The saying goes that those who don't know the lessons of history are doomed to repeat past disasters rings louder than ever as I watch Donald Trump and the ugly elements of the Republican Party base that are supporting him. It's as if we are watching a reprise of Adolph Hitler's rise to power in Germany in the first years of the 1930's. Trump and Hitler's demagoguery are frighteningly similar in how they promise renewed greatness while stir up hate and resentment of toward others. Both Trump and Hitler exhibit the worse forms of demagoguery and out of control narcissism. Sadly, for the last 35 years, the GOP has been setting the stage for someone like Trump. Only now are some Republicans admitting the consequences of their own handiwork, but most remain in denial. Michael Gerson correctly lets loose in a post in the Washington Post that takes on Trump, yet doesn't admit the GOP's role in creating the stage for his political ascendancy. Here are column highlights:
It is the great, democratic virtue of presidential campaigns that they subject candidates to every kind of stress, eventually revealing their core, their character. For Donald Trump, the test has been political success. After leading the Republican field for six months, and in some quarters receiving adulation nearly equal to his self-regard, how has Trump responded? Has he been sobered? Have his rhetoric and temperament matured?
No. Decidedly, no. The realistic prospect of executive power has only increased Trump’s swagger. He has threatened a Republican donor who opposes him. “I hear the [Ricketts] family,” he tweeted, “who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”
Trump has threatened the media, promising to “open up our libel laws” so he can more easily sue outlets that differ in their view of the truth about him. “I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people that I’ve ever met. They’re terrible.” he said recently. Referring specifically to The Post, he added: “If I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”
Trump has attempted to smear and intimidate a district judge, Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a lawsuit for fraud against Trump University, with its distinguished faculty of cardboard cutouts and allegedly bankrupt real estate investors. Trump accuses Curiel of hostility against him because “I’m very, very strong on the border.” Another shrill pipe of the ethnic dog whistle.
This is more than a personality disorder talking. Trump roots his intimidation in a worldview — the need for the strong hand. It is the most consistent commitment of Trumpism. As early as 1990, Trump criticized Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for not having a “firm enough hand.” He cited China’s butchers of Tiananmen Square as examples of his conception of power: “They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak . . . as being spit on by the rest of the world.” Following allegations last year that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had killed several high-profile journalists, Trump responded, “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”
According to a Vox analysis of the South Carolina Republican primary vote, the best statistical predictor of Trump support is an inclination toward authoritarianism — a belief in the need for “aggressive leaders and policies.” So Trump, if he wins the nomination and the presidency, will feel a mandate for his menace.
We have seen the lengths to which Trump will go to threaten and intimidate his enemies, armed mainly with social media. It seems reckless beyond reason — reckless with the republic itself — to arm him with the immense power of the executive branch. Consider the inherently threatening quality of the words “Trump’s military” or “Trump’s FBI” or “Trump’s IRS.” The grant of vast influence to a leader of such vindictive temperament is utterly frightening.
Chris Christie? His endorsement of Trump was evidently made out of pique and ambition. It is humiliating for the governor of a great state to make himself the subordinate of — the junior partner to — a cut-rate Mussolini.
Trump’s conception of leadership is to become large by making others small. In a reality television star, this is a job qualification. In a president, it would raise the prospect of serious damage to our democratic system.
As for all the evangelicals flocking to Trump, it shows just how sick and foul their version of Christianity has become. They are no better than the "godly Christians" who supported Hitler and the horrors he unleashed on the world. Trump must be stopped.