The United States is in a precarious political situation.
It is a country of fundamentally broken institutions: a vulnerable election system, a cruel criminal justice system, a corrupt political landscape, and a hostile public discourse.
TL;DR The pipe bombs sent to Trump's political rivals are an alarming development in the United States' march toward autocracy. While Trump is not directly responsbile for these attempted attacks, he created the political atmosphere that has produced this violence.
These problems are rooted in circumstances that precede the rise of Donald Trump, but he only exacerbated them. In fact, he exploited these political and social failures to ascened to the presidency.
That has been abundantly clear for years now.
But this week, the U.S. seems to have passed a critical point.
Over the course of the last few days, suspicious packages have appeared at the homes and workplaces of Trump's self-proclaimed political enemies.
The Obamas, the Clintons, the Bidens, Maxine Waters, George Soros, Robert De Niro, John Brennan, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the New York offices of CNN have all received what appear to be pipe bombs in hurriedly-addressed, soiled envelopes.
These deeds are a surprise to no one. Trump has all but advocated for such violent action against his foes. To be clear, the president in no way instructed the dispatch of these packages. But his rhetoric implicates him in his supporters' violence.
Recall the moment when Trump publically suggested that "Second Amendment people" could do something about Hillary Clinton. The revered Second Amendment to the U.S. constitution grants its citizens the right to own firearms.
Recall, too, when Trump asked his supporters to violently expel a protestor from one of his rallies.
Then, of course, there are the dozens of times when the president has insinuated violence without naming it.
Structural violence and cruelty are precisely the point of some Trump administration policies, as well. Structural violence is the purposeful withholding of resources that has a real, physical effect on vulnerable populations.
The administration's plan to deny trans Americans legal recognition is only the most recent example. The policy change itself is not an overt act of violence, but it will in effect cause physical harm by denying trans people the recognition they require to receive benefits and medical care.
Violence has always been inherent to Trump's political message.
But with these pipe bombs, this violence has become explicit and targeted.
As a nationwide manhunt launches to find those responsible for the packages, the president has remained largely silent as if in open admission of implicit guilt. Yesterday, he simply retweeted a post by vice-president Mike Pence.
I agree wholeheartedly! https://t.co/ndzu0A30vU— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2018
Instead, Trump has used the occassion to once again attack the free press.
A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
In a single stroke, Trump has managed to encourage violent action against his rivals and discredit the media all to elevate his own position and stage himself as a lone moral authority.
That is fascism.
When the state apparatus becomes a vehicle for self-aggrandizement, when violence becomes an arm of political maneuvers, when artificial nationalism reaches its climax, fascism has become real.
The American public has become numb to Donald Trump's wrongdoings. But today, from Canada, we can see that quietly, among the chaos, a switch has finally flipped.