A European perspective
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 April 2016, 10:36 am
The view that most Americans have of Hitler is very much conditioned by the 4 years between 1941 when America entered the war, and the end of the war in 1945. Americans think of Hitler as some sort of boss mob they defeated, a war enemy, top of the list of several crazy dictators that America freed the world of. Europeans, because they were closer to the action during the pre-war and early war years also remember Hitler as a populist extreme right-wing politician.

Ever since Vidal completely derailed Buckley with the comparison on live TV in 1968, it has been very clear that the Republican party doesn't see any parallel between their politics and Nazism. But from a European perspective the more extreme right-wing populist positions mentioned in the Republican primaries bear at least some resemblance to some of the Nazi politics. You take proposals like confiscating money from Mexicans to pay for keeping them out, or imposing travel restrictions on Muslims and change the words "Mexicans" / "Muslims" into "Jews", and the resemblance to laws issued by the Nazis between 1933 and 1941 becomes quite eerie and a bit frightening.

That is not to say that Donald Trump is a Nazi or comparable to Hitler. There is absolutely no indication that even if elected he would somehow turn America from a republic into a dictatorship. It isn't even very likely that any of his proposals would ever be enacted if he became president. He probably doesn't even believe in that stuff, he just knows that it is what certain people want to hear and says it because it could potentially get him the Republican nomination. But the resemblance to anti-semitic propaganda and laws does explain certain European reactions to Donald Trump.

Personally I see Donald Trump more as a symbol of the schism in the Republican party between the establishment Republicans and the anti-establishment Republicans. There is still a greater than zero chance that Trump will split the party like Theodore Roosevelt did in 1912. And while I do believe that there is no way that the party can work around that schism and win the presidential election this year, I consider it possible that a split would actually strengthen the Republicans in the long run. Right now nobody really knows what the Republican party stands for, and some of the more extreme opinions on that matter look rather ugly from over here.
Tobold's Blog

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