Letter: Creeping authoritarianism
If everyone had listened to me when Donald Trump first declared his candidacy for president, our country wouldn’t be in such a terrible position now. I recalled my experience on a college field trip visiting a mental health facility, witnessing the behavior of a gentleman who believed his thoughts were being controlled by devices inside the walls surrounding him.
Though Trump hasn’t exhibited exactly this symptom of poor mental health, his marked inclination to shape what he believes to be true puts him outside of most people’s concept of reality. Though such unfortunately damaged individuals deserve our utmost sympathy and care, they don’t belong in positions of commander in chief and can cause inestimable damage to the society over which they yield power.
The parallels with the rise of Hitler are, I believe, relevant. Responding to the disillusionment and unrest of a large segment of their respective populations, both Hitler and Trump expressed the anger that was boiling up, first in Germany over loss of dignity and pride in WWI, and in the U.S. over loss of jobs and economic growth in the lower and middle classes. Both men offered quick and easy solutions, too appealing to be examined for how they might be carried out and what their downside might be. An effort to suppress, or at least undermine the media, successful in Germany and being attempted in the U.S., keeps the population in the dark about what is going on. I understand that many Germans did not know of the horrible treatment of the Jews in their country. Could something like that happen in the U.S.?
I doubt if such destructive visions were in the hearts of the German citizenry back then. Nor are they in the U.S. now, but with the use of obstructionism, propaganda and fear, the authoritarian Nazi regime evolved. People who tried to work against it were putting their lives at risk.
The present situation with the Trump administration has a definite authoritarian look about it and it should get our attention that dictator Vladimir Putin is one of the few world leaders that he has spoken of admiring.
Democracy’s commitment to a peaceful change of power makes correcting mistakes very challenging. The large crowds of demonstrators all over the country leave no question about public resistance to Trump’s actions, but translating that energy into removing him from office is not simple. There is no clear path that I can discern, but my contribution is to encourage those who are working toward this end and persuade all that we must not let our beautiful country suffer destruction caused by creeping authoritarianism.
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