. The rat mashes the button that makes food appear. In this awful cage, it’s all rats and buttons everywhere.