Right now, lawyers do his bidding, then it will be generals. Trump is Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Or rather, he is in danger of becoming that Hitler–or of bringing us to that Hitler.
Take his use of lawyers. Has Trump ever shown restraint in his aggressive deployment of lawyers?
What makes one think he would show restraint in his deployment of other forms of power–the FBI, the CIA, police powers, and military assets?
What makes one think he wouldn’t institute marshal law after a major terror incident, then provide a laundry list of excuses (generated by his lawyers) for never formally relinquishing it?
What’s immoral here? So it’s not immoral to call Trump Hitler. What is immoral is to risk exposing our democracy to an illiberal and authoritarian direction by voting for Trump.
As Andrew Sullivan has noted, Trump may be an extinction level event for the American experiment, with historians writing a hundred years from now (perhaps from a freer country) that the American experiment in Republican constitutional democracy started with Washington and ended with Trump.
Trump is a game changer. He could quickly make the nation into something quite different entirely if he is not defeated decisively in November. George Will is right that it is incumbent on every American–especially Republicans–to work for Trump’s defeat in all fifty states.
BT and AT (before and after Trump). If Trump wins, at minimum he is likely to make our nation into something like that of Putin’s Russia (essentially a one party state, led by a strongman, and with democracy surviving in name only). And from there, by the precedent Trump will have established, especially if superficially “successful,” it could become ever more difficult for the country to return to the way it was before he came to power (BT–before Trump).
For instance, Trump may deploy tactical nuclear weapons in a first strike manner as President, reintroduce Bush torture on a broader scale, ignore the Constitutional balance of powers, go after the press, and undermine the courts in ways as yet unseen by our democracy. He could prove to be the ultimate stress test for our democracy, generating a Constitutional crisis.
We are not even in recession–and yet the country’s politics has produced Trump. A mercurial man with power is, by definition, unpredictable. And for what? The country is not in economic crisis. We are not even in recession. Terrorism is a lowgrade and manageable phenomenon, though it makes headlines. (The risk of death 20 or 30 years after exposure to body scan radiation is greater than dying of a terrorist attack over those same years, statistically.)
Thus, to give an authoritarian, panicky, and paranoid temperament the presidency, when we’re not even having a Weimar-style crisis, conditions the country for yet other strongmen in response to harsher future conditions. (Ironically, Trump is actually no Mussolini or Hitler strongman in character, only in style. He’s a “tough guy” who actually avoided when young his opportunity to participate in a war.)
Mass deportation of Mexicans and the building of walls. The resonances between Trump’s temperament and Hitler’s are unmistakable to anyone who has studied history. For instance, in the 1920s and early-30s, Hitler’s obsessive interest surrounding Jews was in achieving their mass deportation–as it is with Trump with regard to illegals–the vast majority of whom are Mexican. Trump has been essentially targeting an ethnic group all year in his rise to power. He seeks to round up eleven million people and remove them from the country, then erect a thousand mile wall to keep them from ever returning. But if he actually followed through on his political promises as President, the country would very quickly take on the feel of a police state.
Terrorism and marshal law. We should not at all put it above Trump to declare marshal law at some point in his presidency–and if he does indeed do this, then all bets are off. Hitler acquired his strongman powers after a terrorist incident–the Reichstag fire. The signal in the noise here is that Trump’s potential is Hitlerian. He will play that full role if he’s ever given the opportunity–and history could readily supply opportunities were he to reach the Oval Office. He is not, temperamentally, a democrat, but an authoritarian.
Americans in denial. There were Jews in Hitler’s Germany in the early 1930s who thought Hitler wouldn’t be so bad and could be outlasted–and they decided to stay in the country and not speak out. But then they discovered, too late, that they had calculated quite inaccurately. We are at that moment now in the United States. Far too many people are nonchalant about what Trump means. Rather than complacency, we should speak and vote for Hillary, and have contingency plans for ongoing resistance if Trump wins. Some of us should even have plans for leaving the country if Trump wins. (Does anyone doubt there are wealthy individuals and corporations quietly and discreetly making such plans?)
This scene from Poltergeist (1982) is uncannily relevant to this American moment. A spellcasting confidence man is at our door. Let him in?