Fascism and Vague Promises: How Trump’s Campaign Mirrors Hitler’s Rise
Who is Responsible for Trump’s Rise?
From day one, Donald Trump has made no attempt to hide his totalitarian views, undeniable sexism, and violent racism. There were a reported 19 hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims in the five days following Trump’s December 7th declaration that the United States should halt all Muslim immigration. Unfortunately, that was just the jumping off point for a campaign dripping with venomous racism. Pandering to misdirected fears, his campaign has exposed the ugly underbelly of confused American anger. Influential figures across the spectrum of political alliances have spoken out against him, but it has done little to slow him down. Despite international uproar against his statements that are eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s campaign promises, hordes of supporters still flock to Trump. Donald Trump is certainly not Adolf Hitler, after all there have been many political hopefuls with eccentric personalities who didn’t elaborate on details, and to say Trump is Hitler is to trivialize the murder and abuse of millions carried out under Hitler’s rule. The current that is keeping Trump afloat is in the same ocean that brought Hitler to the surface. America’s response to Trump’s campaign is uncomfortably reminiscent of our response to Hitler’s rise to dictatorship.
In Andrew Nagorski’s book, Hitlerland (2012), Nargoski points out how journalists urgently warned the public to take Hitler’s anti-Jewish platform seriously. Hitler’s whirlwind campaign was full of vague promises; on which he would not provide details. He relied on catchphrases, drilling his message into the minds of the German people by repetition. Yet, many Americans continued to think of Hitler as a complete joke. They laughed at his pompous orating and saw him as a mouthpiece and nothing more. Donald Trump is certainly not Adolf Hitler, to compare the two is to trivialize the murder and abuse of millions carried out under Hitler’s rule, but the media coverage of Trump’s campaign is uncomfortably reminiscent of the response to Hitler’s campaign.
The New Statesmen published a profile of Adolf Hitler on July 29, 1933. In the piece, the author William Walter Crotch first saw Hitler on the streets of Munich when he was just dipping his toe into politics. Crotch’s neighbors said Hitler was “a trifle mentally deranged.” A quick Google search reveals a multitude of articles exploring the likelihood that Trump has narcissistic personality disorder. People who know him personally have said he is a nice guy who is an eccentric showman with a ridiculous hairstyle. Even the Clintons attended his most recent wedding.
Crotch said Hitler both loved and denounced anything foreign. In a similar vein, Trump denounces immigration although he is married to a naturalized citizen. None of this bothers his supporters, because they also don’t care about the details. Melania Trump is the presidential front runner’s third wife, and the second Mrs. Trump to be an immigrant. Melania was born in the former Yugoslavia. Trump’s previous wife, Ivana, was born in Czechoslovakia.
Public opinion in Munich tended towards describing Hitler as “quite a pleasant fellow” who sported an outlandish look. People who know Trump personally have said he is a nice guy and an eccentric showman with a ridiculous hairstyle. In terms of Hitler’s public persona, “his talk was a succession of vague generalities…showing…complete ignorance or at least complete contempt for detail.” A disastrous 60 Minutes interview showcased Trump’s inability to provide or even understand the details about his own platform.
The Trump campaign for president was at first likened to an SNL skit. His cartoonish calls to “make America great” were laughed off by media outlets. Late night hosts continue to monologue about how his outlandish politics are perfect fodder for comedic material. Some people believe theories that he is part of a conspiracy to get votes for Hilary Clinton. While others say he must be trolling the GOP, because how could anyone say the things he says and be serious?
Hitler was also painted as a caricature of himself. Hitler’s whirlwind campaign was full of vague promises; on which he would not provide details. He relied on catchphrases, drilling his message into the minds of the German people by repetition. Yet, many Americans continued to think of Hitler as a complete joke. Audiences lined up to watch Charlie Chaplin’s satirize Hitler in the 1940 film “The Great Dictator.” They loved the movie, until the end when Chaplin broke character and asked the audience to confront fascism. The public just wanted to laugh, despite several journalists’ attempts to warn the public to take Hitler’s anti-Jewish platform seriously.
Maybe Trump is a narcissistic sociopath hungry for fame, a fascist dictator in the making, or a complete troll. Whatever or whoever he is, we must take him seriously as a dangerous advocate for unpatriotic hatred who is still supported by voters who agree with his heinous and vague declarations. What matters is that the media has been helping Trump to bulldoze through the primaries because we love to hate him, just as we loved to hate Hitler.
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