Why Trump’s Experiments With Fascism Will Fail

Credit: fortune.com

In his first 50 days in office, President Trump has made innumerable unsubstantiated assertions and false statements, claiming untruthfully that millions of Americans voted illegally, that terrorist attacks in the U.S. are not being reported by the media, and, most recently, that Barack Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower. He has also attacked civil liberties, threatened individuals and institutions that appear to stand in the way of his agenda, and declared outright war on the press. It is time for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to make common cause in what has become, remarkably, the greatest threat to the United States of America in 2017: not religious extremism, nor an adventurous and totalitarian Russia, but the specter of homegrown fascism.


It is a most dangerous time in America. Trump borrows from the playbooks of Benito Mussolini, Slobodan Milosevic, and Vladimir Putin. Like Mussolini, he spins a “mutilated victory” narrative that discards the truth of America’s long and steady march toward enhanced strength and prosperity in order to support his claims that America needs to be made great again. Like Milosevic, to consolidate power, he invokes nationalist sentiment and stokes primitive fears and anxieties that survive by channeling insecurity into hatred and then masquerading as racial superiority. But most of all, he emulates Putin. He does so when he weakens civic institutions, creates crises, and sabotages alliances so that he might profit from the arbitrage opportunities that conflict and uncertainty oft afford.


He does so when he trades so unabashedly and unapologetically in strategic fictions and outright lies that it threatens to entirely dislodge facts and evidence from civic and political discourse. And he does so when he paints as "enemies of the people" the most vital of American institutions--the free press--whose role is to ensure that no one dares to put himself above the law. As any reader of history will attest, we have seen these strategies employed before.


But this is not the weakened Italy of the inter-war years, nor the troubled Balkans of the 1990s, nor the battered Russia that Putin inherited at the turn of the century. Things work differently in the U.S. Despite recent events, most of us still prefer facts to fiction, and enough Americans retain an appreciation for the lessons of history. Most importantly, there remains a deeply held conviction in this country that when a young and still inexperienced America showed that it was possible to pursue freedom and democracy without sacrificing security or strength, it was the most important political contribution any nation had ever made to humanity.


Americans will not so easily relinquish the hard-won gains of liberal democracy to the first bully that tells us he is indispensable but that our liberties and ideals are not. As evidence, we need only to look to journalists who are fact-checking and speaking truth to power with increasing volume and resolve, judges who have pushed back on Trump's travel bans, and citizens who have taken to the streets to make sure their voices are heard. That Trump and his administration have been able to push things as far as they have is certainly cause for serious concern and reflection, but I remain confident that Americans have a keen eye for scams and can identify a harbinger of totalitarianism, regardless of the mask it wears or the promises it makes.


American values will prevail, and the bullies will be forced to retreat, or else drastically change their ways. Such course corrections are never swift enough, but history gives us some reason for optimism: The Sedition Act of 1798, which made criticism of the federal government or the president a punishable offense, met a deserved end; Sen. Joseph McCarthy, famous for his communist witch hunts and character assassinations of political opponents, was eventually censured for behaving "contrary to senatorial ethics" and bringing the Senate "into dishonor and disrepute"; and President Nixon was forced to resign after lying to cover up his knowledge of the Watergate crimes.


History proves that the costs of standing up to a bully are always lower when we make it clear that we are willing to bear them, and when we show that there is no scope for compromise where our sacred values are at stake. We are presented with the same test of moral courage that humanity has faced in every part of the world where a would-be dictator or despot or strongman has gambled that the masses are too afraid to push back, too self-absorbed to stand up, or too naive to realize that they are being swindled.






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In the spectrum of humanity, bullies are to be expected. But so, too, are those who will stand up to them. The American people--and especially judges, lawmakers, journalists, activists, and others who are tasked with safeguarding American liberties--still have to act in the interest of self-preservation. We would be wise to remember that our time and place will one day be just another chapter in the long history of the world. When that day comes, the personal and political costs we bear in the fight to preserve the rule of law and civil liberties--by voting, marching, challenging falsehoods, advocating for those who are unlawfully treated, defending freedom of the press, demanding investigations into potentially criminal activities, and holding elected officials accountable--however great these costs may seem today, will appear inconsequential; but the gains we make, however small they look today, will rightly be judged as heroic.


