A number of voices from the dark corners of the political spectrum have begun to promote Trumpenkrieg [Trump’s war] as the latest iteration of the relentless battle against America, its peoples, and its civic culture. This battle has intensified over recent weeks as the midterm elections loom as a kind of Gettysburg for the soul of national political dominance and loyalty.
Armed combat between or among nations tends to marginalize political partisanship as combatants engage in mortal life-preserving measures. On the contrary, the current struggle has afforded time to contemplate what the President finds so contemptible about America and its way of life. Other than sheer control of the national community, it is not clear whether Trumpenkrieg is only a personal and political matter or something else. The battle campaign envelops all 50 states and from one state to another, this President is proclaiming a vote for the candidate he supports is a vote for him and, sometimes, for the Republican party.
A vote for Trump or his endorsed candidate is a vote to preserve the country from a horde of immigrants massed in a caravan riddled with criminals and “middle easterners.” As he promised at the announcement of his campaign in 2015, immigrant Mexicans—rapists and criminals—must be stopped. We elected Trump despite the fact that, in his own words, sexual assaults on women were acceptable because they allowed it; Muslims must be banned from this country; and Mexican-American judges are inferior. We didn’t listen closely enough. A few weeks ago, an air traveler, accused of sexually abusing a fellow passenger, raised the defense that “the president of the US says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.” Oddly, Trump did not tweet his approval of this homage to his misogyny and criminality.
Only a few days ago, a Florida man was apprehended following discovery of 14 pipe bombs mailed to leading figures in Democratic politics. His van, covered with political paraphernalia including threatening decals of some of those 14 with sniper scope targets covering their likenesses, was also seized. However, Rush Limbaugh assured his listeners that the van looked as though it had been decorated in Hollywood, perhaps a reference to Robert de Niro, one of the 14. Others from the right wing echo chamber asserted that the entire bombing event was a left wing hoax or false flag operation created to boost Democratic voting following the Kavanaugh affair. Similar to the 400-pound man in his bed who hacked the DNC along with the “could’ve been others,” never my supporters, deflection.
And it must not be forgotten that George Soros, another recipient, was accused by that same set of right wing voices of being a paymaster for the thousands of migrants in the caravan. Soros is a Holocaust survivor and a frequent target of right wing criticism for his financial support for liberal causes. Recently, his Central European University in Hungary was closed following the emergence of a right wing political party. But, worse, Soros has become a meme for the right wing conspirators as a representation of globalism, another euphemism for anti-Semitism.
Now an assassin has invaded a synagogue in Pittsburgh with an AR–15 and hand guns, taking the lives of 11 worshipers—between 54 and 97 years of age—and wounding several first responders. The killer’s social media postings criticized Trump for not going far enough to stop immigration by Jews who were assisting Muslim immigrants. The Jews, he wrote, were “infecting” our nation, echoing a term used by Trump to describe Mexican immigrants. At a political rally, Trump demonstrated his reserve by not arguing that there were “fine people” on both sides in the synagogue, as he spat back at the media following the Charlottesville, Virginia, riot.
Trump says a vote for candidate X is a vote for him. His urgings of followers to act violently against others has been recorded on many occasions, and many of his most ugly statements are not dog whistles but full-throated racial venom. While White House spokespersons may deny any causal link between his rhetoric and the violent events that have embroiled our nation, few are persuaded by such patently pathetic defenses. The German term krieg translates as battle or war, but there appears no clear rationale for the President’s animus. While it may be logically defensible to challenge any causal relationship among Trump, his rhetoric, and actual events, it is clear that our civic culture is under assault at the same time that the media that challenges Trump is hammered as fake news. Trumpenkrieg is about soul, spirit, and civility, and the national community’s sense of self-worth and character.
Trump essentially dismissed the media coverage of the 14 bombs because such attention, he claimed, detracted focus from Republican political momentum. Unlike the behavior of prior presidents, Trump announced that he “passed” on communicating with any of the 14 targets with reassurances about their safety. He told reporters prior to boarding Air Force One for a political rally that he thought the synagogue killings would have had a better result were guns available within the temple, adding that the death penalty should be renewed as a deterrent to such criminal behavior—but, of course, he had no comment on gun control.
Trumpenkrieg is an attempt to destroy the civic fabric and culture that has sustained the United States from its founding. Despite the rationale of those who claim the Second Amendment was designed to allow all to bear arms in defense of the nation, in the face of Trumpenkrieg there is only the ballot as weapon. November 5, 2019 and November 3, 2020, will mark vital events, greater than Gettysburg, in the salvation of the union and the nation.