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The Politics of Salvation
This is a busy time of the year for academics. The new semester is just around the corner, in-boxes are filling up with emails from college administrators, and many of us are scrambling to squeeze in the last bit of research and writing before the tsunami of teaching responsibility overtakes us.
Nonetheless, I felt it important to take time out to watch and think about the first republican debate in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Even without Trump’s physical presence (Trump declined to attend in favor of doing a competing interview with far-right zealot Tucker Carlson), he was present in his absence. Despite his arrest today in Georgia, the former president is wildly popular among republican voters. And, given the psychology of the MAGA movement, his arrest will only enhance his allure.
The contenders in his shadow have no real hope of succeeding unless they can out-Trump Trump—that is, unless they can move even closer to the fascist pole of the American right. As expected, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy were particularly enthusiastic about securing their neofascist bona fides, and were consequently greeted with roars of approval from the assembled faithful.
As it stands, the Republican nomination will either go to Trump—as is overwhelmingly likely—or, less probably, one or another of the mini-Trumps, who are guaranteed to become increasingly extreme as the campaigning rolls on.
I have been a Trump-watcher, since 2015 when he initially tossed his hat into the presidential ring. Unlike most of my progressive friends, I did not consider Trump to be a harmless buffoon. My ears of study of Nazi propaganda made it crystal clear to me from the get-go that Trump is a very dangerous man (and today, this applies equally to the wannabes hungry for the Republican nomination). So, here I’m resurrecting a talk that I gave in Mexico four years ago (English with Spanish subtitles) as a reminder and a warning about the ever-more-pressing danger to American democracy.