Using the model of Adolph Hitler and Germany, Trump and his Republican enablers are working to create an alternate reality. Spouting lies and confabulations into what his ’Goebbels“ Kellyann Conway terms “Alternate Facts“, Donald Trump is weaving an alternative reality for his mesmerized supporters. Beyond his slavish authoritarian followers, Trump’s alternative reality has been accepted by his Republican followers in the Congress, who are being herded like dumb animals following a carrot on a stick. Now somewhat immersed in the alternative reality, we see the corporate, mainstream news media, responding like lemmings to the musings of our new President. The press and media are caught between their mostly weak ethical constructs and the fear of reprisal from their corporate bosses, if they are seen as not being respectful enough to Presidential authority. As for the rest of us, the majority of the American people, our perceptions run the gamut from outrage to fear to stunned disbelief that this is our President. Yet the Big Lies crafting the Trumpian alternative reality, will ultimately fracture the common sense distrust of many Americans, unless these lies are constantly debunked. The effectiveness of the Big Lie technique is based upon a constant repetition and a refusal by those lying to ever admit the truth. Let’s look at the mechanics in NAZI Germany, as compared to the current schemes of Trump and his amoral cohort to achieve the same destructive results.
Hitler arose in a Germany that suffered an ignominious defeat in World War One, which had been a blow to the Germans overweening national self-esteem. Germany had the draconian Treaty of Versailles imposed upon them by the victors and their already damaged economy was cracking under the burden of onerous reparations payments. They were governed by a cobbled together Weimar Republic, which introduced a republican governing form to a nation that had always obeyed and venerated an authoritarian, aristocratic oligarchy. Unable to accept the reality that their mighty country had been ignominiously defeated, the mythology of their country being “sold out“ by its leading citizens became widespread.
Into this ferment of myriad political factions, that ran the gamut of Left/Right politics, came Adolph Hitler. A tear gassed veteran of the “Great War“, Hitler took over the National Socialist German Workers’ Party(NAZI), a floundering minor Party, with a disingenuous name, that believed in an amalgam of nationalism, Anti-Jewish Eugenics and weird occultist philosophies. Hitler a fiery, charismatic speaker, with a talent for organization, grew his NAZI Party on a nationalistic program that promised a German return to past glory via militarism and an expunging of the “inferior elements“ that had weakened the superior resolve of the Aryan (German) People. The rest is history, as they say, so let us see where the hateful insanity of Donald Trump fits into this Hitlerian mode.
To my mind context is most important in seeing how America has come to this. The Great Depression of 1929 occurred in the U.S. as the direct result of capitalistic excess by our wealthy elite recreating America’s second Gilded Age. This wealthy, corporate elite ignored the dire state of most of the American people, based upon a philosophy that the people’s needs must be subservient to the needs of Capitalism. Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself a member of American aristocracy, saw the dangers to all inherent in this philosophy of only catering to the elite and like his Presidential cousin, Teddy Roosevelt, created a program to reign in capitalist excess and tend to the needs of most Americans. That program was called the New Deal. While the New Deal did not of itself end the Great Depression, it did save this country from a violent revolution. It provided aid and comfort to the majority of Americans and was a positive political and social force for the next four decades.
The American wealthy Elite saw FDR as a traitor and chafed under what they saw as the unreasonable restrictions on their wealth caused by the New Deal. Barry Goldwater, an attractive Conservative Don Quixote arose, challenged Lyndon Johnson for the Presidency in 1964. Goldwater’s ignominious rejection, galvanized the resolve of the most radically right wing members of the wealthy elite. This faction, was comprised primarily of members of the John Birch Society. The JBS had among its founders billionaire Fred Koch, father of the ultra-Right Wing Conservative Koch Brothers, who are among the wealthiest people in the world. The JBS form of laissez-faire capitalism was imbued as well with racism and anti-Jewish beliefs. From this group came the funding for both politicians and Right Wing Propaganda, that resulted in the elections of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Far more important and basic than electoral office, was the spread of propaganda de-legitimizing the government of the U.S. and disparaging the New Deal societal sense that we all were in this together. It didn’t stint on its’ bigotry either, as Nixon’s successful “Southern Strategy“ showed.
The election of the First Black President exacerbated the rampant racism of a faction of the American public. This large group, though in the minority, felt that Obama’s election heralded the decline of the power of White Males in America. This was strongly amplified by the huge growth of America’s Latino population. While overtly denying it, the Republicans in Congress, not only did their best to completely not cooperate, or even negotiate with President Obama, they also countenanced a plethora of covert racist attacks upon the man and his family. Donald Trump, a narcissistic billionaire who became mainly a reality TV star, with long time Presidential aspirations, saw his opportunity and took it by taking the lead of the racist “birther“ movement that sought to de-legitimize the President. This gained him a cadre of bigots and “Librul Haters“ that helped catapult him into the Presidential Primary sweepstakes.
The political landscape that the Trumpists surveyed, was of a country where most citizens were dispirited about the future. America had engaged in two futile wars against terrorism, the longest in our history. These wars had cost innumerable trillions and resulted in a desultory stalemate. Our economic situation had become among the most disparate in the industrialized world in terms of income equality. Joblessness was rampant. African Americans and Native Americans suffered the most economically and had begun to get quite vocal about the virulent racism being heaped upon them. The Democratic Party had been run by corporate centrists since the Clinton election. Its policies, supporting trade agreements and a world economic order that harmed American workers, lost it support among those parts of the coalition that FDR had created. These leaders, members of the Democratic Leadership Council, the dominant faction of the Party best illustrated by the Clinton‘s, forgot their own message of “It’s the Economy Stupid“ and ran a campaign based mainly on social issues that would be important, but only if the attack upon economic disparity held center stage.
The Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton, who rightly or wrongly, had been so disparaged through the years by conservative media, that she was the most unpopular Democrat possible. Since a main part of Clinton’s claim of superior experience came from her time as Secretary of State under Obama, of necessity she had to run as an extension of the Obama policies. Even our President’s most ardent supporters, would have to admit his policies were Centrist and heavily leaned toward corporate interests. His enthusiastic support of the unpopular TPP trade agreement was an anathema to unemployed, or underemployed American workers. The cracks in the Democratic Party’s solidity were exemplified by the candidacy of outsider Senator Bernie Sanders, whose followers exhibited a wild enthusiasm, as opposed to the more tepid support shown towards Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s initial campaign announcement was a bigoted screed against Mexican immigrants who he termed rapists and murderers. He followed that up with rants against an imaginary terrorism, highlighted by bigotry against Muslims, that then he conflated back to the immigration issue. As Hitler captured the bigotry of NAZI Party members, so did Trump capture the inherent bigotry of many Republican conservatives. At that point though, the Republican bigots were not enough of a base to ensure primary victory for Trump and so he reached out to the the Religious Fundamentalist Conservatives, who wielded great power within the Republican Party. While this might be best illustrated by his Chris Matthews, interview, where he stated that women who had abortions should be punished, in reality we can assume the support came about through many secret discussions with the Christian Fundamentalists. This is a reasonable assumption because eventually Mike Pence, the none too popular, religious extremist Republican Governor of Indiana, was chosen as his running mate.
The support of Christian Fundamentalists in America was analogous to the German Nationalist religious leader Pastor Martin Niemöller who became a NAZI Party member early on owing to Hitler’s Germany First message, only to wind up in a concentration camp, where his belated conscience kicked in. The widespread Fundamentalist Christian support for Trump, seems strange given Trump’s amoral and immoral history that reveals no religious belief. However, in exchange for support, the U.S. Christian Fundamentalist Movement had long sold out it’s faith in Jesus, for the thirty pieces of silver of political power.
What finally solidified Trump’s political fortunes though was his co-opting of the Bernie Sanders economic message of hope. American workers, hard pressed for employment and falling behind economically due to stagnant wages, were dispirited by the openly corporate centered economic policies of both Republican and Democratic leaders. Bernie Sanders spoke to the wrongness of those policies and was rewarded by enthusiastic support. Trump, perhaps the epitome of the elitism of the wealthy classes, recast himself as an “economic populist“ concerned with the suffering of the Working Class. The NAZI equivalent can be found in the “socialism“ that is part of its name and the vital support Hitler sought and received from Rich German Industrialists, on a quid pro quo basis.
The final piece of the Trump success though came from inside the institution of Government itself, as epitomized by perhaps its’ most respected Agency, the FBI. The Bureau has always been a public relations creation of its’ right wing, bigoted founder J. Edgar Hoover. Say what you will of Hoover (he was a terrible person), the man was a political and public relations genius. With J. Edgar’s headline grabbing, the FBI has been seen by most Americans as a pristine, apolitical organization. The still to be finalized evidence about this election, gives the overwhelming suspicion the the FBI Director, James Comey, interfered with the election in its final days, by disclosing a spurious investigation of Hillary Clinton. The analogy with Hitler, is that he became Chancellor of Germany with only 34% of the vote, because the German Military establishment favored him over his socialist rivals. They wrongly saw him as the lesser of evils.
We have now come full circle in this piece back to the Big Lies and Alternate Reality that is being created by Trump and his minions. In his narcissistic egotism, Trump is distressed that people keep pointing out that he lost the popular vote by 3 million. His “pain“ if you will, was heightened by a poor inaugural turnout and by wildly successful marches against his Presidency on the following day. This President, is a delusional person, who has proven himself to be a pathological liar. In a meeting with Congressional leadership he proclaimed that there were 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast and none of them were for him. Had those “illegals“ not voted, Trump believes he would have won the popular vote “bigly“. This delusional story is based mostly a discussion that Trump says he had with a Professional Golfer, Bernhard Langer, who lives in Florida. Langer supposedly told Trump that while voting for Trump in this election, he overheard many illegal aliens laughing about how easy it was to vote. Other than the fact that our delusionally insane President was extrapolating 3 to 5 million illegal voters from this story, the fact that Langer remains a German citizen beggars any belief that Trump was not compulsively lying.
Now what I find so disheartening about this incident, is the reaction of many in the Mainstream Media. Our President is a counter-factual liar and this whole premise of his should be dismissed as an obvious lie, with no basis in reality. Instead the media, stupidly tries to debunk the Trump claim of millions of illegal voters factually, because most of them are afraid to call a lie for what it is. To discuss the Trump lie, by trying to factually refute it, actually gives credence to the lie by elevating it to the level of factual discussion.
Now Germany in the early 1930’s didn’t have an all encompassing media like today. This situational threat is similar though, because in refusing to call out the obvious lies of Trump by simply referring to them as lies, the media is falling for the same technique that made Hitler’s Big Lies so effective. The Hitler technique was repetition, repetition by variation and a complete refusal to acknowledge the obvious facts. Hitler had Goebbels. Trump has Kellyann Conway and Steve Bannon. As strange as it seems, I do see a difference between Hitler and Trump. While both men were and are sadistic, pathological narcissists and ruthless, authoritarian leaders, Hitler was perhaps more grounded in reality and probably smarter than the shallow, spoiled little rich boy who is Trump. Our country and the world is in dire trouble.