Everyone should read today’s NY Times book review. It is a review of a bio of Hitler. Trump is not mentioned by name, nor should he be. But every other sentence of the description of the book under review is redolent of something we have seen. E.g.:
and last, but not least:
Think on that, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Pence, Mr. Christie, and all the rest of the idiots bellying up to Trump. And all you disaffected millenials who think to cast a protest vote.
What do I mean? Reasonable question and I don’t have an answer. But the parallels are chilling. I know that the idiots in the Republican party think they can rein him in. I can only, if he wins, that they are right.
I am also reading Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here about a Huey Long type demagogue who wins the 1936 Dem nomination and the election and proceeds to institute a dictatorship by arresting the members of congress who don’t go along and putting the entire supreme court under house arrest. But–and this is clearly and important but–he had previously raised an army of brownshirts. And that is one thing Trump has not done.
I think Trump is dangerous, but I also think he is too feeble mentally to carry off anything like that. He would lose focus and interest.
He is saying that Trump is a narcissistic, self-serving demagogue with many similarities to Hitler, and whose unlikely success has been driven, as Hitler’s was, by a disaffected populace unhappy with the status quo.
The fact that bigotry and other repellent viewpoints are front and center of the Trump platform and that he has the overt and enthusiastic support of white supremacists should be major red flags. So should the fact that his extreme aversion to criticism – the kind that has spawned a multitude of lawsuits by Trump against almost anyone who has ever opposed him – has driven him to suggest that if elected he will curb the freedom of the press to engage in such criticism.
The silliness and hyperbole of suggesting that Trump is the next Hitler and will turn the US into a replica of Nazi Germany should not obfuscate the fact that the man would, if elected, promote those repellent values. The actual threat to democracy is probably small although not non-existent – any democracy can be undermined and eventually destroyed by being chipped away one hammer-blow at a time, day after day and year after year. But the greater immediate threat that Trump poses is to the economy, to international relations, to social values and social stability, and to specific policy issues like immigration and race relations.
If you put all the “charismatic leaders” together, good and bad, it would be easy to come up with a list of common traits. That is not to say that Trump is good, but it is to say that common traits don’t mean all that much in telling you one way or another.
There is much to criticize Trump about. Trump is Trump, with not many redeeming features. Throwing “Hitler” in there is a good way of making sure most people will dismiss your criticism. And rightly so.