Deepak Malhotra is the author of Negotiating the Impossible. He is also the Eli Goldston Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

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If your content incites a user to take some “other action” on your page, like clicking a person’s name or the like counter or time, that's a page click.   Clicks are a way for businesses to measure engagement in a broad sense. If a post encourages a page visitor to click anywhere else on your page, your content may not have done the job, but it did a job. Page clicks are an easy way to see how your posts perform without digging into overly complicated insights that probably mean nothing to the average advertiser.   Why should you care? Because knowing that your organic Facebook posts are inciting activity of any kind is indicative of an engaged audience. It can be easy to see low engagement metrics in more obvious categories (video plays, for example) and think your content is underperforming or, worse yet, going unnoticed. Page clicks gives you an aggregate of “other” actions taken by your fans that can provide insight into the types of content that work best with your audience. 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When it comes to measuring results from your paid efforts this is obvious, right? If you’re directly investing hard-earned greenbacks into campaigns (no matter the size and scope), understanding how many people are seeing those ads is a foundational component of your optimization efforts. The same holds true for your organic Facebook posts: measuring their reach is key. If you’re unsure of how many people are seeing your organic posts, and how those people interact with said posts, and if they derive value from said posts, why post in the first place? What are Facebook Post Impressions? Simply put: the number of people who saw any of your Facebook page posts. Post Impressions is a valuable reach metric. It gives you an idea as to the number of individuals who have seen what you posted. If your post appears as an update in a user’s news feed and then they see it again shared by a friend, that’s still just a single post impression (whereas it would count as two page impressions). Notice that I said “people” and not “fans.” This is an important distinction (more on that in a minute). While fan-centric data is valuable, understanding how all people, including the ones who don’t know your business, engage with a piece of content, can provide insight as to how to optimize future organic (and paid) content on Facebook. Why should you care? Right out the gate, let’s be real with one another for a second: Who doesn’t want a 225% increase in any metric (outside of cost)? As I mentioned before, Post impressions are a reach metric; they allow you to understand how many induvial, fan or otherwise, are seeing your organic posts. When it comes to your existing fans, this is helpful .But it’s with those additional viewers that you’ll glean real value. When non-fan users see and engage with your posts, you’re ostensibly using your organic content on Facebook to function like the Google Display Network. You’re building brand awareness and providing value to potential prospects at no cost to you. Free clout with your future customers ain't a bad thing, people. Chart #5: Running Ads Increases Unique Facebook Fans Reached by 90% We just focused on overall reach, how your organic posts on Facebook are seen by more individuals when you advertise on the channel, too. Now we’re going to focus explicitly on the subset of people your organic content reaches who are already fans of your business page.   Simply advertising on Facebook will give your organic posts a 90% increase in unique fans reached, even if you don’t boost them after posting. The only thing better than an engaged fan is a boatload of engaged fans you didn’t have to pay for. What are Unique Facebook Fans? Drumroll please…. Unique Facebook fans are, well, individual fans of your page who are exposed to a given piece of content. These are your people, the ones who see and share everything you post, from cat memes to product demos. Kindly direct your attention to the actual and maximum free audience components in the image below:   As you can see, there’s a massive disparity between the two and, per Facebook, boosting your posts is the only way to close the gap, right? Wrong. Why should you care? Because the data we’ve gathered clearly indicates that, by advertising on Facebook, you can close the gap between your actual audience and your maximum free audience, without spending money to boost your posts.  *** In the same way that advertising across multiple networks improves performance, Facebook advertisers see a lift in organic performance when compared to businesses that don’t advertise. If you actively post on your business’s Facebook page and aren’t advertising, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. By running just one simple campaign, you stand to enhance key organic metrics by upwards of 100%. On the other side of that coin, if you’re currently advertising on Facebook but do little or no posting outside of what you’re already paying for, you’re losing out on significant brand-building opportunities and, more importantly, new, qualified Facebook users to whom you can advertise.   If Zuck and co. are willing to give a little extra ju ju to those folks who pay (even just a little) to play (including but by no means limited to your direct competition), your business can’t afford to miss out! A note on the data   We based our findings on the analysis of 6,439 unique Facebook pages. Some were advertisers, some simply had active pages but no discernable paid presence. Now, perhaps the most important caveat here is how we chose to define “advertiser.” An advertiser is someone with at least one active campaign within the last 90 days. Most of the Facebook accounts we analyzed and labeled “advertisers” had fewer than 5 active ad campaigns. With Facebook, thanks to the relationship between organic and paid performance, to reap the overwhelmingly positive benefits all you need to do is get started. You don’t even have to be a successful advertiser (though it certainly helps): you just need to be running Facebook ads and the boost to your organic reach metrics will materialize. Your business’s reachable audience on Facebook is drastically impacted by advertising: it amplifies the hell out of your content, improving reach. But while the caps for “Actual Audience” and “Maximum Free Audience” in the example above are exponentially lower than the “Paid Audience Potential” (611; 28,975; 1,920,000 respectively), there’s still a ton of value on the organic side of things. About the Author Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what's good for you, you'll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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