I am once again bringing this old piece of writing back to current attention. I have to. Because we just elected Donald Trump president.
We just elected Donald Trump, and the president-elect’s surrogates have brought back the idea of a national registry of Muslims, using the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans as legitimizing precedent.
We just elected Donald Trump, who has chosen as his CIA Director a man who has called for dramatically expanding the government’s surveillance powers.
We just elected Donald Trump, who has chosen as his Attorney General a man whose nomination to a seat on the federal bench was rejected by the Senate in 1986 because of his overt and outward racism.
We just elected Donald Trump, who has chosen for National Security Advisor a man who has close ties to Russia, has lobbied on behalf of the increasingly authoritarian regime in Turkey, is virulently anti-Muslim, and claims that fear of Muslims is rational.
We just elected Donald Trump president, and he won by getting the vote of only about a quarter of the total number of Americans eligible to vote.
I have to repost the following.
Because a passive public facilitates the death of democracy.
I noted in my status earlier this week that I had been reading Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich. After finishing it last night I decided to take a break before plunging into the second volume of what will be a majesterial trilogy when it is complete. I didn’t want to leave it without a comment, however.
First, the conventional wisdom that the German people voted the Nazis into power democratically is tragically mistaken. As Evans demonstrates, the Nazis never did better than the high 30s in terms of their overall percent of the German vote prior to Hitler being named chancellor in 1933. So how did it happen?
I think Evans paints a vivid portrait of how a passive public can facilitate the death of democracy. While a majority of Germans never voted for the Nazis in their rise to power, they stood by and watched as Hitler and his followers systematically dismantled parliamentary democracy. The majority of ordinary Germans were not complicit in the rampant illegality that was the final Nazi rise to power, but neither did they resist.
There is a cautionary lesson here for our own times.