Tag Archives: demagogue

Lies Liberals Tell, Part 7

Lie#7: It Can’t Happen Here

Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban

I am not much for conspiracy theories. Most have no basis in evidence. So as a liberal I have always told myself that fascism cannot happen here. We have a long history of the rule of law and democratic traditions. There is no way the US could fall into a dictatorship. I firmly believed that.

Until now.

Students of history tell us that democracies have fallen in the past. Taken over by “strong men”. Men who demanded allegiance to themselves above allegiance to the law. Who demand loyalty oaths. Who tell the “Big Lie”. Rome , in ancient times, lost the Republic to a dictatorship.  It was not that long ago that the democracies of Germany and Italy fell to demagogues. Under Gorbachev, Russia was on its way to becoming a democracy, then Putin and the oligarchs took over. We are not immune.

What has been the great strength of the US has been the separation of powers. Checks and balances. The executive, legislative and judicial branches each checking the power of the others. The delicate balance of power.

So, when Richard Nixon violated the law the Supreme Court and Congress stepped in and said “No”. You cannot do that. You will not do that. We are loyal to the Constitution and the nation, not to you personally. We do not confuse the Presidency with the person currently holding that role. So Nixon was forced to resign or be impeached.

We have fewer checks and balances today. The Republican Party has , over the last 40 years, slowly morphed into a cult. It is now lead by Mr Trump. It is a personality cult whose loyalty is to him personally, not to the rule of law.  The Republican Congress sits by while Mr Trump obstructs an investigation into his financial dealings and connections with Russia.

Mr Trump acts like a mobster. Mr Trump attacks citizens who are Muslims. Mr Trump attacks the FBI. Mr Trump attacks the Department of Justice. Mr Trump makes wild and unsubstantiated claims on a daily basis. He attacks the free press. He attacks individual members of Congress . And the Republicans in Congress acquiesce. Worse than that, the leadership of the GOP colludes and enables this man.

There is only a check and balance system if the legislative branch decides to honor and follow the law. This Republican Congress refused to do so. They had become lapdogs content in the lap of the “Great leader”. Now that the Democrats control the House we are finally seeing some accountability. But only some.

The Republican Senate has decided that supporting this person who is undermining the basic institutions of democracy is the thing to do. The man is above the law.

Mr Trump knows he will not face any consequences from this Senate. He can fire the special prosecutor and this Senate will do nothing. Or worse. They will follow and encourage him. He has signed their tax bill for the wealthy. He has given them 2 Supreme Court members who will, in the future, support corporate interests over individual rights. They will now return the favor.

The president wanted a wall between the US and Mexico. When the Congress refused to fund that wall, he simply said he would ignore Congress and do it anyway. The Republican majority leader in the Senate has supported the president. He has said, in effect, that the president does not have any check on him from Congress.

Any student of history that understands the rise of Mussolini, Hitler or Putin can see what happens when power gets concentrated in the hands of the executive branch. With no checks . Germany was a democracy in 1932. By 1936 it was a dictatorship. One man did not “take over”. He had plenty of help when he attacked the press (lugenpresse) and the elected assembly.

So, it can happen here. Don’t doubt it.

Conclusion

Liberals need to stop lying to themselves about the far right that has taken over the Republican Party.  They do not hold to the same core beliefs as the founding fathers.

Liberals have been far too passive in dealing with the right wing in this country. We have been victims of our own belief in the American values and basic honesty and decency. Liberals understand that the conservatives, especially since 1980, simply do not believe in the US Constitution. They do not believe in the Bill of Rights. They do not believe in democracy.  Liberals must understand that and act accordingly.

The Republican party has ceased being the party of small business and fiscal responsibility. It has become a tool of corporations and a radical right wing. Worse, it has morphed into a personality cult devoted to the “fearless leader”.  Dangerous. Only the utter destruction of that party will open the door for real change.

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Filed under Congress, Constitution, GOP, government, liberals, neoconservatives, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, SCOTUS, Senate, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Understanding the Nazis

One of the great mysteries for normal people is how Nazism grew and eventually dominated Germany. 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 Jews, gays, intellectuals, journalists, gypsies, etc murdered. All due to one man, Adolph Hitler.

Yet, to the best of our knowledge, Hitler never murdered a Jew. Never sent a Jew to the gas chamber. Never extracted a tooth from a living Jew without anesthetics. Never separated children from their mothers and exterminated them.

All this was done by German citizens. Volunteers. You see, the Nazis did not force anyone to work at the camps. The death camps were staffed by volunteers. True believers.

Normal people wonder at this. Normal people cannot understand.

Yet, history is full of human behavior which is both cruel and vile. Savonarola and the bonfire of the vanities as he cleansed Florence of decadence. The Spanish Inquisition aimed initially at Muslims and Jews, then expanded to include all who may not be true believers. Pol Pot and his wholesale slaughter of millions of Cambodians. Wearing glasses was enough to get you executed. The Hutus murdering Tutsis and vice versa. The extermination of the Native Americans by the European invaders. The Bible tells us of the justified genocide by the Jews of the Canaanites. Not just victory, but complete extermination of a people. The Armenia massacres. Etc. etc.

Hitler was not alone. The history of the world is filled with stories of people executing each other based on ethnic origins. Or language. Or skin color. Or religion.

It seems as though this is a rather regular occurrence. It seems as though at least some people are easily influenced to murder, torture and degrade. It must be somewhere in the genes.

But what triggers it? In all cases it is the demagogue. The man or small group of men who lead others. They use fear of the “other”. The “other” is out to get you. The “other” is the fault of all of your problems. Fear is the strongest emotion.

And, if the “other” is a danger, what is the next step? Dehumanization. People don’t kill people except in self-defense. But the “other” is not a person. The other is less than a person. The other is sub-human. It (not he or she) can be dealt with. Confine the “other”. Deport the “other”. Exterminate the “other”. Spray the hornet’s nest. Set out the mouse traps. Shoot the varmints. The other is not worthy of life.

Understanding Hitler. Hitler understood the power of the “other”. The power of propaganda. The power of labeling. The power of prejudice. The power of hatred. He understood the very small step to dehumanization. He understood that people will do what is necessary if you can convince them to cross the line. The line of viewing other humans as less than human. As vermin.

So, watch the Trump rallies. Watch the snarls. Watch the hatred displayed toward the “liberals”. Listen to the “Lock Her Up” chants. Watch the leader foment hatred . Encourage hatred towards the other. And a candidate talks about roughing those who disagree with him.

And watch as “normal” people separate 3 year olds from their mothers . Watch as a judge passes judgment on  a 5 year old who doesn’t even speak English and sits alone in a courtroom. Watch as unarmed men are shot down in the street because their skin color tells you they are dangerous. Listen as the president’s spokesperson calls members of the FBI “crooked”. Wonder as the president of the United States call a free press the “Enemy of the People”.

Consider.

Are you really still confused about how the extermination of the Jews was carried out? Do you think that some of the citizens of the industrialized nation of Germany in the 1930s are somehow any different than some of the citizens of the United States today? Have people evolved to a higher plane in 70 years?

You want to understand the Nazis? Look around you.

 

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