By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on October 14, 2018
On April 30, 1945, German Führer Adolf Hitler died after taking cyanide pills and shooting himself in the head.
On April 28, 1945, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini was shot by a firing squad and then publicly hung by his feet in a suburban square in Milan, Italy.
On December 30, 2006, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging.
All three men were despots who rose to power by standing on the necks of fellow countrymen/women, whom they demonized and persecuted. All three men maintained their grip on power through a non-stop campaign of fear and terror.
To many of their countrymen/women, these three despots seemed invincible during their reign of power. Most of their citizens turned a blind eye to the brutality and mayhem these men inflicted upon the native men, women, and children who were targeted for persecution and death.
A cult of diehard followers actively supported their narrow-minded agendas of fascism, white supremacy, sexism, homophobic behavior, and religious intolerance. Nobody working on the inside of their administrations dared to criticize these despots for fear of reprisals, or worse.
In public, everybody bowed down to these men. In cabinet meetings, government ministers regularly and lavishly praised them.
All of these despots suppressed freedom of the press. All of them demonized and exterminated political dissent.
Things seemed hopeless for those citizens who were subjected to their tyrannical rule and who yearned for a change in national leadership.
As is always the case with despots, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Saddam Hussein overreached in their quest to cement their stranglehold on power. They made enemies out of people and countries that had been allies. They lied to their countrymen/women with impunity. They undermined institutions of government that once enjoyed popular support. Their inhumanity to perceived “enemies of the state” knew no bounds.
Their arrogance, narcissism, and ruthlessness became unbearable to friends and foes alike. Soon, these despots could trust no one. When they reached this tipping point, it was the beginning of the end for each man.
A Modern-Day Despot
For those in America who think President Donald J. Trump is invincible today, they should study history. He is a despot, and despots do not last long on the American political scene. Sooner or later, they all fall from grace and power. When they do, it is usually ugly for them, their family members, circle of friends, and political allies and supporters.
Fascism and national white supremacy movements never prevail, no matter who the standard bearers are or how popular they may seem in their moment of glory. Greatness as a national leader is never achieved through political tribalism, strong-arm politics, and purpose-driven divisiveness.
America, with all of its imperfections and blemishes, is NOT a fascist state. It will never become one.
For the last two centuries, tens of millions of Americans of interracial goodwill have given blood, sweat, and tears to make America a nation of freedom, liberty, and equal opportunity for all Americans. These patriots came from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds. Their collective body of personal sacrifices and human rights work has made us the beautiful mosaic of talented, hardworking, civic-minded, and decent people we are today.
President Donald Trump, who was raised by a cold and insensitive father who could not bring himself to embrace African-Americans as valued citizens and patriots, is trying to take us back to a dark and ugly time in America’s history. Just last year, Trump could not bring himself to condemn the white supremacy rally and ensuing violence (including the murder of an innocent woman by a neo-Nazi at the rally) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump’s White House staff eventually persuaded him to denounce this violence. A few days later, Trump reverted to his old, insensitive self and disclaimed his fake and "scripted" denunciation of the violence.
Today, Trump is praising Confederate General Robert E. Lee at campaign rallies. As noted by historians, General Lee not only fought for the American flag early in his military career, he also fought against it during the Civil War. By traditional definitions of the term, General Lee was a “traitor” who was saved from hanging by a forgiving President Abraham Lincoln and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Yet, Trump reveres General Lee and all that he stood for, as do so many white Southerners who long for a return to the “good ole days" when the institution of slavery and the Jim Crowe era defined daily life for African-Americans in the South.
The Beginning of the End
All despots have diehard cult followers who idolize them. Trump is no different. His followers have excused Trump’s complete lack of character. They have forgiven Trump for not adhering to minimum standards of morality and decency as an American president. They have tolerated and/or attempted to normalize Trump’s daily debasement of the American presidency.
Fortunately, we do not execute political despots in America. We retire them from public office through our participation in democratic elections. No American despot has ever survived the expiration of his/her political shelf life. Participatory democracy has outlasted all of them.
I predicted Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States two weeks after he announced his candidacy. I watched Trump quickly tap into the heart and soul of so many American voters who were disenchanted with traditional politicians in Republican and Democratic Parties.
However, the same constellation of socio-economic-political factors that gave rise to the Trump presidency will eventually cause his political demise.
Nearly two years after Trump's ascension to the presidency, a majority of Americans now see him for who and what he really is -- a self-centered, narcissistic, chauvinistic, xenophobic, homophobic, TV hungry, love-starved, paranoid bully and despot who spews hatred toward women, Muslims, gays, undocumented immigrants and their children, physically challenged Americans, Gold Star military families, Vietnam war heroes, former White House staffers, award-winning media organizations, and people of color with a vengeance unbefitting of an American president.
Trump has no loyalty to anyone but himself. Everybody in his world is expendable. Trump privately mocks his Southern cult followers for the way they speak and for what he believes is their inferior higher education background.
Trump admires and praises Presidents Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines), Kim Jong-un (North Korea), and Vladimir Putin (Russia), all of whom are murderous dictators and fellow despots. In contrast, Trump regularly and publicly scorns and humiliates America's most trusted allies.
In time, Donald J. Trump will join the ranks of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, and the world’s other disgraced despots in the dustbin of history. Somehow, they all wind up there.
PHOTO: Donald J. Trump, an American bully and presidential despot.