Many on the left see him as the second coming of Adolf Hitler. Despite Godwin's Law, Jim Kunstler wrote, "As for [the real-estate developer], he remains what I said at the campaign’s outset: worse than Hitler, lacking the brains, charm, and savoir faire of the Ol’ Fuhrer, and with his darkness even more plainly visible."
Google [the real-estate developer] and Hitler, and you got 5.6 million results as of today.
In an interview, New Left warhorse Noam Chomsky gave a more nuanced but still Weimar-y assessment of the reasons behind [the real-estate developer's] surprising strength:
Fear, along with the breakdown of society during the neoliberal period. People feel isolated, helpless, victim of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence. It’s interesting to compare the situation in the ‘30s, which I’m old enough to remember. Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater. But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now, in large part because of the growth of a militant labor movement and also the existence of political organizations outside the mainstream.
But let's calm down for a moment and note a few important differences.
Hitler laid out his socio-political-military agenda in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925-26 and dictated from the cushy prison accommodations in which he landed from the failed "Beer Hall Putsch." It was evil, propelled by murderous anti-Semitism, and yet was a compelling explanation and plan for millions of Germans living in the aftermath of defeat in World War I.
The Art of the Deal does nothing of the kind. Publishers Weekly wrote in 1987, "This boastful, boyishly disarming, thoroughly engaging personal history offers an inside look at aspects of financing, development and construction in big-time New York real estate."
As for his hateful and war-mongering rhetoric of late, [the real-estate developer] merely says out loud what the base of the Grand Old Party believes (and no, Cal and Robert Bohannan, I don't mean you guys). But he lacks stormtroopers battling in the streets with opponents, the fractured multi-party democracy of the Weimar Republic, or the unique Prussian military Junker class willing to be co-opted. For his audiences, Hitler was a spellbinding speaker — and he had filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
Fascism? Maybe. As in, "an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization." We're closer to that, with a theocracy thrown in, than we might believe, with or without [the real-estate developer]. Rubio or Tailgunner Ted would make George W. Bush look like Ted Kennedy by comparison.
Of course, a President [the real-estate developer] is very possible and frightening in its own right. Hitler never had reality television. [The real-estate developer's] danger comes from his monomaniacal ego, lack of experience and potential to be plopped down in the center of our Cold Civil War and cracking up institutions (yes, some days it does have a (conditional) Weimar — or Rome — feel). I could easily see the [the real-estate developer] blundering into war with Russia or China with catastrophic consequences.
Now, I don't want to make any false equivalency, but on the left we have Sen. Bernie Sanders. He's right in much of what he says about the system being gamed against average working people and the need to apply the rule of law to a much reformed "financial services industry."
But his executive and legislative record is slim. His roadmap is vague beyond a few things such as breaking up the big banks and universal healthcare. Curiously, he doesn't seem interested in fighting for advanced infrastructure and reviving our passenger rail system, which would create millions of jobs. Doing nothing to help the party, I could easily see a President Sanders cooped up in the White House for four years as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan run the country.
Not that he would get there. If the Republicans took out the long knives (while we're in Nazi analogy territory) against that gifted and shrewd Black Man in the White House, imagine the campaign they would run against the SOCIALIST FROM VERMONT!!!? Sorry, but the white people who make up the majority of the electorate that actually votes won't vote for him — when have they voted for their economic self-interests over the past 35 years?
This is the reckoning.
Wreck the middle class and gut its wealth. Take away the ladder of opportunity and dismantle the Great American Jobs Machine. Engage in endless war and a toxic mixture of Wilsonian idealism and soft empire in the nation's foreign policy. Sell off politics to the highest bidder, enshrining this as the law of the land thanks to a reactionary Supreme Court. Steal the 2000 presidential election (thanks, Sandy). Screw people over again and again with corporate frauds and recessions where profits are privatized and losses socialized. Degrade the teaching of history, kill serious journalism, hook up people to "devices," and turn a civilization into a market.
This is what you get.
As Soleri commented earlier, this was always going to be a tough presidential election for the Democrats. An inflamed circular firing squad on the left — or the entry of Michael Bloomberg — will make victory even more difficult. I'm not searching for perfection, only trying to stave off national suicide, which would be the consequence of a Republican victory.
Give them four years and watch things turn around, Democrats retake Congress and the White House. Sorry, I'm not buying it. As I've written before, the blunders and crimes of W. and President Cheney, including the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, only temporarily stopped the rightward momentum. This time we'll get Karl Rove's Permanent Republican Majority.
The only amendment you'll be able to count on will be the Second. Unless you're a "traitor," which would be even more widely defined than in 2003 when applied to Iraq war critics.
So I'm not surprised at the rise of [the real-estate developer]. I am by the willingness of too many of Bernie's supporters to demand their full loaf or threaten to go home.