I’ve said a few times that totalitarianism requires three ingredients: a motive, or a totalitarian ideology; a means, or a strong national security state; and an opportunity, or a liberal establishment too weak to survive a crisis. I’ve talked a lot about the motive on this blog, but recent news stories about police brutality make it prudent to write about the means instead.
The next President of the United States, Rudy Giuliani, has never been a fundamentalist, but he’s certainly authoritarian. A few days ago there was a thread on Majikthise starting from his support for a ban on ferrets to explain his autocratic personality. As Mayor of New York, Giuliani brushed off police brutality, even when it killed many innocent people; as Associate Attorney General, he said there was no political repression in Haiti under Duvalier.
Although Giuliani himself is not a Dominionist, he has no problem supporting Dominionists, and laying the institutional framework that Dominionists can then use to usher in totalitarian rule.
While Bush has a fairly authoritarian personality, he doesn’t fetishize police power to the same degree. In Houston, the police just brutally suppressed a protest by the striking janitors’ union and then sexually harassed arrestees and practiced class warfare against them. Presidents don’t directly control the police, but they can set the tone by appointing pro- or anti-brutality U.S. attorneys and publicly supporting or opposing anti-protester atrocities.
Right now, the choice of President in 2008 seems to boil down to someone who’s going to make sure the police hurts innocent people as much as possible, and someone who supports a constitutional ban on abortion. Thanks to the lack of Democratic heavyweights, there is now also a strong opportunity for totalitarianism in the US.