Donald Trump, History Repeating Itself, and the Great Recession
Over the last year, people in the United States have been making a good number of comparisons between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. I am one of the people who have been making these comparisons
Many people are upset that these comparisons are being made at all. They quote something they call Godwin’s Law, which says, depending on which version you hear, either that the certainty of someone mentioning the Nazis becomes almost certain as time passes in a political discussion or that the first person who mentions Adolf Hitler in a political conversation automatically loses.
Godwin’s Law actually comes from a real person named Godwin. Mike Godwin has written specifically about comparisons between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, and says that they’re fine with him – so long as they’re based on actual historical and political information, rather than baseless fear.
Horace Bloom, author of the new book Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler: Making A Serious Comparison, points out that Donald Trump once wrote an article specifically talking about the problems that the Weimar Republic in Germany faced.
Weimar problems that Trump never mentioned were:
– Growth of racist nationalism
– The aftermath of a foolish war of aggression
– Corrupt right wing judiciary
– Hunger for strongman leaders
Instead, the Weimar problem Donald Trump identified was that working people expected to be able to receive payments from the pension plans that they had paid into for years. Trump’s point was that the Weimar Republic was flawed because the policies of Social Democrats caused people to become too dependent upon government.
Trump takes the same position against the Weimar Republic as the Nazis did.
Thanks to Donald Trump, the most serious threat that American democracy faces right now is the rise of white supremacists within the Republican Party. Trumpists want to do away with constitutional freedoms, want to persecute racial, cultural and religious minorities, and want a new round of American military aggression.
Chanting “USA! USA!” these nationalists would have cheered at Hitler’s speeches, too. It’s easier to get angry at scapegoats than it is to confront cognitive dissonance, after all.
The problem with Trump’s article isn’t simply that Trump overlooked the threat of racist nationalism. It’s that his economic predictions were so far off the mark.
Donald Trump was predicting a big economic crisis, and that much he got right. However, his argument about what would cause that crisis, the Great Recession, couldn’t have been more incorrect.
It wasn’t American workers’ pensions that caused the Great Recession. The crisis came from Wall Street millionaires and billionaires who were using money they got from investors, including pension funds, to exploit working class Americans.
That Donald Trump manages to be simultaneously racist and classist, protecting the wealthy Manhattan firms that squeezed America dry while blaming Mexicans and Muslims for all our problems, makes his claim to be an outsider challenging the political establishment particularly galling. Born a millionaire, with mansions and planes and yachts strewn across the country, Donald Trump is in no position to tell America that the hardest working, most vulnerable people in our nation are those to blame when things get tough.