Is Donald Trump simply a maverick inoffensive contestant from a Jerry Springer reality show?
Many moderate Republicans sincerely hope so, and refuse the similarities between Trump and Hitler.
There are certainly some differences, and Trump is no match to Hitler in terms of racism, imperialism or intelligence. However, the similarities are too many, from an anti-capitalist and protectionist stance, to an exacerbated nationalism, both being compulsive liars, demagogues, militarists and paranoid self-centered personalities.
Yet what is more frightful in relation to a possible election of Trump, is that a number of economic and political conditions are comparable to those in the 1930-1933 Germany when Hitler rose to power. I shall deal here with the political parties only.
Just like Trump, for many years until 1928, Hitler was basically seen as a wild card. Still, Hitler’s Nazi party rose to power from a 2.6% share of the vote in May 1928 to reach 37.3% in July 1932, followed by a subsequent decline to 33.1% in November 1932.
This meteoric rise was the result of a combination of the misery caused by the economic crisis of 1929, the political instability created by the fall of the so-called center-right grand-coalition brought down by the People’s Party (DVP), the 6.3% rise of the Communist Party (KPD) to 17%, at the expense of the social democrats (SPD) which declined 9.5% to become the second party, the divide in the left and right-wing liberal parties (DDP and DVP), rising anti-Semitism and, crucially, the referendum held in Germany on December 1929 to introduce a 'Law against the Enslavement of the German People' which gave prominence to the Nazis.
Throughout this period, the German Centre Party (Catholic)’s share of the vote remained stable at around 12%. But, it headed the government and, together with the German National People's Party (DNVP), was one of the main “establishment” conservative parties. The successor of this party is now the CDU (Mrs. Merkel party) and it its ideology is close to the declining moderates still in the Republican Party.
So, the main political base for Hitler’s rise came from the other conservative parties – DNVP, DVP and DDP. Let me reproduce from Wikipedia some of its characteristics, so that we may compare them to the political factions in today’s Republican Party in America.
Classical liberalism of the kind espoused now by some Tea Party and Cato Institute activists, was also split in Germany between liberals on left (DDP) and right (DVP) wing parties.
The German Democratic Party (DDP) was founded by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party, left members of the National Liberal Party, and a new group calling themselves the Democrats. The party was attacked by some for being a party of Jews and professors. Among its well-known politicians were Hugo Preuß, the main author of the Weimar constitution, and the eminent sociologist Max Weber. Hjalmar Schacht, president of the Reichsbank and one of the founders of the party, left the party in 1926 and became a supporter of Adolf Hitler. This party today would resemble some of the Bernie Sanders supporters that refuse to vote Clinton or may even vote for Trump.
The German People's Party (DVP) was a national liberal party in Weimar Germany and a successor to the National Liberal Party of the German Empire. It was the right-wing liberal or conservative-liberal party, generally thought to represent the interests of the great German industrialists. Its platform stressed Christian family values, secular education, lower tariffs, opposition to welfare spending and agrarian subsides and hostility to "Marxism" (that is, the Communists, and also the Social Democrats). Today’s equivalent names in the Trump campaign include people like Ralph Reed and Paul Ryan on the religious/political side and Aleson, Deason, Ichan and Ross on the business side. Today’s Trump financiers are mostly involved in casinos and deal making, and not so much in the traditional military industrial complex.
The German National People's Party (DNVP) was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) it was the major conservative and nationalist party in Weimar Germany. It was an alliance of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and anti-Semitic elements, and supported by the Pan-German League. After 1929 the DNVP co-operated with the Nazis, joining forces in the Harzburg Front of 1931, forming coalition governments in some states and finally supporting Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in January 1933. Initially, the DNVP had a number of ministers in Hitler's government but quickly lost influence and eventually dissolved itself in June 1933, giving way to the Nazis' single-party dictatorship. The current day Republican equivalent is found among the more conservative Republicans and some Tea Party activists.
These three parties had their role in paving Hitler’s rise to power, the same way that several Republican factions paved the way to Trump’s nomination as Republican candidate for President in 2016.
Should Trump be elected, can we expect the Republican factions to merge into a neo-Nazi party?
The risk is very real.
So, what can Bush and other moderate Republicans do to stop this nightmare scenario?
They have basically two defense lines. First, recommending a vote for Clinton to stop it happening. Second, should this fail, to stop the Congress and Senate from approving an “enabling act” of the type that gave Hitler the power to obliterate the other parties and become a dictator. Not even if Trump portrays himself simply as a Putin-like dictator, and not a radical like Hitler, should the moderate Republicans conciliate.
In conclusion, Republicans have an enormous moral and historical responsibility in stopping the devil before it rises again. The Great American Nation and World Peace depend on their wisdom and courage!