Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rise of the Strongman President

"When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts … Germany lost the Second World War. Fascism won it. Believe me, my friend."  - George Carlin

Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast stated in some of his more recent podcasts that he believes that the next president will be a 'strongman' (or perhaps 'strongwoman'?). I’ve kicked it around in my head for a time, and unfortunately I have to agree with his prediction. I’ve already been expecting that society would continue to turn increasingly authoritarian over the next decade, and certain recent events and recent memes in the media certainly support the notion of our next president being a modern-day Mussolini. 
Even for all of Obama's over-the-top belligerent and aggressive stance towards Russia, we're still seeing shouts from both sides that he's too weak or ineffectual or indecisive to handle the new threats to the US. That's right, despite his overzealous push for going to war with Syria and an abundance of drone strikes throughout the Middle East responsible for a shamefully high number of civilian casualties, he's just not militant ENOUGH. Last month Hillary Clinton was already busy working that angle:

"I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad -- there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle -- the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said in the interview.
“Americans deserve to feel secure in their own lives, in their own middle-class aspirations, before you go to them and say, ‘We’re going to have to enforce navigable sea lanes in the South China Sea,’” Clinton said."

Sounds to me like Hillary is not only trying to distance herself from Obama, but is also desperately trying to establish her strong(wo)man credentials early. And I suspect that most of the presidential candidates in 2016 are going to be trying to out-do one another on their "strong, decisive leadership" qualities, competing over who is the biggest hard-ass on America's enemies. And the one that wins will probably be the most aggressive, authoritarian, and militant of the bunch. The escalation with Russia is merely helping set up the narrative of "America's enemies are everywhere and so we have to be stronger and more ruthless than ever". It'll be an ironic twist that the new US president in 2016 will probably mimic many of Putin's own repressive domestic and economic policies.

The more conspiratorial-minded might say this is all part of some master plan by the political elite to seize more power, whereas others might say this is simply a result of arrogance and overconfidence on the part of the leadership of a declining power. While I favor the latter explanation, it probably doesn't matter which one it is since the outcome will likely be the same..... a strongman/strongwoman president eclipsing the power of the Legislative and Judicial branches, more government controls & restrictions in our lives, more moves to crush or silence dissenters (as with the Sedition Act of 1918), more US military involvement throughout the world (some being proxy wars with Russia and perhaps later with China), and more calls for the American people to make 'necessary sacrifices'.

The sad thing is some, if not most, Americans will probably DEMAND such a person and strong measures to "keep them safe".

As the so-called economic recovery continues to leave more and more people behind, we will see more incidents like the recent Ferguson riots. Riots and civil unrest tend to persist in environments where there are a shortage of economic opportunities and options for upward mobility. As I mentioned before in the Ferguson post, the shooting was merely the spark; the anger and frustration and resentment that allowed the civil unrest to happen were already present and waiting to provide the fuel for the unrest. As the current economy continues to break down, we will see more people who've been pushed to the economic fringes lash out violently. Sometimes it will be at people or institutions they see as the cause of their misery, and other times it may just be at anybody they perceive as having 'more' than they do. And that is going to scare the crap out of the Average Joe.

In addition the politicians and the media will continue to hype up threats such as ISIS, Russia, Ebola, ‘domestic terrorism’, and whatever else they can dig up. Why? Because they want you to be afraid, and they want you to feel helpless in the face of it all. Now don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate threats out there and some of these things are worth keeping an eye out for. But for the most part they are either greatly exaggerating real security concerns (such as ISIS ‘coming to America’) or largely fabricating them (Putin being the ‘next Hitler’). Just about the only threat they cite that I feel they haven’t blatantly exaggerated is that of cyber-warfare and cyber-attacks on our financial and physical infrastructure. But even that is not something I’m going to obsess about (I’ve already made what prudent preparations I can make so there’s no point living in fear of it).

So I expect these things will steer the American majority towards a dictator-in-chief. Only later when they see that things have continued to get worse and see all they lost will they have their Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment. I still have hope for America in the long term, but in the short term we still have too many people that are willing to believe the comfortable lies rather than face the uncomfortable truth.

Who will end up as the final contenders for that position in 2016? I don’t really know, but I think the odds favor Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket. On the Republican side I’m less certain, but I think it’ll probably lean towards Mitt Romney. Rand Paul probably doesn’t have a chance in hell as he’s not militant enough (I’m not saying it’s right, only what I expect). But let me be clear; it doesn’t really matter who wins because both parties favor the same outcome and will pursue the same oppressive domestic and foreign policies. Sure you’ll have your small assortment of social issues they will make a big game of fighting over, but those are largely there just to keep us divided and unaware of how we’re being played.

So if I expect it’s already baked into the cake, then why do I bother talking about it?  Well, one of the things I hope for is that enough seeds are planted in the minds of Americans that the public will realize its mistake sooner rather than later, and that the less people supporting the new president the more likely it is he/she will hesitate to implement some of the more heinous domestic and foreign policies they want to enact. It’s not about changing the current political system, but more about preventing some of the damage that the current system might inflict as it dies its slow death. Second, the less energy people waste on this political system that’s already beyond repair, the more energy and thinking they’ll devote to improving their own lives and thinking ahead about what kind of system they’d like to see replace this old one. And last, I want people to think about taking steps to protect themselves in such a political climate. Speaking out against authority will be more dangerous, so if you plan to do it make sure you ready yourself for increased retaliation. Which may include anything from being actively monitored by federal authorities and surprise IRS tax audits on the low end, all the way to including freezing one's financial accounts or being charged with vague accusations like ‘supporting terrorist activities’.

In the meantime, if voting for either party’s candidate doesn’t change anything, you can at the least use your vote to make a statement or even have a little fun at their expense. I’ve already got my write-in candidate in mind…

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