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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/28/20

Der Fuerherprinzip, the Republican Party, and Leader Trump

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Donald wir folgen Dir! (Tr.: Donald, we follow you.) Yes! Der Fuerher Prinzip, indeed.
Donald wir folgen Dir! (Tr.: Donald, we follow you.) Yes! Der Fuerher Prinzip, indeed.
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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)


"Der Fuhrerprinzip" (Ger.: The Leadership Principle) "prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the [German] Third Reich [1933-45]. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that 'the Fuhrer's word is above all written law' and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end. In actual political usage, it refers mainly to the practice of dictatorship within the ranks of a political party itself, and as such, it has become an earmark of political fascism." Translated succinctly, in Nazi Germany it meant: "The Fuhrer is always right."

Adolf Hitler was granted this position very early on in the history of the (German) National Socialist German Workers Party (1921). A riveting speaker even then, Hitler had been recruited to lead what was then one of many small right-wing parties that had formed after the end of World War. There was a contretemps about who would be in charge and Hitler was able to make a deal that if he were to stay on, he had to be the unquestioned leader, Fuhre r in German. From then on, Hitler made very major decision for Germany, both political and military.

It worked fine for him and Nazi Germany until during the War he started making major military decisions, for which he was totally unqualified --- like diverting an Army that had an absolutely open pathway to the Caucasus mountains in the Soviet Union --- and the Baku oil fields beyond them --- to attack a target that was already being by-passed, Stalingrad, primarily because of its name. That move, and the Wehrmacht's ultimate defeat there, led inexorably to Nazi Germany's defeat. But as I said, the Fuhre rprinzip worked well for him for quite some time.

Now, how does all of this apply to Trump and the contemporary Republican Party? Since the election of 1876, with a few exceptions --- Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower ---that Party has represented the right-wing of U.S. politics. Since then, for most of the time it has been xenophobic. (It is not widely known that one of the founding members of its original coalition was the American Party, the wildly anti-Irish/German "Know-nothings.") Since Nixon and the establishment of his "Southern Strategy" it has also been becoming ever more openly racist (although leaning heavily on "dog-whistles,") leading up to Donald Trump, who has made no bones about it. And now, in the 3½ years of his Presidency, Trump has put more and more of his own political stamp on the office, while more and more making the Republican Party (with which he had never previously identified, e.g., he was a one-time contributor to Hillary Clinton and to Kamala Harris[!]) into what I have called "The Trumpublican© Party."

It is well-known that Trump has had major difficulties in holding onto traditional Republicans who had joined his Administration. More and more his appointees' primary qualification seems to be a willingness to be totally loyal to Trump. As for the Congress, Republican House members and Senators more-and-more seem to be staying loyal only partly because they agree with is major policy initiatives: tax cuts for the wealthy and the large corporations, the Deconstruction of the Administrative State, and the appointment of far-right wing judges. They (some of them, at least) may be quite uncomfortable with his ignorance, his lack of learning ability, his almost total absence from the tasks-of-President, his personality, his speeches when he strays from the texts to attack whoever is in his sights for that particular day, his tweets, especially when the latter might be aimed at them, possibly bringing out primary-challengers. But there still has been a Republican Party.

But now, at this Convention, that Party has disappeared. The major defining construct, politically, for any party is the Platform that is revealed every four years at the Presidential Convention: "This is What We Stand For." Of course, the eventual nominee has a major impact on it (as did Trump in 2016, in particular in the softening of Russia/Ukraine/Crimea policy). But any Platform's countless details are hammered out over countless hours by representatives of the various factions of the Party. Even if no one ever reads it or pays any attention to it in any detail the Platform adopted by the Convention establishes an identity for the Party regardless of who the candidate is. It's the Common Ground for the members.

But for the Republican Party, 2020, that is no longer the case. Very publicly the Party announced that there would be no platform this year. No political party has ever done that. NONE. BUT, does that mean it does not have a program to run on? Not at all. It does not have a Platform, but it does have an Agenda. And it is entitled the, wait for it, "Trump Second Term Agenda." AND it did not appear as any kind of Republican Party document. It was sent out in a Trump-Pence fundraiser on August 24, 2020, with no mention of the Republican Party, under the headline:


Its components have some interesting elements, not all of which would find favor with all Republicans, especially the elected ones. And here they are:

"1. Unlike Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who have vowed to DESTROY the American way of life, President Trump and Vice President Pence are promising to put YOU and your family first every single day.

"2. They will create MORE jobs, CUT taxes, PROTECT American jobs.

"3. The Coronavirus will be ERADICATED.

"4. America will END its reliance on China and bring back 1 MILLION manufacturing jobs.

"5. [Health] insurance premiums will be LOWERED, Social Security and Medicare will be protected, prescription drug prices will be CUT, and preexisting conditions will be covered.

"6. School Choice will be provided to EVERY Child in America.

"7. We will DRAIN THE SWAMP by passing Congressional term limits.

"8. Law enforcement will be fully funded.

"9. NO more sanctuary cities, human trafficking networks will be dismantled, and illegal immigrants will be BLOCKED from becoming eligible for taxpayer- funded welfare, healthcare, and free college tuition.

"10. We will establish a permanently manned presence on the moon and send the first manned mission to Mars.

"11. [We will] STOP Endless Wars and bring our troops home.

"President Trump has always put America First with every decision that he makes, and we expect his second term as our President to be no different."

I will not discuss the content of the "Agenda" here, especially because since this is Trump-time we may never hear of it again. But it is the process that I find fascinating. The Party announces that there will be no platform this year. Then Trump announces his AGENDA, and so far, at least, no Republican says boo to a goose about it (at least out loud). The Republican Party, 2020 has clearly become the Trumpublican Party©, 2020. And so, it will stay until the election is finally decided. If Trump remains in the Presidency (and note that I didn't use the word "win," because it is highly unlikely that he can actually do that), the nation will increasingly be led by the Trumpian version of Der Fuhrerprinzip.

An example of this, and what it would mean for the Nation, was when the present Trump Chief of Staff, former Tea Party hack Mark Meadows, was asked about the very apparent non-compliance with the legal requirements of the Hatch Act, which governs what appointed and elected government officials can do and not do on government property/time. He said words to the effect of : "if we determine that 'no one outside the [Washington] Beltway' cares whether a particular law is enforced or not, we can break any particular law we want to." Today, it is the relatively innocuous Hatch Act. Tomorrow who knows? And yes, for a President who has been ignoring norm after norm and unilaterally expanding Presidential powers, that statement has major implications of the future of our nation. Der Fuhrerprinzip, indeed .

(Article changed on August 28, 2020 at 13:55)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
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