This blogger likes to think he is not much given to hyperbole. Perhaps he is wrong. But watching Donald Trump strut the stage in Cleveland at the Republican convention at which he was nominated (if, of course, any man alive an actually aurally strut a stage) and hearing about Recep Tayyip Erdogan declaring a state of emergency in Turkey, allowing himself and his cabinet (though I think we can safely assume it will at the end of the day be himself) pass laws without the say-so of the Turkish parliament, one does wonder whether comparisons with the rise of Hitler are all that fanciful.
Yes, any hack worth his salt has already pointed out that Hitler also came to power – more or less – democratically. I say more or less because a little skulduggery and bending of the rules did go on. And every hack worth his salt has quoted Erdogan’s ominous description of democracy of (I paraphrase, of course) a train from which one can get off once one has got to where one wants to get to. Erdogan most certainly came to power democratically and if – a long shot, of course, but it is possible – Trump is elected president of the United States, it, too, will be with a democratic mandate. But comparing the two, I think we have more to fear from Erdogan than Trump.
Trump is, in my book at least, a buffoon, a kind of American Boris Johnson without the Latin. Neither, I suspect, has had an original thought in their lives. Erdogan, on the other hand is not, stupid (and I don’t think Johnson is stupid, either, just a buffoon whose one idea is how to make Boris Johnson a figure of history. The man, apparently, already thinks of himself as a latter-day Churchill.) But Trump, if he is elected, will still have to contend with a Congress which will not necessarily be inclined to do his bidding if his bidding is patently utterly daft. And more to the point, I don’t doubt the US has a fully functioning civil service, the lads and lasses who do all the donkey work, who will gladly stick a spanner in the works if needs be by they simple expedient, in true civil service style, of slowing everything down. (I must, though, admit here that I know bugger all about the US civil service and maybe I am just whistling in the wind.)
Where Trump could do a lot of damage is by creating uncertainty, and he has already taken a step or two along that path by suggesting the the US would not necessarily come to the aid of a Nato ally when threatened (by the Soviet Union – sorry, Russia) if it feels that ally hasn’t been pulling its weight in the organisation. Putin and China must have cheered when they heard that and I don’t doubt there is and will be any number of Russian and Chinese spooks patriolling the highways and byways of the US urging its citizens to vote for Donal J Trump and make America great again.
The man’s speech to the convention was a textbook case of vacuous political bombast: apparently he’s going to put and end to crime and violence in the US. That does make me wonder what America’s law enforcement agencies have been trying to do all these years when they found themselves with a little time on their hands while not roaming the streets hunting down blacks to shoot dead. (Cheap shot, I know, but I couldn’t resist it.) And I do wonder how a man who doesn’t believe in gun control feels ‘ending violence’ will be such a cinch.
In the event, of course, few expect Trump to be beat Hillary Rodham Clinton to the White House. But then few expected the British people in the ‘should we, shouldn’t stick it to the EU?’ referendum to vote to return to the Fifties and the era when the ordinary man in the street could hate foreigners with pride. But they did. (Incidentally, what does the ‘ordinary man in the street’ actually look like? Am I one? Is he bald? Is he a little bit gay? Is he a fan of Cliff Richard?
We do know, thanks to the referendum of four weeks ago exactly today, that he – the British man in the street that is – isn’t fussed whether his food tastes of shit, talks about shagging more than he actually does it, thinks the safest place to keep your money in France is underneath the soap and that all Germans go to bed in their jackboots. Oh, and central heating is for wimps: if keeping out the cold be slavering goose fat all over his body of a morning was good enough for his great-grandfather, by jingo it’s good enough for him.)
As for Clinton, well from where I sit she has the one advantage over Trump in not being quite as stupid. But watch she makes up in intelligence, she squanders wholly in dishonesty: from where I sit the choice between Trump and Clinton is pretty much analogous to choosing between bowel cancer or stomach cancer.
Erdogan, of course, is very much a different threat. Quite what the man wants I really can’t fathom. Is it just power? Does he have a vision for the future of Turkey which is so difficult to achieve that it necessitates him having dictatorial powers unencumbered by a parliament. I really don’t know and I suspect you don’t, either.
To get to the point of this ramble (which for originality must compare favourably with our Sunday newspapers which do very little by precis the previous six days daily newspapers, then advise on what aftershave to wear when you are off to the timeshare in the Dordogne - readers of the more downmarket Sunday papers must
look elsewhere for relevant persiflage – what, exactly, do the next 30 years hold for our young? I have a 20-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son for whom what happens in the coming 30 and 40 years is rather important. And if Trump fucks things up for the rest of the world by making America great again, and if Erdogan pretty much screws up the Middle East for the next 100 years, their prospects of peaceful prosperity will be rather curtailed.
Actually, I don’t know what to think. To be honest, I’m wondering whether I’m simply beginning to suffer from the condition with seems to affect everyone getting on in years that ‘the world is going to the dogs’. I’ve been trying to recall world situations from when I was 20, 30, 40 and 50 and just how bloggers (or their steam age equivalents) reacted to ‘world events’. The trouble is I can’t. To put it succinctly, am I just more pessimistic because I am simply more aware of world events or are things really going rather worse than they were in recent memory? And to be honest I don’t actually think they are worse: in a certain mood they always are awful, so, dear reader, look on the bright side. Like me you might well be dead be 2030. Which brings me onto global warming, but fuck it, I’m to tired to ramble on anymore. Pip, pip