Nazi Town USA

During my Wednesday marathon of documentary watching, I saw one about American nazis. As it turns out, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, many Americans were unhappy with our experiment in democracy. This unhappiness grew after the stock market crash and the depression began. Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan were popular across the US.

Many people believed that a strong leader unfettered by Congress was needed to set things straight. America needed to focus on its own needs and stop worrying about the rest of the world. The nazi craze preceded Hitler and his genocide of Jews and others he disliked.  The American version was aimed at rebuilding the US as a Christian nation. It was fascism. Even the New York Times published articles praising Mussolini and the wonderful progress he was fostering in Italy. Fascism was trending. World War II ended the craze, and populism led to a return to democracy. The documentary “Nazi Town, USA” aired in January and is available to view online.

This documentary frightened me. The story looked disturbingly familiar. What’s happening here now resembles what happened in the 1920’s. A disturbingly large number of Americans believe that democracy (the popular term now is “the Democrats”) can’t effectively govern our nation. They want a strong leader like Putin in Russia. Congress, elections, and the courts are viewed as barriers to success. A self-proclaimed demigod, the former president has proclaimed that he can restore prosperity and bring happiness to the land.

The temptation is to blame the former president. He’s not the root cause any more than the Grand Wizard of the Klan. Given the current sentiment in the country, if someone were to kill him, another would take his place. The problem is a loss of faith in democracy’s ability to right the ship. Our government has become dysfunctional. The two houses of Congress are controlled by opposing forces. Cooperation, even when both agree, doesn’t happen.

Take the immigration situation. The Far Right and the moderates in both houses agreed on a plan to strengthen the southern border. The president supported it. The Grand Wizard, former President Trump, pressured his supporters to kill the bill, even though it contained exactly what he wanted. Why? He said it would help the Democrats in the election. He believes putting him in power is more important than protecting our country.

In the last few decades, the meanings of Right and Left have changed. In the past, conservatives believed in a smaller Federal government and a balanced budget. Christian fundamentalist churches became more political and used the pulpit to advance causes and candidates that their leaders supported.

how to become a dictator

Following the news and this documentary, I think I understand the rather simple process one follows to become the next Putin, Hitler, or Trump. It’s not complicated at all.

Dictators get to power by getting popular support. The idea is to build a base of followers who will help spread the word and convert more people to your cause. Trump started with endless speeches against the flood of illegal immigrants entering the American southern border. His solution was easy to understand: build a 2,000-mile wall to keep them out. He went on to say that these illegals were criminals, sex and drug dealers, and terrorists.

In the beginning, he also said that he wanted to root out illegals living in the US and deport them. When someone told him that many of these illegal residents were family members of Hispanic voters, he dropped that cause.

The immigration issue drew a lot of support among white lower-middle-class people. These, almost exclusively Christian people rallied around him. In 2015 he rocketed from 18th in the presidential race to second in a matter of weeks.

Trump recognizes the importance of his base. He knows that to keep them motivated, he needs to keep feeding them easy-to-digest information that will resonate. He also took a hint from talk radio and demonized anyone who opposed him. He gives them demeaning nicknames: “Crooked Hillary,” “Sleepy Joe,” etc. Putin handles the problem of opposition a little differently; he simply has his opponents killed. Trump can’t do that yet.

Keeping things simple is the key. Isolating issues that resonate with his base and expanding it is critical. All fascist dictators use this playbook. They hide behind nationalism. They isolate their country.

Once they get into power, they have to lock themselves in power. The base isn’t reliable enough to do that. Putin used money to consolidate his power. He made billionaires of his powerful friends. He courted the military leaders and made them rich. Once a dictator controls the military, revolution is nearly impossible.

When Trump was president, he tried to do this. He worked to get the generals to support him. They didn’t buy his line. Our founding fathers were smart. They knew that power-hungry fascists would try to retain power.

When his base wasn’t quite big enough in 2020, Trump tried to stay in power despite losing the election. Trump never backs down from a position. A decade after Obama proved he was born in the US, Trump still insists that he is a foreigner. Trump, and many of his more ignorant followers, still believe that the Democrats stole the election.

Dictators know that people have trouble staying with issues. The base is much happier hating a person. That’s why you see demonstrations against a government aimed it its leader. Biden is the enemy, not a policy the base is told doesn’t work.

Demonize the people. Trump demonizes the entire Democratic Party, accusing them of being communists and dangerous to the country. He acts as though theDemocrats are a cohesive, unified mob. He ignores the fact that the party has a ton of different, often conflicting factions no different than the Republicans.

The key to becoming a dictator and killing democracy is building a majority base. You simplify complex issues into bite-sized bits easily digested by undereducated citizens.

Democracy isn’t an easy form of government to preserve. Every citizen has to understand the core values that keep it alive. The people have to be able to peacefully remove a leader from power when they want change. Democracy doesn’t guarantee good government. It allows the people to change things when they want. As long as the government supports checks and balances and the peaceful transfer of power, democracy will survive and serve the people.

There is no question that our democracy is messy, often slow to make changes, and often wrong. The government can tie itself into a knot. That’s the price of a system that fairly represents the country’s citizens. Sure, a single dictator could just get things done. All you have to do is look at a little history to see how that turns out.

Even if Donald Trump had all of the right answers, I would oppose him. He has made it clear that if he is returned to office, he not only intends to stay there, he wants to suspend the constitution to consolidate his power. Why? He says because it is good for us. No, not good for me.

2 Comments

  1. your political comments are just not fact based and a turn off,no one comes to your site or strict Julie to hear repeated blathering

    1. Author

      Julie and I are on opposite sides…both inaccurate? Nope,maybe you are just ignorant. I don’t do many political posts. You are free to ignore them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *