I can only hope that either this historian is wrong about the direction our country is heading–or that we will truly stop the progress of fascism in its tracks by a supposed “Blue Wave.”
The appointment of Kavanaugh despite huge and intense opposition has exposed yet more of the massive corruption in the GOP: Kavanaugh is a puppet, chosen for his ability to help Trump defy prosecution, while, at the 11th hour, Mitch McConnell threatened Collins into voting for him. The FBI was forced by the White House to ignore some 40 corroborating witnesses in a merely nominal “investigation” for the sake of appearance, while we now have e-mail exchanges proving that Kavanaugh tried to keep his old classmates quiet.
We’ve been seeing these dirty politics and massive corruption for years in Wisconsin, ever since Walker got voted in, and now it’s happening at the federal level with the Trump regime. Yet Christians have been duped into thinking the fat cats are somehow the “Christian” party, that the Democrats are the party of God-hating atheists.
A Holocaust historian, Christopher R. Browning, has written The Suffocation of Democracy, an essay for The New York Review of Books. He compares our current political, economic, and cultural situation to that of the US and Germany between the world wars.
He compares Mitch McConnell to Paul Von Hindenburg, the president of Weimar Germany who made Hitler the chancellor.
He notes our similarities and differences to pre-Nazi Germany, but even the differences are alarming. For example:
Upon his appointment as chancellor, Hitler immediately created a new Ministry of People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, who remained one of his closest political advisers.
In Trump’s presidency, those functions have effectively been privatized in the form of Fox News and Sean Hannity. Fox faithfully trumpets the “alternative facts” of the Trump version of events, and in turn Trump frequently finds inspiration for his tweets and fantasy-filled statements from his daily monitoring of Fox commentators and his late-night phone calls with Hannity.
The result is the creation of a “Trump bubble” for his base to inhabit that is unrecognizable to viewers of PBS, CNN, and MSNBC and readers of The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The highly critical free media not only provide no effective check on Trump’s ability to be a serial liar without political penalty; on the contrary, they provide yet another enemy around which to mobilize the grievances and resentments of his base. A free press does not have to be repressed when it can be rendered irrelevant and even exploited for political gain.
For another example, we have free elections and a Constitution, but the machinations of the GOP in Congress, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, have been making it practically impossible for Democrats to be elected or to get anything they want, no matter how much the voters protest, call, and write letters. As I’ve noted repeatedly, if we write to a Republican Congressperson, we’ll probably be ignored with some form letter version of “Sorry, but you’re wrong and we’re doing what we want,” since they’re only concerned with their rich donors and constituents who agree with them. As Browning writes:
If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could.
As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more.
Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations.
Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.
One can predict that henceforth no significant judicial appointments will be made when the presidency and the Senate are not controlled by the same party. McConnell and our dysfunctional and disrespected Congress have now ensured an increasingly dysfunctional and disrespected judiciary, and the constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government is in peril.
Just as I’ve been doing for two years, Browning compares the conservatives of Hitler’s day to the conservatives of ours, riding the popularity of a charismatic candidate into power–and hoping to use him and keep him under control while in office.
Browning hesitates to call Trump “Hitler” or the GOP Nazis, and doesn’t see them carrying out genocide etc. But he notes how easy it would be for them to get us into wars, the massive damage that is being done to our democracy and our climate, and how our polarization will keep getting worse.
Read more here.
My own additional thoughts:
You’ll also note how Walker and now McConnell have declared themselves “unintimidated” by protests–effectively making protesters into mobs that must be suppressed, rather than American citizens exercising their rights. And this is being cemented over the weekend by Trump and Republicans who’ve been declaring us Democrats an angry, unruly mob that doesn’t understand law and order, that must be put down.
Our legitimate concerns and reasons for objecting to Kavanaugh are, once again, being reduced to being upset that we “didn’t get our way.” Our protests are being called “mobs.”
In other words, we’re being called another enemy of the people. Just as Trump has been labeling the press. Trump’s base, along with other Republicans, are being stoked into thinking they must fight us and put us down, for the sake of Murica. This is dangerous, the kind of rhetoric that leads to concentration camps and genocide. We’ve seen it over and over again–not just Hitler, but over and over throughout history and into the present time.
The GOP doesn’t seem to realize that they’re legitimizing the arguments of the Antifa, who say that only violence can change things. The more the GOP ignores the constitutionally-protected protests of citizens, the more those citizens may start turning to the Antifa, out of desperation. We’ve already seen fighting in the streets between the Antifa and Alt-Right, just like Weimar Germany saw street fighting between Communists and Nazis.
How do you think dictators get into power? By declaring their opponents enemies of the people. By suppressing their voices so they no longer have any say in the governing of their own country.
Lately, a huge chunk of conservative Christians have been treating Trump as the Messiah when he actually could be an Antichrist of our age. Antichrists are not a one-time end-of-the-world phenomenon; they pop up throughout history. Putin appears to be another Antichrist, along with other dictators of our time.
They’re working against Christ by violating His commands to love, to help the poor and needy, to do good. While proclaiming abortion and gay rights the anathemas that must be suppressed no matter what, and making themselves the victims, Christians have sold their souls to the Devil while claiming to speak for God.
But there still is something we can do: Show up at the polls in November. Don’t sit at home thinking a Blue Wave is assured. Start voting every time there’s an election, even a primary. Even a city council election is important.