“Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi,” Thompson observed. “But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success — they would all go Nazi in a crisis.” Much the same can be said of those who go Trump.
This is from James Kirchick over at Tablet Magazine. It’s excerpted from the testimonies of Dorothy Thompson’s “Who Goes Nazi?” essay from Harper’s in August of 1941. Kirchick, writing back prior to Trump’s election, suggests that dubious character is a better model for understanding a Trump voter than, say, the social dynamics of Appalachia described in Hillbilly Elegy.
Certainly there’s some truth in it, at least anecdotally. I know few churchgoers that voted for Trump, though my denomination is fairly small and statistically irrelevant. And yet, in the election postmortem, it seems as if the diving line between Trump and Hillary voters was education, or at least that’s what Nate Silver suggests with some quite reasonable data.
Still, let’s return to Kirchick’s original point. If it’s true that authoritarians are elected by Thompson’s, erhm, “basket of deplorables”, the solution to authoritarianism is pretty simple: reduce the number of deplorables. If Jesus is to be of any insight, the only way to do that is to love the enemy to the point of pain and death, to carry their bags an extra mile and give them a cloak and tunic. As evidenced by the fully clothed culture warriors, though, I don’t see anyone taking that direction.