It is the myth of American Exceptionalism that reassures us that we are fundamentally different than Germany in the 1920s and ’30s. They went there, we are told, because Germans crave order and Hitler gave the order.
But Germany was an advanced nation with a high degree of literacy. Its citizens were well educated. Hitler didn’t need to win on the battlefield of ideas. He only had to create an opening that he could drive a tank through.
We are no different today. In a way, we are more vulnerable because of the outsized role that Fox News and iHeart radio have on millions of Americans. Science has advanced the understanding of crowd control through propaganda to a fine art, something that Goebbels was only inventing at the time. And as we well know, Republicans have become masters of propaganda. Their Think Tanks have been studying it for decades.
Neither are Fox or iHeart central players by happenstance. This is all part of a long term plan to control public opinion with the endgame of destroying our two-party system in favor of an autocratic system of corporate monopolies acting as modern-day fiefdoms. This is what their ideology teaches. It has been their stated goal, to drown our democracy in a bathtub.
Paul Krugman wrote a couple of weeks ago that in a way we lucked out with Trump because with the Republican lock on 40 percent of the population, combined with their dominance at every level of government in 2016, Trump was supposed to be the tip of the spear, the figurehead who would forcibly take control over our government. But, Krugman asserts, Trump turned out to be his own worst enemy, a man so willfully ignorant and self-absorbed that he could not grasp the gilded crown that Republicans handed to him.
But we are by no means out of the woods yet. Trump has two choices in front of him now — reelection or prison, and Trump will not hesitate to take the entire nation down with him. Neither will the Republicans thugs posing as American congressmen consider any line to be too far to cross. Many of them face prison time as well if they lose power.
It is easy, in the comfort of our sense of American Exceptionalism, to imagine that the Republican storming of the SCIF was simply showboating for their base. But I see it as part of a larger pattern of pushing the bounds of acceptable behavior, testing how far they can take lawlessness while still retaining control over their base and their jobs.
At the same time, it has the effect of normalizing lawlessness, of shifting control from the system over to them. We saw the stirrings of this when the Bundy’s forced federal agents to back down then stormed the Malheur Reserve, only to be given another reprieve by the courts. Certainly, no one has been given more second chances than Trump.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I should think that Speaker Pelosi cannot simply ignore this kind of behavior. My concern is will we be prepared when the Night of Long Knives arrives? Because I don’t see any lawful outcome at this point that Trump will accept.