Dear Americans: This Is What Fascism Looks Like

If Fascism is a ten-step program, you’re at number seven now. I used to think you’d progressed no farther than five, but that was before the internment camps.

Personally, I am always equal parts amused and terrified when I hear people wondering out loud, in conversation or in writing, how the horror that Nazi Germany is universally understood to be could ever have happened. Amused, because people apparently cannot see the truth when it stares them in the face, and terrified for the very same reason. You want to know how it happened? Look around. It is happening right here, right now, and nowhere as obviously as in the United States of America.

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Dear Americans, I lost the bet.

When he took office, I bet he wouldn’t last a year. I wasn’t thinking of impeachment, really, I thought he simply wouldn’t have the staying power to see it through.

Political dramas are some of my favourite TV series. The West Wing was probably my initiation into American politics. I had never before seen a show about the actual day to day administration in the White House. It was mesmerising. Also, considering that Bartlet was supposed to be a Democrat, and we were meant to see the best possible administration, it was soon evident what kind of clusterfuck American politics are. (Seriously, you guys, riders? That shit needs to go. Who does that?)

A collage of five fictional presidents: Snow, Palmer, Allen, Bartlet, and Dalton.
People who are better Presidents than No. 45.

I’m currently watching season 3 of „Madam Secretary“, a show focused on the Secretary of State, or, as the rest of the world calls it, the Foreign Minister of the United States. The person in question is a former CIA operative, and as questionable as the institution is (ask anyone in Latin America or the Middle East), the job has prepared her well for the tribulations of this office. See, foreign policy is a difficult and delicate subject. You need to know the lay of the strange land you’re dealing with. You need tact. You have to know who the players are, who they’re connected with, what their agendas are. I’m sure the show simplifies stuff a great deal, but nowhere near as much as your current President does.

Let’s talk about President Dalton, „Madam Secretary“’s Commander in Chief. Himself a former CIA person, he has a good grasp on international politics. He is also seen to rely a great deal on the intelligence his agencies bring to him, as well as the counsel of his advisers. Nowhere is he heard saying that he’s „a very smart guy“ or „a stable genius“. He knows that he cannot know everything, so he turns to the people who do. As any sane person would, really. President Dalton is calm, aware, conscientious, and cautious. While one might disagree with some of his policies (the show takes great pains to avoid a clear statement on whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat, but there are tiny indicators that he might be a Republican), the process of how he comes to a decision is always careful and measured.

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Dear Americans: Enough is Enough

It’s been roughly a year since I last addressed you as a collective. Like most people here, I’ve watched on in disbelief, but I have given you the benefit of the doubt. Not that I, personally, had a lot of doubt to begin with. Because there was very, very little question of what kind of president Donald Trump was going to be. Now, it turns out, he is the kind of president that closely resembles the type of person he is (surprise!), commonly described as „human excrement“.

We – Western Europe, pretty much – have been having a good laugh at your expense (not you, United Kingdom). I’ve never, ever, in my 40+ years of existence, seen news anchors on boring German public TV stations use words like „ridiculous“ for any elected official, let alone the President of the United States of America. There is no shortage of candidates (Duterte, Kim Jong Un, Erdogan), but no one else has ever made them lose their cool. Sometimes you can tell they’re trying not to giggle. As a collective, we are caught somewhere between dumbfounded incredulity and morbid fascination, looking at the train wreck that is the current US administration. We gave you the benefit of the doubt, and it’s actually worse than we thought it was going to be.

Yes, it has been as shit-show from the start. He can’t hire people for shit, and when he does, he unerringly chooses the most ludicrously inappropriate person alive to fill a position. It’s the Little Cabinet of Horrors. I don’t have to talk about Betsy deVos here, as her complete lack of qualification precedes her. Kellyanne Conway single-handedly invoked every dystopian vision ever by giving us „alternative facts“. Sean Spicer, in retrospect, sounded almost competent (given what he had to work with) when compared to Anthony „The Mooch“ Scaramucci, who, I’ll give you that, was at least hella entertaining. And let’s not even go into his hiring his friggin‘ family as „advisors“ and whatnot. I’m still waiting for #45 to appoint Bill Cosby as Secretary for Women’s Rights.

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Dear Americans: Be Sensible

Dear US-American friends

I need you all to be rational now. I know you were very, very excited, and now you’re very, very disappointed. Bernie Sanders is amazing. He is what you never thought a politician could be. He is genuine, radical, passionate, and above all things, good. As in, an actually good person. Trustworthy. All those things that Hillary apparently isn’t. The movement, as witnessed from over here, is amazing. Many of us cheer for Bernie. We would elect him, here in Zurich. I know, because we have elected people just like him. Hell, we would get him elected on a national level, because we have had Chancellors just like him. Genuine, passionate, trustworthy. Who fought for their ideals, and made a real difference.

I get it. You’re terribly disappointed, because he lost those weird primaries you have. And yes, there was a bias in the DNC. You are, therefore, also furious. And you have every right to be disappointed and furious. I’ve been there. Actually, as a Swiss person, I have an opportunity to be absolutely devastated while simultaneously seething with rage every three to four months. That’s how often we’re being called upon to exercise our democratic privilege to vote. We don’t just elect governments, we also vote on issues. As do you, it’s just a matter of frequency. So, every three to four months, EVERYTHING hangs in the balance. Remember the disastrous outcome of the Immigration Reform in February 2014? Of course you don’t. The far right won with 50,4% vs. our 49,6%. Disastrous decision, far reaching results, AND SO DAMN CLOSE. Rage, I tell you. For days, my blood was boiling. But what is a body to do? Leave the country? Move to Scandinavia, because, as everybody knows, that’s where paradise is. So, in short, I was throwing a little tantrum. Kinda like you are, right now.

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