While Trump referred to himself as a “law and order president(sic)” is isn’t the first conscious use of Nixonian rhetoric or imagery. The 1968 Nixon was a beneficiary of historical events that Trump has limited options to manufacture in the time remaining.
Trump now appeals to more Nixonian referents:
Trump’s “silent majority” is neither silent, nor a majority, and the latter is his real problem. But they do believe they are the only authentic Americans, and that the only real “democracy” is one in which they hold power, and that’s what makes this moment dangerous.— Adam Serwer 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) June 2, 2020
(Jules Feiffer) read each panel out loud, until he reached the conclusion: a nation populated by little Richard Nixons. Nobody had to state the obvious parallel to Trump’s presidency: Will this era begat new Trumps? Feiffer finished reading and looked up. “Oops, I tripped over it,” he joked about his own prescience.
Feiffer continued: “These were things that have been with us since the very beginning, and that’s essentially what got me to go into this work, hoping I had an effect, and all I had was a good time.”
I told him I didn’t agree. Feiffer’s comics in The Village Voice opened the door for personal, insightful, introspective, and often viciously satiric comics in the alternative press. His influence on the national conversation is immeasurable.
“I think what I’ve done is make people who feel lost less lost because I’m there with others doing similar work,” Feiffer said. “But the one thing I’ve learned as an old man is that this is a country without a learning curve. We don’t learn, and the reason we don’t learn is because we don’t regard history as serious… History is the past for us, history has nothing to teach us, and if it did, we wouldn’t want to be taught, go fuck yourself.
Trump obviously also used the “Silent Majority” Nixon phrase throughout his 2016 campaign— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) June 2, 2020
Photo from a April 2016 rally of a kid holding up a “silent majority stands with Trump” sign that campaign staff handed out: https://t.co/8OwJ2Wdp3v pic.twitter.com/j6PDQc4mL1
The throngs of protesters who stormed Capitol Hill ….didn’t succeed in keeping Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. But they did furnish Donald Trump and the Republicans with an election-season message to energize their base. Ever since Americans saw the atria and corridors of the Senate buildings teeming with foot soldiers of the resistance, the president and other Republicans have been trying to stoke fears of social chaos with overblown rhetoric comparing Democrats to a mob. “The only way to shut down the Democrats new Mob Rule strategy is to stop them cold at the Ballot Box,” Trump tweeted earlier this month—a warning echoed in GOP political ads across the country. He unveiled a hashtag aimed at Democrats: #JobsNotMobs.
In modern times, the phrase is associated with no one more than Richard Nixon—the president Trump resembles most. Like Trump, Nixon ran for president on a promise to protect the peace-loving public from Democrats who would coddle the libertine and the lawless. Like Trump as well, he dusted it off for the midterm elections that arrived as the opposition was surging—in one instance stoking a liberal protest so that he could capitalize on the backlash, with his speechwriter William Safire, a former public relations man, calling it “the most serious mob attack on a national leader in American history.”
How Hitler seized power:— Andrea Junker ® (@Strandjunker) June 2, 2020
1. Create a crisis.
2. Demonize opponents.
3. Declare a state of emergency.
4. Undermine elections.
5. Make the rule of law irrelevant.
6. Rule by decree.
If America falls it will be because of the people who didn’t pay attention. #DictatorTrump