Or can it? Americans are among the least historically minded of all peoples. Maybe it’s because of our relatively short history or maybe because we are always looking to the future. No matter what the reason, we have a tough time looking at the past for lessons, especially subtle lessons. Like how the German people succumbed to the rule of the Nazis. Did Hitler announce from the start that he intended to kill 6 million Jews and nearly a half million Romani(Gypsies)? Of course not!
Initially Hitler hammered on how ineffective the current Weimar government was in managing the economy and on how they didn’t stand up to their neighbors regarding the unfairness of the World War I settlement. Then he began to identify those German citizens who were making things even worse for their neighbors. At first there were veiled references to the rich moneyed interests but that was quickly dropped and the Jews were specifically identified as the internal enemies who needed to be “removed”. Then, it was said that these enemies needed to be rounded up, incarcerated, and “exported”. No newspapers ever announced that the real destinations were the death camps! Even though it was one of the worst kept secrets in Germany, Hitler’s final solution was never really announced so that all of the good citizens could rest easily with their consciences.
It is almost impossible not to be reminded of Germany when observing the actions and speeches of Donald Trump in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination. Of course the civil environment within Germany was much different than it is now in the United States. They had little history of democratic government and were experiencing a devastating inflation combined with a very ineffective government. On top of that there was a perception that public morality had sunk to extraordinary lows.
Despite the obvious differences, there are equally obvious similarities with the environment that Mr. Trump is attempting to mine, even though of a lesser magnitude. While the environment is not identical, the demagoguery is much too similar. And, what makes Mr. Trump’s actions and words even more worrying is the duplicity with which he engages with the media. How he can call his gatherings a “love fest” in one moment while the videos show him threatening to beat up protestors or wish that the protesters could be handled like they used to be. All this shows a very disturbing propensity to promulgate the “big lie”.
While it is much too soon to imply or even guess where Trump is heading, it is never-the-less past time to call him to account for his incendiary and race-baiting actions and words. Unfortunately, just as with Germany, it is those closest to him, the GOP, that are best positioned to rein him in and it is they who seem least likely to do so! One can only hope that civil courage has not totally disappeared from the Republican Party.
Many years ago the GOP decided that it was necessary to expand the tent in order to win. The method that they chose has been known under several different guises, probably the most recognized was the “southern strategy”. Essentially the GOP rebranded itself as the party of social conservatives, anti-abortion, anti-science, pro-religion, anti-government. This tactic proved to be quite successful: Nixon, Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2 plus dominance in state houses as well as the US Congress.
Unfortunately, the schitzophrenia at the base of this strategy has finally worked its way into the open! The economic underpinnings of this arrangement have finally shown themselves to be untenable. The social conservatives have never really shared the economic outlook of the GOP establishment but up to now had either been willing to overlook those differences for the sake of their social agenda or had not even considered these economic anomalies within their party. However, over the years their economic situation has deteriorated so much that it can no longer be ignored. Therefore when someone like Trump comes along who is willing to give voice to their feelings of betrayal while at the same time mouthing the social conservative gospel, they are more than willing to jump on his bandwagon.
Does all this mean that issues like economic inequality, increased taxes for the rich, greater regulation of the financial industry, etc will suddenly gain greater resonance with social conservatives? Much too soon to tell but it will certainly be interesting to watch!
Are there no rational gun owners? Where are the real sportsmen? When I was young, hunters actually prided themselves on the fewest shots it took to bring down their buck. Now they actually pride themselves on their ability to spray the entire landscape!
When it comes to protection, I don’t know about others but if I’m defending my home, a confined space, a 12 gauge shotgun seems much preferred to a pistol or a semi-automatic rifle.
For people who pride themselves on being macho, it is amazing that all these NRA members don’t mind being led around by the nose by the gun industry and their well paid public representatives.
Speaking of idiots — how about our brave congressmen who have regularly caved to the NRA’s threats and have continued to refuse to fund the NIH and CDC to conduct surveys on the impact of our gun culture on annual deaths and injuries due to guns. The best way to prevent the NRA members from owning guns is to require an IQ test prior to purchase.
It amazes me that these idiots with their automatic weapons really think that they will actually fight off the combined strengths of the branches of the US military! A bit ironic that these same geniuses are usually the same people pressing for an ever bigger and stronger military.
When ideas (or people) rise to the level where they are not susceptible to criticism, bad things usually follow. “Democracy” is long overdue for that critique.
The short-sighted, history-deficient electorate assumes that democracy as they currently view it has always been recognized as paramount, as the best method of government. That is far from the truth. The founders of our republic were not fans of democracy. They were afraid of the “people” which is why they they put so may barriers in the way of the “people’s” actions, why they insisted on having the Senate chosen not by the people directly but by state legislatures, why they allowed limited suffrage to be used in the election of the federal offices. The wisdom of their beliefs is quite evident in the current chaos of US politics. “The people” is at last triumphant! “The people” in all their ignorance has at last taken control of the government.
The “people” are at last in charge through their elected representatives — yet the “people’s ” press chooses to blame the representatives, not those who placed the representatives in their positions. When the “people” continue to return known crooks, sexual predators, incompetents to office, isn’t there a point when we stop pointing to the representatives and start looking at the electorate???
The difference between “stupidity” and “ignorance” is usually ignored or glossed over in daily communication. A pity because it says so much about us.
Stupidity is a lack of intelligence. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. The problem today is that more and more stupid people have become less ignorant and have assumed the roles of politicians and members of the media. That still leaves plenty of stupid people to vote for them and follow their exploits on radio, television, in print, and on the silver screen.
A stupid person with knowledge is like a pyromaniac with dynamite, sooner or later lots of people are going to get burned!