Donald Trump bloody loves freedom, except not really because it turns out he is a massive fascist. Trump, a frontrunner in the race to be the Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 US election, is in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, in so much as he is wielding an assault rifle and hunting them all down.
That Trump is a wig's hair away from the candidacy should worry everyone, Republicans included. Many people on the right of American politics want less government intrusion into their lives. They range from the sceptical to the fearful about the state and its bureaucratic tentacles.
And there is always tension between security and liberty. It is an age old debate about the role of the state. Total security, but at what cost to liberty? Total liberty, but at what cost to security? Trump sides with the authoritarians who would trash liberty for total control. As Islamic State (Isis) terrorists target the West, Trump declares that "security is going to rule". At what cost, we should ask him. Trump is vague on the specifics, but where he stands is clear: fascism is the answer.
"We're going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule," Trump told Yahoo News in an interview. "And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we're going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago."
He does not rule out a government database for Muslims and some sort of identification to single them out in society (a yellow crescent moon and star to wear on their jackets, perhaps?). Warrantless searches by police. Shutting down mosques. When presented with those kinds of policy options -- a sort of permanent state of emergency, but only for Muslims -- rather than recoil in horror, Trump simply replies "we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely".
This is Trump showing his true self because he knows, in the post-Paris attacks climate, he can get away with it. He is a shameless opportunist who will exploit tragedy for political gain. He senses the irrational but growing fear about Muslims; the insecurity felt by many ordinary people in the west. So he is free to say what he really thinks, which is, essentially, that he is open to fascism as a solution. Kick out Syrian refugees and use the security services to monitor and harass millions of Muslim Americans. Attack the freedom of the Muslim enemies within because they are all, Trump believes, potential terrorists. This is the same statist school of thought that believes "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" and "everybody is a potential criminal".
Trump has form. Mexican immigrants are smeared as drug addicts and rapists of no real worth to society. Laziness is "a trait in the blacks". When two white men in Boston beat up a Hispanic homeless man, and urinated on him, one later told police that "Donald Trump is right" about immigrants. Trump was confronted about the incident by reporters. His reply? That it is "a shame", but "I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate."
The billionaire businessman's ideology boils down to jingoism, nationalism and xenophobia; demonising those who are not white middle-class Christians; and threatening to use the totalitarian potential of the state's power against entire groups of individuals deemed a collective "threat" because of the actions of a tiny minority of people over which they have no control.
To top it all off, he is a publicity-lusting narcissist who sees himself as a great American hero here to save the US from financial, social and cultural ruin; a bane of political correctness and the antidote to a liberal malaise which grips the establishment. Underneath all of this is an obvious lack of self-esteem, a humiliation complex for which he overcompensates in every area of his life. For evidence, look at the exaggeration of his wealth, unconvincing boasts of his attractiveness to women, an obsession with his popularity, his bullying. This is the beginnings of a dangerous personality cult.
There is hope. Even if the Republicans nominate Trump, he is likely to be far too toxic a candidate to win over the swing voters whose support is crucial for candidates to enter the White House. But that such a prospect is even realistic is a troubling indictment of the state of western politics in the face of Islamist terrorism. The far-right are making gains in Europe. Just look at Marine Le Pen and the Front National in France, who are salivating at the opportunity the Paris attacks have afforded them.
Please, America, land of the free, one of the world's oldest democracies, don't let the far right like Trump make gains on your soil too because Europeans may need your haven shores once again in the future.