I used to teach a course called Contemporary Political Theory in which I had students study Wilson, Lenin, Hitler, and Mao. We also read Jacques Ellul’s seminal work on propaganda. I mention this simply to say that I have actually studied the rise of Hitler fairly closely, I have read Mein Kampf four times, and I have looked closely at the propaganda Hitler used both before and after coming to power.
In my entire adult life, I have never compared an American politician to Hitler, with only one exception – Donald Trump. The megalomania, the scapegoating, the acceptance and encouragement of violence, the xenophobia, the racism, the authoritarianism, the harking back to some golden age of the Republic that only he can restore, the simplistic economic remedies, the manipulation of fear and hate, the casual use of the threats of military force, the use of religion to divide people, the methods of propaganda that make his followers see him as the only one who can make all things seem right again are all classic indicators of a person who is working to create a fascist state under authoritarian rule.
This is deadly serious. People and the planet will suffer greatly under Trump’s authoritarian rule. Our systems of democracy and checks and balances are not as robust as we think they are. With a Congress afraid to stand up against a president who has come to power on a wave of fascist populism, with courts stacked with Trump appointees, with a police force whose national union has already shown its support for Trump, and with the force of the military under his command, it is naive to think that Trump will be controlled.
This is a a warning, a warning from someone who has actually studied and taught about the rise of Hitler – it can happen here, it is happening here; and at this point Clinton and the people who vote for her are the only ones who can stop Trump from becoming President of the United States of America. Clinton is a lot of problematic things, but she is not a potential Hitler. Trump is. Progressives who are not voting for Clinton and who are working to keep people from voting for Clinton are aiding in the rise of Trump, whether they know it or not or admit it or not. I plead with you to look carefully at the reality of our situation. In January, our president will be Trump or Clinton. Anything we do to enable Trump to win will lead us into an era of real consequences for real people and all of life.
Those who are insisting on voting for either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein believe that they are casting a protest vote against a corrupt system. Those who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 felt the same way, and world history was changed when the election was called for Bush by the Supreme Court. We are facing the same possibility, only with even worse possible outcomes. I beg my idealistic friends, especially those who supported Bernie Sanders, as I did, not to make this mistake. Purity does not trump practicality here, and a vote for either independent candidate is a vote for Trump. Put the country ahead of yourself, please.
There is one aspect that needs to be addressed to the protest voter. They need to feel they are not being dismissed, that their opinion is valued, and that their concerns are understandable. They need to be understood and not demonized. Some of the commentary I see regarding this situation is horrible. Those pro HRC are often as bad as Pro Trump.
What I have been telling people interested in a third option is any major change in this country starts with the states, not the Federal government. Slavery, Women’s right to vote, Civil Rights, etc. Thus if they want to get third party as a strong option, they should work locally for things like Ranked Choice Voting and Ballot Access. Get involved with groups like FairVote.
Don’t dismiss them and tell them who to vote for. Give them something to DO so they don’t feel powerless about the changes they feel are needed.
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