by Shelt Garner
Trump isn’t Hitler.
The thing I often say is that history is given value and a narrative after the fact to make it easier to understand. While you’re actually living through it, you have no idea what is going to happen. Everything seems a chaotic series of random events.
So, we look back at the rise of Hitler and see that it was “obvious” that someone like Hitler was going to come about for various macro reasons. In fact, I would say the rise of Trump in the United States has definitely give me far more understanding of the historical context of Hitler than I had before.
Looking at Hitler’s rise then at Trump, it’s easy to make the assumption that our goose is cooked. While Trump is unlikely to try to take over the world like Hitler, he is probably going to significantly re-arrange not only the United States but the global order once he successfully steals his second term. And, in fact, I have come to believe that that is a forgone conclusion.
And, yet, the Wilmer Republic and the First American Republic are sufficiently different on some major, existential metrics to warrant doing a little bit of comparative political analysis. I’m not an expert on the rise of Hitler, but I know enough to give you a reasonably educated opinion.
One of the key differences between Hitler and Trump is Hitler was dealing with a homogenous European country with a history of autocratic rule. The United States, meanwhile, is far larger, has a significant non-white population and generally has a strong liberal democratic tradition.
And, yet, obviously, America’s democratic norms, traditions and institutions are all rotting to the point of non-functioning. As such, an extremely compelling case can be made for Trump following an almost identical path to absolute fascist power as Hitler. And very soon — probably about 18 months.
There is a known unknown, however, that make me question that snap judgement. It’s Trump himself. Trump has benefited from astonishing existential problems in the American political system that pretty much protect him from any form of accountability. He, quite literally, is an absolutely deranged version of Being There’s Chauncey Gardner.
It’s very possible that Trump, being the deranged moron that he is, could make a massive strategic miscalculation. He is so used to getting away with everything, that he rather abruptly (using Barr) makes a significant power grab. The power grab is so brazen and ham-handed that it sets of a cascading set of event that lead to the one thing that Trump can’t afford — the average person getting woke.
Even with this unknown, I still think Trump is going to pull it off. And, really, there’s only one last thing that might stop Trump from totally consolidating power. If Trump does consolidate power, he has two “flavors” of fascism he might choose from. He could go to autocratic managed democracy like in Russia, or he could go the Hitler route which is far more capricious, vicious and cruel.
If Trump had but a mere modicum of self-control or actual political ability, he has the Russian-style autocratic managed democracy in the bag. He can do that no problem. And, in all honesty, I think that’s our fate. It’s all over but the shouting. Just like impeachment, I’m going to do all this speculating about possible outcomes other than acquittal and then the very outcome I knew was going to happen all along, happens.
But we know that not only is Trump a self-own artist, he’s stupid and greedy, so it’s at least possible that he will attempt to go the Hitler route and go full despot before America’s self-perception has changed.
It’s at least possible that should he go full-despot and a lot of center-Right but not MAGA people are finally, finally, FINALLY forced to have an opinion about Trump one way or another that they may say fuck this and side with the “resistance.” As such, the United States might be looking less at a Second American Civil War and more at a Second Revolutionary War.
What I mean by this is the existing power structure of the United States might be completely swept away. It wouldn’t be like the Civil War where the North’s economic and power structure took over the defeated South’s, thus uniting the country under a common vision.
Nope. It could be that the two sides go at it in such a way that new leaders woud bubble up to prominence for no other reason than a complete failure of the old order. I find this extremely unlikely, but it is something to think about.
I say this because most of the existing power structure of the center-Left is completely ineffectual. If there was actually some sort of “revolution,” they would be the first to go. People with vision and guts would take over and make a lot of very hard decisions for the country that to date we’ve simply muddled through or punted down the road.
But such a dramatic change would have massive consequences and require a tragic and significant loss of life. (So, I really don’t want that to happen.)
Let me be clear this post is more about me making my abstract fears concrete so they don’t bother me so much. I think, really, the only issue before us a few more people might realize the jackboot is on our face, but there won’t, in real terms, be that much of a chance in any one person’s daily life — yet.