Undoubtedly Donald Trump ruffled a lot of liberal-progressive feathers when he declared that he is more like President Franklin Roosevelt than any other leader has been. The truth oftentimes hurts, but actually Trump is right.
One can easily imagine a President Trump ordering the Pentagon to round up Muslim-Americans and foreign Muslims living here in the United States and put them into U.S. concentration camps for the duration of the “war on terrorism,” just as Roosevelt did to Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, and Japanese and German citizens who were living here in the United States at the outbreak of World War II.
It actually could be worse under Trump. He believes in torture, which does not bode well for people in concentration camps run by the U.S. military and the CIA.
Leftists might respond to Trump’s comparison by pointing out that FDR was a socialist while Trump hews to a fascist economic philosophy.
Of course, we libertarians would say: Isn’t that a distinction without a difference?
Nonetheless, Trump is an ardent defender of Social Security, the socialist program that FDR foisted onto the American people during the Great Depression. In fact, like all other Republicans, he is a defender of the entire welfare state, which is based on the socialist principle of taking money from people to whom it belongs and giving it to people to whom it does not belong.
That’s not to deny, of course, Trump’s fascist proclivities. One could easily imagine Trump following in the bootsteps of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet by converting America’s Social Security system to the fascist model, whereby the government permits people to keep their own money but then forces them, on pain of fine and imprisonment, to place savings into government-approved retirement accounts.
Even though Trump avoided military service during the Vietnam War, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he modeled his presidency on Gen. Pinochet’s military regime in addition to that of FDR. Don’t forget that Pinochet also rounded up tens of thousands of innocent people and put them into concentration camps and military dungeons, where they were tortured or killed. In fact, I would think that Trump, like most conservatives, would hold Pinochet in high regard for doing his best to cleanse Chile of communism.
That’s not to say, of course, that Roosevelt didn’t have his fascist proclivities as well. Don’t forget his National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and Blue Eagle campaign, by which the law placed American businesses and industries into cartels, much like the fascist system that Benito Mussolini was implementing in Italy. It certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine a President Trump bringing back the NIRA, given his conservative bias in favor of government-business partnerships.
Of course, the Supreme Court declared the NIRA unconstitutional, but that didn’t stop Roosevelt any more than it is likely to stop Trump. Recall FDR’s infamous court-packing scheme. While it technically went down to defeat, the fact remains that the Court never again interfered with Roosevelt’s economic program or, for that matter, with that of his protégé President Lyndon Johnson. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see a President Trump doing much the same thing that FDR did to ensure that the Supreme Court doesn’t stand in the way of what Trump knows is best for the country.
Let’s not forget what FDR did to Jewish refugees who Hitler was willing to release from Nazi Germany. He refused Hitler’s offer to let them leave Germany and come to the United States. We have immigration controls and quotas, FDR declared. I don’t think anyone doubts that a President Trump would do same thing to Muslim refugees or, for that matter, any other refugees in the same or similar circumstances.
And then there is FDR’s deliberate acts to provoke a German or Japanese attack on the United States, with the aim of getting America into World War II, notwithstanding the overwhelming sentiment among the American people to stay out of the conflict. Given Trump’s bellicosity toward Russia, it’s certainly is reasonable to assume that he might well follow in the footsteps of his icon FDR and provoke a Russian attack on the United States, with the aim of cleansing the world of communism once and for all.
Throughout history, people have looked to the man on the white horse during times of crisis, the man who will save them from distress and keep them safe in exchange for his assumption of dictatorial powers. The American people did it during the Great Depression. Time will tell whether they do it again.