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writing for godot

Hair Trump or Herr Trump, Revisited

Written by Steven Jonas   
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 16:51

"This nation will either kill racism, or it will be killed by racism."  (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

It seems appropriate to publish this column not too long after the second anniversary of the assumption of the Presidency by Donald Trump, a President, it is safe to say, unlike any the U.S. has ever had. Back in the Fall of 2015, as the Presidential primary season was getting into full swing, I wrote a column on him entitled "Hair Trump or Herr Trump." In it, I dealt with the number of fascist tendencies that already seemed to be appearing in Trump's person and politics. (And they were being noted by other observers as well, as noted in that column. See herehereherehere, and here.) As Trump proceeds through his Presidency, I thought that it might be useful, or at least interesting, to go back and take a look at the fascist tendencies he did, and did not, project at the time. And then to see what's is going on now.

In the original, I noted on the similarities that:

1. There's the racism, the xenophobia, and in Trump's case, substituting for Hitler's extreme prejudice against one religious grouping, the Jews, it's another, the Muslims.

2. Trump has the ability to whip up the right audiences into a frenzy. As well, there's the frequent name-calling in re opponents. (And now, in referencing certain opponents like Rep. Adam Schiff, Trump has descended into curse/name-calling.)

3. There's the "our nation must be great again" theme, prominently displayed.

4. For Hitler the great national enemy was the Soviet Union. During the campaign, Trump seemed to be openly aiming criticism at Russia. We now we know that for Trump Russia was hardly an adversary, but rather a place to build the then-next Trump Tower (and he did make a radical change in the Repub. Platform on the matter of Ukraine, little remarked upon at the time).

5. Then, as I noted, there were the vague promises of a great future, without telling much about exactly how they planned/plan to get there. There's the ample use of the Big Lie Technique. A characteristic that kept/keeps both men going is that they didn't/don't embarrass. They never had/have to apologize, explain, defend. They were/are the prefect avatars of the Roy Cohn/Lee Atwater consummate principle of politics: "Always attack; never defend." Finally, it is clear that Trump just loves personal power, just like Hitler did. (Actually, at the time no one could have predicted just how much lying Trump would engage in. Hitler [and his Propaganda Minster Josef Goebbels] reserved it for special occasions.)

6. While in 2015 Trump did not have mass following Hitler had, even before the passage of the Enabling Act which made him dictator, now Trump's solid "base" approximates what Hitler had at the time of the last free elections in Germany in 1932: in the 35-40% range.

7. Finally, while in 2015, in comparison with Hitler, Trump did not have a large, well-organized political party behind him, now of course, because of the Rightward Imperative and the primary system, Trump "owns" the Republican Party, at least electorally. Of course the Repubs. are shrinking and exactly how well-organized they are no one really knows, but they still are the national right-wing party, and for the most part, at least, they are Trump's.

Now as to the differences.

1. Trump does not have a private army. Hitler had the "SA," Die Sturmabteilung, the Storm Troopers/"Brownshirts." (I just learned that they wore the brownshirts because when the thuggish SA gangs were being formed from demobilized soldiers after the end of the First World War, brown military shirts that had been worn by the Prussian soldiers in that conflict could be bought really cheaply, as war-surplus.) It was large (up to 3 million mainly part-timers) violent, and active. Trump would likely just love to have something similar, but while there are plenty of armed right-wing "militias" around the country, their level of organization compared with the SA's is something they (and Trump, if he were to be so inclined) can only dream of.

2. Hitler was arguably history's greatest Keynesian political economist, relying not only on heavy military spending to pull Germany out of the Great Depression but on mass infrastructure and social spending (e.g., on strengthening German national health insurance) as well.

3. From close to its beginnings the Nazi Party relied in part on foreign money for its funding. (I have pointed out on a number of occasions that one George Herbert Walker [sound familiar?] was an early [from 1923] U.S. Nazi funder.)  In 2015, there was no public knowledge of the foreign connections Trump actually had, and that seemed to be a difference between Trump and Hitler. Now our knowledge of the Trump foreign connections, especially to Russia, is growing by leaps and bounds There actually seem to have been foreign campaign contributions through the National Rifle Association.  But that pales in comparison to the Russian election intervention on Trump's behalf.

5. In the 2015 column I pointed out that in contrast with Hitler, Trump has no firm broad-based belief system when it comes to policy. Even in defined areas like tax cuts for the rich, whether or not he believes the Republican myth that tax cuts for the rich and the large corporations make the economy grow, he has a strong personal interest in the matter, as he does in government regulation and trashing it. That is, as many observers have noted, his style is "transactional," that is it focused on the moment on his personal (in terms of either monetary or ego) needs and perceived political needs.

Where Trump Would Like to Go

And now, where would Trump like to go, in terms of the Hitlerian/Nazi example, in summary form.

1. It has been clear since the beginning of his Presidential campaign that Trump would really be much happier as Dictator than he is as President. Indeed, as has been pointed out by numbers of observers, if the Democrats in the House allow him to win the current government shut-down battle over the Ann Coulter Celebration-of-Xenophobia-Racism Wall, which, apparently a majority of the U.S. people as well as majorities in both Houses of Congress are against, an example would be set for future battles which, still holding a minority position, Trump could still win.

2. Before taking power, Hitler railed against "Die Luegen Presse," "The Lying Press." Within a couple of months of taking dictatorial power in March, 1933, Hitler had simply shut down the independent newspapers in Germany. Man. Wouldn't Trump like to do that. Like Trump, Hitler railed against the independent judiciary. After taking power, Hitler simply eliminated it. Trump would like to do that too. But in the absence of being able to do, he is always criticizing any judges who make decisions he doesn't like on a highly partisan basis, while at the same time he is seeding the Federal bench with young, determined, far right-wingers.

3. Hitler had an expansive foreign policy based on the use of the ever-growing German military. Trump appears to have a contractive foreign policy, but as in Syria with the "withdrawal," it seems to be all over the place. However, regardless of what Trump wants to do with the troops (see deploying them to the Southern border to string barbed wire), he is certainly a strong supporter of military spending. Hitler was too, of course, but as pointed out, he had a clear policy direction in which he was intending to go with it, something Trump does not have.

4. As I pointed out in my previous column in this series, Hitler used the Big Lie of the "Communist-set" Reichstag Fire (it was really set by an SA gang led by Hermann Goering) to proclaim a "national emergency," that led directly to the establishment of his dictatorship. Trump has toyed with the idea of declaring a "national emergency" at the southern border when then clearly is none.  Of course, if there ever were the Ann Coulter Wall, which would take years to plan, get through the numerous legal challenges that would come its way, and then build, it would obviously not be dealing with any "emergency.”  But he would be using his fabricated one as his Big Lie to lead to a major expansion of his executive power through the use of strategically timed government shutdowns.

And so, does what we have learned about Trump since the time when I wrote the original "Hair Trump/Herr Trump" column incline one more in the direction of seeing "Hair Trump" as "Herr Trump," or less? It does seem that the evidence is more and more pointing in the "more" direction, does it not? If that is the correct conclusion, we should be most thankful for the Mueller investigation and the Democratic House. We should also be thankful that there is an increasing level of anti-Trump activity on the community level, forming the "Resistance" of various forms and types.

Of course, one big difference between Hitler and Trump is that unlike the former, Trump appears to be a common criminal. For example, what is coming out now in the matter of possibly suborning perjury (although there is certainly disagreement on that one at this time) seems only to confirm that characterization. It took a World War and the loss of up to 80 million lives to bring Hitler down. Trump might be brought down by a provision of the U.S. Constitution called "impeachment."


This column has been previously published at: your social media marketing partner

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