What we can learn about the fall of Donald Trump from the fall of Adolf Hitler

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It’s easy to conflate the Adolf Hitler who stood before adoring crowds and exhorted and mesmerised them in gruff, Austrian-accented German, with the guy who gave us World War II. But they are two different Hitlers. The former represented Adolf Hitler when he was popular, the latter when he was considerably less so.

To be sure, there were occasional, overlapping, stunningly victorious moments that provided photo-ops in the early days of the war. Most notably the summer of 1940 after the fall of Paris. But it was by late summer, 1941, when the chilling realization that Operation Barbarossa — Hitler’s exquisitely ill-advised, ill-timed attack on the Soviet Union — was turning from a fait accompli victory to a dwindling desperate hope, that certain Home Truths came home to roost. Lucky for Der Fuhrer that he wasn’t up for re-election that November. No more Springtime for Hitler.

Those began the days when Adolf Hitler virtually disappeared from the German landscape and spent the vast majority of the rest of his dictatorship hunkered down and bunkered down in various forward positions near the Eastern Front. Grumbling back home was considerable. The German people signed on for jobs, prosperity, restored national pride and the autobahn. They didn’t sign on for yet another long, brutal war of bombing, privation and bread lines.

That’s how fickle a population can be. One minute they adore you the next they don’t. And it doesn’t take much either, just a measurable reduction in the Good Life and you’re done. James Carville was right when he said it first, nearly thirty years ago: “It’s the economy, stupid.” I mean, what’s a fascistic tyrant to do?

If you filter out that part of the press that wants to become the next Michael Moore by predicting yet another Trump victory, you can easily see for yourself that Trump is almost certainly finished. Whether you’re a fascist tyrant or merely wish you could be one, the bottom line is always the same. All rule is rule by consent. There are no exceptions and there never have been. Every government that ever existed since Homo sapiens started walking upright has been, at its core, a democracy. “Rule by consent” summarizes every government that ever was, and Donald Trump has finally lost his consent.

Where governments differ — and here’s the catch — is how long it takes for them to topple once they’ve lost that consent. If the system is sufficiently entrenched it can take a very long time indeed. The Soviet Union, just to pick an example, took a disheartening 72 years for the regime (and the whole rotten bureaucracy propping it up) to fall. The good news is, in a democratic republic like the United States of America, one only needs to wait for a periodic four year boundary to change governments and, lucky for us, one is coming up in less than five months.

The cracks are showing just in time. It’s still disheartening to see those cracks exist mostly in people who are former members of the government. It reminds us of how rare actual courage is. If Spartacus had been in the Republican Senate he would have been the only one to stand up and identify himself. That Lisa Murkowski is kinda, sorta, maybe not so sure about Trump doesn’t count. But even their silence is telling. It took them long enough but even they see the handwriting on the wall.

In the pre-pandemic days Trump was right to run for re-election on the economy. It was his best bet. Not enough people noticed that Trump is a lazy, ignorant, ineffectual buffoon and that the economy we were all enjoying back then had nothing to do with him. Human capacity for misidentifying causality is nothing new. But his own indolence and entrenched inability to adapt to the new situation caused by coronavirus and racial unrest has justly exposed him for the incompetent that he is. A great leader would have seized the moment and made it his own. Trump is no kind of leader at all. He’s a petulant fool who spends his days watching television and making angry, insulting tweets, and it took a collapsed economy to fully expose him.

Maybe next time we’ll be better able to see another Trump coming, but somehow I doubt it. It took Republicans a little over a meager six years to elect another president after Nixon resigned. But at least, for now, we can bask in the notion that soon Donald Trump will be gone. Of course, we must vote in November, and we must not lose our enthusiasm nor our resolve. Trump must be removed, and we are the only ones who can remove him. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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