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Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler's Early Rhetoric and Policies

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15. Both rejected international norms. "Hitler's foreign policy rejected international cooperation in favor of military and economic coercion, culminating in the annexation of the Sudetenland, the phony Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the horrors of global war," Neuborne notes. "Like Hitler, Trump is deeply hostile to multinational cooperation, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the nuclear agreement with Iran, threatening to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, abandoning our Kurdish allies in Syria, and even going so far as to question the value of NATO, our post-World War II military alliance with European democracies against Soviet expansionism."

16. They attack domestic democratic processes. "Hitler attacked the legitimacy of democracy itself, purging the voting rolls, challenging the integrity of the electoral process, and questioning the ability of democratic government to solve Germany's problems," Neuborne notes. "Trump has also attacked the democratic process, declining to agree to be bound by the outcome of the 2016 elections when he thought he might lose, supporting the massive purge of the voting rolls allegedly designed to avoid (nonexistent) fraud, championing measures that make it harder to vote, tolerating -- if not fomenting -- massive Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, encouraging mob violence at rallies, darkly hinting at violence if Democrats hold power, and constantly casting doubt on the legitimacy of elections unless he wins."

17. Both attack the judiciary and rule of law. "Hitler politicized and eventually destroyed the vaunted German justice system. Trump also seeks to turn the American justice system into his personal playground," Neuborne writes. "Like Hitler, Trump threatens the judicially enforced rule of law, bitterly attacking American judges who rule against him, slyly praising Andrew Jackson for defying the Supreme Court, and abusing the pardon power by pardoning an Arizona sheriff found guilty of criminal contempt of court for disobeying federal court orders to cease violating the Constitution."

18. Both glorify the military and demand loyalty oaths. "Like Hitler, Trump glorifies the military, staffing his administration with layers of retired generals (who eventually were fired or resigned), relaxing control over the use of lethal force by the military and the police, and demanding a massive increase in military spending," Neuborne writes. Just as Hitler "imposed an oath of personal loyalty on all German judges...and demanded courts defer to him, "Trump's already gotten enough deference from five Republican [Supreme Court] justices to uphold a largely Muslim travel ban that is the epitome of racial and religious bigotry."

Trump has also demanded loyalty oaths. "He fired James Comey, a Republican appointed in 2013 as FBI director by President Obama, for refusing to swear an oath of personal loyalty to the president; excoriated and then sacked Jeff Sessions, his handpicked attorney general, for failing to suppress the criminal investigation into... Trump's possible collusion with Russia in influencing the 2016 elections; repeatedly threatened to dismiss Robert Mueller, the special counsel carrying out the investigation; and called again and again for the jailing of Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, leading crowds in chants of 'lock her up.'" A new chant, "send her back," has since emerged at Trump rallies directed at non-white Democratic congresswomen.

19. They proclaim unchecked power. "Like Hitler, Trump has intensified a disturbing trend that predated his administration of governing unilaterally, largely through executive orders or proclamations," Neuborne says, citing the Muslim travel ban, trade tariffs, unraveling of health and environmental safety nets, ban on transgender military service, and efforts to end President Obama's protection for Dreamers. "Like Hitler, Trump claims the power to overrule Congress and govern all by himself. In 1933, Hitler used the pretext of the Reichstag fire to declare a national emergency and seize the power to govern unilaterally. The German judiciary did nothing to stop him. German democracy never recovered."

"When Congress refused to give Trump funds for his border wall even after he threw a tantrum and shut down the government, Trump, like Hitler, declared a phony national emergency and claimed the power to ignore Congress," Neuborne continues. "Don't count on the Supreme Court to stop him. Five justices gave the game away on the President's unilateral travel ban. They just might do the same thing on the border wall." It did in late July, ruling that Trump could divert congressionally appropriated funds from the Pentagon budget -- undermining constitutional separation of powers.

20. Both relegate women to subordinate roles. "Finally," writes Neuborne, "Hitler propounded a misogynistic, stereotypical view of women, valuing them exclusively as wives and mothers while excluding them from full participation in German political and economic life. Trump may be the most openly misogynist figure ever to hold high public office in the United States, crassly treating women as sexual objects, using nondisclosure agreements and violating campaign finance laws to shield his sexual misbehavior from public knowledge, attacking women who come forward to accuse men of abusive behavior, undermining reproductive freedom, and opposing efforts by women to achieve economic equality."

Whither Constitutional Checks and Balances?

Most of Neuborne's book is not centered on Trump's fealty to Hitler's methods and early policies. He notes, as many commentators have, that Trump is following the well-known contours of authoritarian populists and dictators: "there's always a charismatic leader, a disaffected mass, an adroit use of communications media, economic insecurity, racial or religious fault lines, xenophobia, a turn to violence, and a search for scapegoats."

The bigger problem, and the subject of most of the book, is that the federal architecture intended to be a check and balance against tyrants, is not poised to act. Congressional representation is fundamentally anti-democratic. In the Senate, politicians representing 18 percent of the national population -- epicenters of Trump's base -- can cast 51 percent of the chamber's votes. A Republican majority from rural states, representing barely 40 percent of the population, controls the chamber. It repeatedly thwarts legislation reflecting multicultural America's values -- and creates a brick wall for impeachment.

The House of Representatives is not much better. Until 2018, this decade's GOP-majority House, a product of 2011's extreme Republican gerrymanders, was also unrepresentative of the nation's demographics. That bias still exists in the Electoral College, as the size of a state's congressional delegation equals its allocation of votes. That formula is fair as far as House members go, but allocating votes based on two senators per state hurts urban America. Consider that California's population is 65 times larger than Wyoming's.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's majority remains in the hands of justices appointed by Republican presidents -- and favors that party's agenda. Most Americans are unaware that the court's partisan majority has only changed twice since the Civil War -- in 1937, when a Democratic-appointed majority took over, and in 1972, when a Republican-appointed majority took over. Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's blocking of President Obama's final nominee thwarted a twice-a-century change. Today's hijacked Supreme Court majority has only just begun deferring to Trump's agenda.

Neuborne wants to be optimistic that a wave of state-based resistance, call it progressive federalism, could blunt Trump's power grabs and help the country return to a system embracing, rather than demonizing, individual dignity and fundamental equality. But he predicts that many Americans who supported Trump in 2016 (largely, he suggests, because their plights have been overlooked for many years by federal power centers and by America's capitalist hubs) won't desert Trump -- not while he's in power.

"When tyrants like Hitler are ultimately overthrown, their mass support vanishes retroactively -- everyone turns out to have been in the resistance -- but the mass support was undeniably there," he writes. "There will, of course, be American quislings who will enthusiastically support an American tyrant. There always are -- everywhere."

Ultimately, Neuborne doesn't expect there will be a "constitutional mechanic in the sky ready to swoop down and save American democracy from Donald Trump at the head of a populist mob." Whatever Trump thinks he is or isn't doing, his rhetorical and strategic role model -- the early Hitler -- is what makes Trump and today's GOP so dangerous.

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Steven Rosenfeld  covers democracy issues for AlterNet. He is a longtime print and broadcast journalist and has reported for National Public Radio, Monitor Radio, Marketplace,  TomPaine.com  and many newspapers. (more...)
 
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My "Languaged word."

Where is the President's fabric swatch book? He has to select upholstery for interrogation facilities at Gitmo. Hitler had no sense of fashion. Hitler was not God's gift to women of the world. Hitler never wasted time debating inferior genetics. Hitler did not have a hot sexy genius daughter like Ivanka, or a meathead son-in-law.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 11:44:37 AM

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