Nov 6, 2016
How could an ignorant, racist, misogynist, isolationist, tax-evading, sex abuser, and financial fraud with orange hair and no respect for factual information be nominated by a major party to become the American President? Is he another Hitler?
I’ve been thanked for my efforts at trying to help international readers understand the American election. I wish I had something reassuring to say about Donald Trump. Admittedly it is not much solace, but most Americans, even those planning to vote for Trump, are wondering the same thing.
The only solace for the sociocratic readers of this blog is that in a sociocratic government those with no information or ability would not be directly electing a president. The decision would more likely be made in the Senate. And they senate would be accountable for their decision.
Trump. Another Hitler?
The forces that contributed to the rise of Trump have eery similarities to those of Hitler. The massive details of the military and political analysis of Hitler’s reign overshadow the social forces that allowed it to happen. Like Trump, Hitler was a product of the people and his ability to attract and manipulate the disaffected and angry.
A unique picture of the social life in Berlin in 1933, Hitler’s first year in office, is Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. It is based on the letters of a party-girl and aspiring writer who was the daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany that year. William Dodd was a University of Chicago historian appointed by Roosevelt to one of the least desired diplomatic posts. With nothing better to do, his daughter Martha went along and unknown to her father became a Nazi agent.
In the Garden of Beasts is chilling. Without the distracting details of Hitler’s amassing of troops and the building of bureaucracy to execute his plans, a narrative based on Martha’s letter reveals more clearly the social conditions that allowed Hitler to take power. The classes that could have acted were essentially dismissive of the shrimp with the shrill voice. The paid him no mind.
Elegant and lavish parties continued, now with Nazi officers in attendance. Martha considered it “interesting” when she was asked to meet Hitler as a potential lover. Like other world leaders, the American government refused to listen to Dodd’s warnings that Germany under Hitler was more dangerous than they wanted to believe. They preferred to stay willfully ignorant.
That world leaders fear a Trump presidency is not the strength that Trump seems to believe it is. Even Putin, who was reported to be looking forward to manipulating Trump, has stopped efforts to discredit Hillary Clinton so Trump could win the election. Even Putin is now afraid of Trump’s erratic behavior. Trump says yes and acts no. He ignores national security briefings.
Neither Were Taken Seriously
Like Trump with his orange hair, Hitler was viewed as a joke with his comical mustache. Neither were considered to be possible of success. The Republican party that voted to make Trump their nominee did not contest his ability to be president or whether he agreed with their conservative views. They didn’t try to stop him by joining in support of one of his competitors. They expected Trump to fail. And who expected Hitler to succeed?
Once nominated, party leaders did nothing to persuade Trump to withdraw. As a result, their party is in shambles from conflict and despair. The many Republicans running for re-election fear defeat in his wake. And everyone with any sense is afraid.
Like Trump, Hitler had no respect or interest in factual information. He gave bombastic speeches in which he said whatever would mobilize his crowds.
Violence Against Minorities
Like Hitler, Trump uses violence to intimidate protesters and threaten minorities. He encourages angry people who want an excuse to be physically and verbally abusive to be violent and even criminal. “I will pay for your lawyers.” Hitler gave soldiers and mobs the right to beat up anyone on the street who failed to say “Heil Hitler” and salute when troops or even one soldier passed by.
Hitler targeted minorities as the source of impurities in the true German race. The Jews were 1% of the population. Other religious minorities were even smaller. Nazi soldiers freely patronized gay clubs in Berlin but then gays were also sent to the camps. The minorities were isolated socially in the traditionally Catholic country so they were easily blamed for everything wrong with society—despite their low numbers. Trump accuses minorities of being responsible for the rising crime rates, even though crime rates are declining. He wants to export all illegal immigrants with no definition of illegal or realistic plans for doing so.
Hitler said the German race had become polluted by minorities. He fostered fantasies of the greatness of the once pure Germany and vowed to return it. Trump promises to “Make America Great Again.” And his voters see themselves in the middle of that greatness.
Isolation and Narrow Advice
Like Trump, Hitler was also isolated from the advice and influence of anyone except his chosen few—those who supported him without question. He could turn in an instant on anyone who expressed criticism of him. Trump turns on those who don’t like him.
All Trump’s advisors come out of or are associated with the same extreme right organization. And every month the number has become smaller and smaller as they resign in frustration or embarrassment.
A Dangerous Protest Vote
The support of Trump is a protest vote and very personal. His supporters blame the government for every economic and social ill. They believe nothing could be worse than what they have. They just want something different. Trump is as different as anyone could find.
The wealth in America is still upside down. The top 1% earns 25 times more than the other 99%. Every economic analyst says Trump’s economic policies will make it worse and increasing the national debt as well. His supporters don’t take this seriously. They have been promised change for decades by people who were supposed to have good economic policies and they are still living too close to subsistence.
America has a strong economy and jobs are increasing by ~150,000 a month. Wages are beginning to rise again. But the people listening to Trump and vowing to vote for him aren’t experiencing it. Or if they are, they don’t trust it.
Trump voters don’t believe that Trump is exploiting them to serve his own narcissistic needs. They want him to shake things up. They want to change. Instead of change, he will more likely cause economic gridlock and public riots.
The content of Hitler’s speeches was ignored. With Trump, they say, “Yes, he said that but he doesn’t mean it.” And they laugh.
False Explanations, False Promises
Trump supporters want new promises. Trump uses false causes to give them false promises that are too easily believed. Some political analysts say that people wake up in the ballot booth and become more realistic. And that many of the people who support Trump don’t vote anyway.