Trump and Weimar

Source: Eric D. Weitz in Tablet Magazine, July

Today’s Republicans and similarly-minded figures in Europe are like the conservatives who put Adolf Hitler in power: delusional about their influence, playing dangerously with the structures of our democracy. Few Republicans in the United States are willing to follow Sen. Graham on the “exit ramp,” as he termed it, from the Trump highway. And much of the reason lies in the fact that Trump’s political language is only more blatant than what many Republicans have been saying for decades.

That is the lesson from the right-wing populist upsurge in Weimar Germany, which culminated in the Nazi assumption of power. The political language of fear and hostility directed at “foreign” elements (never mind the fact that many and even most of those so-called foreigners had been residents and citizens for generations) enables moderate and radical conservatives to come together. The moderates make the radicals salonfähig, acceptable in polite society. That is the real and pressing danger of the current moment.

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