Do you want to know what the United States could look like if Donald Trump is elected and his policies are approved by Congress? Let me use words and pictures to describe that United States to you.
Inside the borders of the United States, the line separating church and state is blurred as more and more right-wing senators and representatives are elected. Plaques bearing the Ten Commandments are posted in courtrooms across the country, and prayer has also made its way back into schools. Christianity is informally recognized as the religion of the United States.
To the south, border controls are strengthened. This increased control essentially closes the border, preventing people from crossing into the United States, while also preventing people from the United States from crossing into Mexico. Also a result of the increased border control is the separation of family members, as many families living near the border have loved ones on both sides. Children in both the United States and Mexico grow up without grandparents, aunts and uncles cannot see their nieces and nephews, and in the saddest cases, fathers and mothers are separated.
With the help of a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court Justice appointed after the election, the same-sex marriage ruling is overturned. The members of the LGBT community, who were married in the United States while same-sex unions were legal, now find themselves without the rights afforded by marriage. This sudden societal regression leaves them feeling like second-class citizens. Some even fear for their safety, because limiting the rights of their community members has gained massive support across the United States.
The country’s military has also grown, although the majority of service members are stationed inside the borders of the United States. Soldiers are deployed to help with security at the southern border and, surprisingly, at the northern border as well. The long, wide Canadian border has become viewed as a porous, thus dangerous, border through which Middle Eastern terrorists, disguised as refugees, can flow into the United States. This view has made the presence of soldiers at that border necessary in order to keep out anything that might be considered anti-American or that could endanger the population of United States.
In the United States, unemployment has decreased with the expansion of the military and the massive growth in jobs stemming from increased spending on national infrastructure, including the southern border. However, the cost of both raw materials and daily necessities has increased because of the collapse of international trade deals and the sudden drop in imports from countries like China and Pakistan. The people of the United States, who have become accustomed to buying cheap imported goods, are shocked at the prices they have to pay for items produced in the United States. The increased cost of necessities is, unfortunately, accompanied by stagnant wages due to the increased cost of manufacturing.
Whether the view of the United States I have presented reads like a dream or a nightmare, it is important to understand that the mental picture created by my words is not a figment of my imagination. What I have just described as the future of the United States is actually a description of Spain under Fascist dictator Francisco Franco.
Under Franco, Christianity was not only accepted as a state religion, but required. Franco instituted National Catholicism, which led to religion in schools. According to “Education, Fascism, and the Catholic Church in Franco ‘s Spain” by Joan Domke, ” Children were taught in school that Christ’s and Spain’s destinies were one and the same.” During Franco’s regime, religion also inserted itself into the system of taxation, and a portion of all Spaniards’ wages ended up in the Church’s coffers. Is this the direction in which religion is headed in the United States?
The closed-border story is the story of the Spanish-Gibraltar border closing that lasted from 1969 until 1985. According to a New Statesman article written by a resident of the area, the border was built pre-Franco to stop the smuggling of tobacco. Under Franco’s regime, border controls increased as Spain attempted to restrict the movement of French Moroccans (who were, incidentally, Muslim, and which is very similar to Trump’s insistence that Muslims’ freedom of movement United States be limited). Finally, the border closed completely, leading to the separation of families, an influx of North African workers into Gibraltar to take the place of the Spanish workforce that could no longer cross the border to work, and massive unemployment and economic decline in Spain in the area around the border.
In Franco’s Spain, homosexuals were viewed as dangerous to society. Not only did Franco restrict the rights of homosexuals, but they were also actively persecuted. According to an article on homosexual persecution under Franco in The Guardian, homosexuals, numbering in the thousands, were put in jails, internment camps, and mental facilities during Franco’s regime. In 2001, the Spanish parliament finally voted to clear the records of those identified as criminals because of homosexuality. Is the United States moving toward mid-20th century fascist policies?
During the Spanish Civil War, the power of the military increased. This increase in military power continued throughout the Franco regime, as one of the dictator’s primary goals was to limit outside influences on the country’s people. With his isolationist policies in place, Spain remained decades behind the rest of the world until the end of Franco’s rule, the influx of British tourists and the emergence of the European Union. Is isolationism even possible for the United States in today’s global society? If it is possible, how detrimental would it be to the United States on all levels?
Economically, Spaniards suffered terribly under Franco. In a paper entitled “Economic Reforms and Growth in Franco’s Spain“, the authors describe the economic state of the country in the early years of Fascist rule.
“The new regime introduced a set of anti-market policies that altered the previous behaviour of the Spanish economy dramatically. These measures resulted in high inflation rates, the development of ‘black’ markets, and a contraction in international trade.”
Only when Franco changed his international economic policy from one of a “dramatic closing down” to an “opening up to a historical maximum” did the economy of Spain experience substantial growth. The United States is only now emerging from the recession that began in 2008. Can the country afford to adopt any policies that could push it back into recession?
In my view, the most important thing to take away from this article is that history repeats itself. By understanding what has happened before, whether in or outside of the United States, it is possible to create a fairly accurate picture of what is likely to happen again.
Gaining the ability to see the road down that the United States is travelling is not difficult. All one has to do is read a bit of world history. If reading world history makes you uncomfortable because of the images that the words bring to mind, those images should be viewed as signs that the United States is headed in a very wrong direction.
[Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images]