I have thought for weeks now about writing a post with that title, taking a cue from Donald Trump about how to attract attention. However, I waited too long to be outrageous.
Since the “keep out all Muslims” comments, comparisons with the vile dictator abound, even among Republicans. Hitler is not mentioned as often as fascism, totalitarianism and racism, but who do those words conjure up more than the fuehrer?
I actually began recalling Hitler weeks ago when Trump stated we must deport some 11 million illegal Mexican immigrants and that he would develop a force to do that. Later he tacked on doing it “humanely ,” but the image of Nazi storm troopers rounding up Jews remained. Since then he has seemed a little more Hitler-like with each passing day.
With the recent comments about barring Muslims from visiting this country Trump set a new low in outlandishness, so much so that many Republicans decried his words, including the god father of Republican tough talkers, Dick Cheney. One might think Trump had finally, finally gone too far. But wrong again. Not for his base who see the media and the political establishment of both parties as the enemy.
So what if the Donald exaggerates and generalizes to the point of incomprehension. He gets the gist right. I saw a poll that 56% of American voters believe that the principles of Islam conflict with American values. With that sort of sentiment around refusing Muslims access to this country doesn’t seem so far fetched, especially after the recent massacres by Muslim jihadists in Paris and San Bernardino, CA.
And it would only be temporary until our government sorted things out, says Trump.
What does that mean? Two months? Two years? Two decades? Well, we’d have to see.
One might reasonably point out that we need Muslim support in the Mid-East to destroy ISIS and that actions here at home against Muslims are not likely to help in that, not to mention it plays into the scenario ISIS vividly describes through social media that this is a war between religions and all good Muslims must pick a side.
But a demagogue like Trump does not appeal to reason. He appeals to prejudice, fears, resentments and accumulated anger. So many are so sick of so much in present day America, they are particularly susceptible to a demagogue. This especially because we have reached a stage of what has been called fact-free politics.
Since those who support Trump don’t give credence to the reasoned statements of main stream media nor the Republican establishment, the more he is criticized by them the more they like Trump. He alone is willing to toss out political correctness and speak the truth to power. His supporters are so sick of so much they are willing to roll the dice and take a chance that Trump’s leadership can “make America great again”, as he promises to do every day.
That is the promise of every demagogue.
In his ability to voice the anger and frustration of these people, feelings I’d say a majority of Americans share to lesser degrees, Trump is very much like Hitler. Like Hitler he knows there is a lot of fear and resentment throughout the land and like Hitler he is great at portraying himself as the only man smart enough and strong enough to really make things right again.
Having said that I do not think Trump is a megalomaniac like Hitler. Nor do I think he is a hater like Hitler. He does not want to conquer the world nor commit genocide. What he is a narcissist willing to be as reckless in his statements as need be to continue to command the spotlight and to energize his base.
Of course, recklessness tends to cause harm and in Trump’s case it could be harm to many in different ways, including the Republican party. From the point of view of the Republican establishment he is like a rocket out of control and since criticizing him appears to only provide more fuel, the hope is somehow he’ll run out of gas before blowing the party completely apart.
It makes for bizarre politics but captivating reality TV.