Americans are intelligent but history shows they could still elect a fascist, Hitler-like leader
// August 9th, 2016 // Politics and legal
In each election, I vote based on the current economic and yes, moral conditions – Republican or Democrat. In the 2016 primaries, even though I felt we needed four more years of Democrat leadership before turning the reigns back over to the Republicans, I voted for Donald Trump. When I left the polling booth, I told my wife, “I feel like I just voted for the anti-Christ.”
My vote for Trump was not what it appeared to be. I agreed with much of what he said but recognized that in the delivery of his message, there was much hate, arrogance, and intolerance – all the characteristics that make an effective fascist leader. Instead, I voted for Trump because I felt a Clinton vs. Trump race would be a no-brainer. But as the race progressed and Trump’s popularity grew, I began to wonder – could my clever ploy backfire?
How America could elect a fascist leader
To determine if America could indeed reshape the world by “accidentally” electing a fascist leader, we have to look no further than Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany was inconceivable, unbelievable, and sadly, irreversible. Although everyone is familiar with Hitler’s Nazi regime, many fail to recognize the subtle series of steps that allowed it to be.
Why did the Germans select Hitler as their leader?
The Germans’ acceptance of Hitler did not occur overnight but rather, a series of interconnecting events allowed Hitler’s ascension to power – and they looked remarkably similar to happenings in America today. Factors which influenced Germans included economic disappointment, political party infighting, fear of outside groups, shifting blame to others, and ultimately, a strategic gambit that blew up in their faces.
Germans’ economic hardship weakens Germany’s faith
After WWI, Germany’s weak economy buried its citizens in misery. Poor decisions by German leaders during World War I, including removing itself from the gold standard and using massive debt to finance the war, lead to high inflation (hyperinflation). As a result, the public lost faith in democracy which afforded fringe political entities a doorway to the Germans’ hearts and minds. In 1929, during their time of greatest weakness, the Great Depression pushed German citizens over the edge.
Political party infighting
Infighting and corruption within Germany’s political parties produced a profound impact on the voters. Germans felt their political system was a joke and as President Hindenburg began to rule by decree, citizens grew to despise and hate their government. As a result, the people lost faith in their leaders and moved to support alternative, more radical political parties such as the Nazi Party.
Terrorist attack leads to fear of outside groups
During Germany’s tumultuous 1930’s, there were several attempted coups. In 1933, the Reichstag was burned by a fanatical communist. The attack was used as evidence by the Nazi Party that communists were plotting against the German government. As a result, citizens feared the rise of the Communist party (the same fear took hold in the United Sates).
Seeking a leadership position, Hitler, who had the proclivity to say what the people wanted to hear, fanned the fire, telling the masses he would destroy communism. Feeding off the public’s fears, bizarre laws were passed such as mandates that effectively outlawed opposing political parties and prohibited certain leaders from running for office. Adding to the chaos, civil rights laws were suspended, allowing Germany’s leaders the power to control those whom the public feared most.
Blame placed on others
Feeling helpless and unable to control their own fate, Germany began shifting blame to others. They blamed the Versailles Treaty, saying the reparations placed on their shoulders were unfair and unattainable. With encouragement from the Nazi Party, they also turned blame on the Jews, who many felt controlled the country’s economic infrastructure. Citizens became outspoken and hateful speech flourished.
Germans’ accept Hitler as their savior
Although some recognized Hitler for what he was – a demagogue who appealed to people’s emotions and prejudices – he inspired the Germans. He promised to improve the economy, offered a better way of life, and swore he would destroy the things the German people feared most.
The popularity of the Nazi Party surged as an angry German population threw more support behind the savior that promised to right all wrongs. The final blow came from an incident many believe was nothing more than an act of political subterfuge. The President and other leaders felt that Nazi extremism would decline, that it was only a phase the disenchanted population would work through. They felt that placing Hitler inside the government, where he could be easily manipulated, would lessen the threat. They appointed Hitler as Chancellor (similar to the Prime Minister position in other countries).
When President Hindenburg died, as acting Chancellor, Hitler merged the powers of the Presidency and Chancellorship. The citizens spoke not a word (they had become accustomed to rule by decree). The ruse had backfired. Hitler’s accession to power was complete.
Sources: Wikipedia, BBC, Quora
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