In the last two days Donald Trump has “crossed a new line” by endorsing the suggestion of a reporter that the government should begin to compile lists of Muslims living in the United States. Here is a transcript of one of the relevant exchanges courtesy of MSNBC:
NBC: Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims of this country?
TRUMP: There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it. But right now we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall and we cannot let what’s happening to this country happening –
NBC: Is that something your White House would like to do?
TRUMP: I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.
When he was then asked how he would compile this database, Trump responded that “It would be just good management.”
People are right to point out how disturbing Trump’s declarations are and how they are reminiscent of past policies to track minority populations, most infamously the Jews of Nazi Germany.
But there is one important difference. The Nazi tracking of Jews was motivated by an evil, fascist ideology. Trump, by contrast, seems to be driven more by ego than ideology. And the flippant, cavalier wielding of language to suit his own ego-driven interests: truth takes the hind-most.
If one watches the exchanges, one can’t help but get the “used car salesman” vibe.
USED CAR SALESMAN: How’s it going?
USED CAR SALESMAN: She is a beauty. Just had someone looking at her an hour ago. They’re planning to put an offer in. She won’t last long, that’s for sure.
YOU: What’s the mileage?
USED CAR SALESMAN: Low. And she was babied. Her previous owner was a nice old lady. Never winter driven either. To be honest, I’ve never seen this model and year in this kind of condition. In fact [looks warily over his shoulder], I shouldn’t be telling you this, but we’re practically giving this car away. Like I said, she won’t last long.
Donald Trump isn’t a neo-fascist. He’s a used car salesman. Like that salesman, he’ll blab off-the-cuff whatever might work in the moment to get what he wants. One of these baloney artists wants to sell you a car. The other one wants your vote.
So which is worse? The politician driven by his/her commitment to an errant ideology? Or one driven by a complete disregard for truth? Well, if the ideology in question is something as horrible as Nazism, then I’ll definitely choose the baloney artist.
But are these really the only choices?