Thom Hartmann's The Uncanny, Frightening Ways That Trump's America Mirrors Hitler's..., is among the most well written descriptions of today's US politics. Milton Mayer had interviewed ordinary Germans who lived through Hitler's rise and WWII. We have much to learn from their experience.
One, a college professor, told him:
“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security....
“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ...
“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.
“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained...
Another one of Mayer’s Nazi friends told him:
"Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next.
“You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? – Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.
“Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows.
“Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. ..
"You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?"
"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes."
“That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ‘43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ‘33.
“But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
“The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.
“But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed."
“Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility ..." [emphasis mine]
Governed by surprise. Decisions like tax law made in secret. That's our country, right now!
Bills like the tax scam, drafted and designed in secret, released to the entire legislature on a Friday to be voted on on Monday or Tuesday... that's certainly government by surprise!
If enough congresscritters find that enough of their staffers' time is taken up with registering protests to these antidemocratic tactics (as well as to the parade of horrors the Greedy Old Party is pushing through), they might start thinking that their reelection (their prime goal while in office) is in danger, and they need to start at least pretending to care about their constituents.
Well the big difference is from 33 on the Germans were stuck with Hitler. Unless you think Trump is going to convince America to let him be fuhrer for life (and Hitler was much younger than Trump's 72) I'm not too worried. He's unlikely to get a second term, if he survives this term.
If he (or Pence!) is in office much longer, he's likely to stack the federal courts with judges who'll rubberstamp any line of reasoning that enables corporate control over all else. (And who'll pander to the religious right.)
He's already put a young super-Scalia into a stolen Supreme Court seat; too many decisions are already 5-4 or 4-5. The damage from another appointment -- and from district and circuit court rulings that don't make it to the Supreme Court -- will take many decades to undo.
There is nothing wrong with being conservative. David Silverman is a conservative atheist. Barry Goldwater was a conservative. Traditionally conservatives want less government, less taxes, less regulation, and less intrusion into our daily lives. The GOP has always been thought of as conservative. That has all changed today.
What we see in the Trump era is more like theocratic fascism. Greed and dominionist religion have entered the scene which brings in a push to cut services to the core while putting the teaching of creationism in our public school classrooms. Pence is ready to take over with this in case Trump is suddenly out of the picture. Little by little they gain in what they are doing. If you read you will see they want to stop investigations and even change our Constitution. This is not politics as usual. This is not GOP against Dems. You can only fight this as "We The People."
It is more than "party politics" and I'm sure they are watching similar events in South America for possible guidelines. What is going on here now is very similar to what happened in Germany in the 1930's. Note that Trump has his own security and has even brought his family in for important roles. Little by little it gets deeper. As much as possible is being done secretly.
Do we know any other US president with a private security detail? Fascism is here wrapped in the American flag.
"There is nothing wrong with being conservative." I agree, Michael.
There was a time when ethical standards could be relied upon among both liberal and conservative politicians. Today, as Matthew Yglesias put it,
Members of Congress who under other circumstances might be constrained by shame, custom, or the will of their constituents have learned from Trump’s election that you can get away with more than we used to think.
... we also know from experience that norms can sometimes shift dramatically in unusual circumstances.
The tax bill ... gives away the store to almost every lobby shop in town — with last-minute additions that personally enrich the Trump family and a decent chunk of the members of Congress voting for it.
Moral and political responsibility for the looting ultimately rests on the shoulders of the GOP members of Congress who decided that the appropriate reaction to Trump’s inauguration was to start smashing and grabbing as much as possible for themselves and their donors rather than uphold their constitutional obligations.
..., they are taking their cues from him — even though many of them spent the 2016 campaign openly recognizing that he was unfit for office.
I find it embarassing so many people are claiming a Fascist takeover. It's like claiming Trump, Obama, Bush, Clintion, Bush, and so on, were all fascists trying to take over the country. I'm pretty sure you can find instances of people holding up pictures of past presidents with that special mustache held up during those presidential terms. Can we knock it off with the conspiracy theories? Are we forgetting the President isn't the one who makes the laws; he implements them? He can't even stop a bill from becoming a law if Congress is unified enough to pass it of their own accord.
Easton I read your words and what you say is not even remotely what I was hinting at, let alone what I was actually saying. What special mustache are you talking about? Perhaps you should look up the word "fascist." Sinclair Lewis said long ago that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the American flag. I'm not talking about Obama, Bush, or Clinton and I'm not talking "conspiracy theories." I refer specifically to one Orange Buffoon that is in the White House now and the strange swamp of unqualified morons that he brought in with him. The VP is a dominionist. The secretary of education would love to have creation taught in our public schools. The FCC head was a bigtime lawyer for Comcast.
Most of the administration is right out of Mad Magazine and that includes the Bozo who came out of Reality TV and was propelled right into office. He's a rude, crude, insensitive, racist, non-caring, bigot and pussy grabber that wants to censor things at will and would even change the Constitution if he could. The GOP wants to please him and he pushes them to take away healthcare and benefits just so the top 2 % can have a bit more money.
I could go on and on here but I think you can see that I'm not a fan of Drumpf. Try fact checking him. Everything he has said has been collected and that includes his dimwit tweets. He contradicts himself all the time. He lies. He then lies about his lying. Then he says Obama or Hillary lied. It isn't about them. It's about him, and I can't get a straight honest answer out of any of his supporters because they are just like him. They want to talk something else or about somebody else, and they want to blame somebody else.
I'm seeing a year in office where all that was done is to take money from those that need it, and this will continue. Now wait for his wall to be built along the Mexican border. I'll make you a bet that all the drug runners and illegals will discover airplanes. Perhaps they have discovered them already. Then we can build the dome.
Michael, I was not replying to your comment; I was replying to the person who created this thread. I understand why you have mistaken my comment as replying to yours. The stylesheet for this website throws things off.
However, I will be replying to the latter part of your comment on my comment. =)
I'm not a huge fan of Trump, either. And it is ridiculous how he is behaving in office. Our American President has four main jobs as our Executive, and one of them is serving as the Head of State (HoS), which he doesn't seem to know how to do. It would be nice if he behaved better, but at least he's established himself in a way that the world doesn't believe he truly represents us in terms of morals or outlook.
Trump isn't the only person who has lied in office. However, he does lie a lot. People theorize he doesn't like in the way Hillary or Obama lied (that tradition of political lying people have become too comfortable with) but instead lies in the way a business man would lie to get a better deal. It's actually outlined in his book, The Art of the Deal. What is worse, this type of lying is proven to work. In fact, some believe he used that style of lying to get the first FBI director to resign from office by lying that he had recorded their secret conversations. It forced that director to admit to ethical and possibly lawful breaches. And it showed that FBI director behaving as a politician instead of a trusted officer of the American People. So, though Trump behaves badly for a HoS, there is some method to his madness.
I think it's important not to become tribalistic about how bad the President is. He was a tough choice between two bad candidates.If Bernie Sanders or Tim Huntsman, Jr. had made it then it might have been different. But let us not overlook when he does do some productive things.
I for one claim we're living through a fascist takeover, but Trump isn't a lynchpin in the sense that Hitler was. Nor do I suggest that the executive branch carries out legislative functions, though I imagine Trump would be glad to have the right of decree.
The quotes presented by Milton Mayer, above, count as oral history of a past take-over, not as conspiracy theory. You do acknowledge the value of learning from history?
Thank you for replying to my comment, Ruth.
It seems the CSS for this website can make it difficult to determine who is replying to who.
I mentioned the Separation of Powers to suggest we have things in place to help us proactively fight political rot like Fascism. However, I should have mentioned that it's not impossible, I just don't agree that it's happening. I would argue that there is a degree of Fascism on the left if it can be said there is Fascism on the right. At the same time, people have been saying Fascism this or that for a long time. That is why I pointed out how for a long number of previous presidencies that protestors would paint the "Hitler Mustache" on pictures of presidents to decry the rise of Fascism.
My comment was meant to express my frustration with the demonization of presidencies, and to point out it's been happening with every presidency. I think as a people we are better than that.
I should have also mentioned that I very much like the text that you quoted. It was also helpful that you highlighted sections of it to support your argument.
In regard to your ending question in your comment, I don't think it's productive to end with such a condescending question. I don't think I've burned your house down. Nor do I think it's helpful to burn bridges before they're built. If you've taken offense to my earlier comment then I'm sorry for offending you. If I respond to a post or comment of yours in the future I will be more careful to structure my reply.
As for me, I don't see what this "apples and oranges" rhetoric has to do with anything happening right now. I cannot see your "Hitler Mustache" as drawn on many people who were presidents in the past, or anyone else running for political office. You think this has been happening with every presidency.
I find your answers to be similar to Trump saying about Charlottesville that "both sides were equally wrong." To me this smacks of those who think in error that they are both a proud American and a Nazi at the same time. I'm sorry. That issue has been decided years ago. We even had a war about it. Not that I'm calling you a Nazi. It's just that I find you making excuses for those there are no excuse for. You sound to me like those who start talking about Obama and Hillary every time someone mentions the name of Trump. I see this as a way of bypassing statements about Trump in general.
I still recommend that you look up the word "fascism" and read all the various supplied definitions of that word. Try doing it without the mustache. Do I see those both on the right and the left that seem to be fascist? No, I don't. I see this in the current administration only, and what I see is viewed without benefit of political parties. In other words, we are facing an issue today that will take "we the people" to survive it. We are not in a situation that can be solved by Dems or Repubs. Political party has no answers.
What we are against today is a man who is crass, crude, and rude and was propelled into power at the top and the GOP was in the majority at the time. They quickly decided they could be just as bad as he was, and he showed them the way.
I will in no wise make excuses for this man or those in the Trump swamp. The only one I see in this administration who can qualify as a diplomat is perhaps Rex Tillerson. He is one of the few who took his job seriously.
You are right that I think this has been happening with every past president. Well, maybe except George Washington. However, the forms it takes differs with every presidency. I am attaching a link pointing out this very thing. It focuses on the "Hitler" name-calling. Though the link was produced by a student for a UC Santa Barbara history class, I find it examines the problem well. Please read it if you have the time.
I should point out I am lumping together Fascism, Fascist, "Hitler", and the like as demonizing and name-calling. The core of my argument is that by demonizing the "other" we are doing ourselves a disservice. In this case, we are ringing the alarm bells about Fascism which I am questioning. I understand how unpleasant our president is, and I am not saying he was a great choice, but the claim that we are experiencing a Fascist takeover I think is stemming more from passion than careful analysis. I'd also add we may be committing the error of looking for evidence to prove we're right instad of examining the evidence to arrive at a conclusion.
I'm glad you're not saying I'm a Nazi. I think you have to be white to be a Nazi.
On the topic of bringing up Obama or Hillary, people mainly do that to draw the conversation back to a perceived-even-ground. I think it's done because the party that does it worries the conversation is venturing off topic, or they worry the other party isn't being fair in their criticism. It's an attempt to reel people back in. The party doing it may be judging the conversation incorrectly, but it's not done with malice.