A few years ago I wrote a blog about why people need to stop comparing other world leaders to Hitler. There seemed to be this rush to say, "Obama is Hitler." "Bush is Hitler." It seemed as if not liking someone was cause to call them a Nazi Fascist. It made me sick on multiple levels, most of which being that it took some of the nastiness and evil away from what Hitler actually did and stood for and equated it with being unlikeable. They are not the same.
Most of you know I'm second generation American from German immigrants and lived abroad in Vienna, Austria (Austria - not Australia...no kangaroos there) for a period of time and continue to keep ties with Vienna. I have said, "Wien bleibt immer noch mein Herzland". It might not be my "homeland" but it will always be my "heartland".
During my time there I was privileged to get to know all kinds of Austrians, even some "older" ones. Ones that remembered Hitler marching through the Hoffburg with confetti and droves of people cheering him on. Ladies, who had to duck behind buildings as they walked to school in order to avoid being hit by bombs. I'm so thankful for the honest conversations we got to have about Hitler, their feelings about their own History and Hitler at the time and as they looked back on it.
I once asked a woman what people thought about Hitler when he was rising to power. You see, Hitler came to power in tough economic times. He didn't win the title of Chancellor by telling Germans that he was going to exterminate the Jews. He won on a ticket that said, "We'll make Germany the great nation it once was. We'll get rid of outsiders who are taking your jobs. We'll build factories so you can feed your families and have wealth again. We want to make sure that the True Germans get what they deserve, which is the great nation we used to have." Most Germans were still smarting from the loss of WWI and feeling the economic drain of having to pay reparations for the damage Germany did to other nations during WWI. The reparations payments were crippling to the German economy, but the German Jews were a perfect scapegoat. Slowly but surely, Hitler built on an historical tradition of discomfort with Jews, old Catholic tales of how "the Jews killed Jesus" and propaganda that promised a thriving economy.
This one particular woman told me that her father was working in one of Hitler's new factories. Each morning her mom was so pleased with the new job (and income) she'd go on and on and on about how great Hitler was and all the good he was doing for Austria. Her father sat silently (as many German men do). Finally, one morning he couldn't take it anymore. He asked her sternly, "Do you have any idea what this leader of yours is making in that factory?" You see, he was sent to work in a weapons factory. He wasn't stupid. He knew the future was bleak with this kind of leadership. If all the jobs are coming from building weapons, eventually there's going to be an ugly downfall from that kind of "production".
I thought that was interesting. All this woman's mom knew was that her financial situation was improving. She didn't know about the piles of shoes and teeth in Auschwitz. She didn't know about the crematorium in Dachau. She didn't know about the impending "Kristallnacht". She only knew that her family, her kids, her personal situation was improving. Her husband knew better. He knew the likelihood of Hitler's leadership having long term positive impact was unlikely.
Hitler was a skilled orator. He was adept at saying just enough to garner support and not saying what his plan actually was. In a staunchly Catholic country like Austria, he of course did not say he was an Atheist with connections to the occult. Instead, he simply told them History was wrong and Jesus was not a Jew. How cold he have been? The Jews killed Jesus. This kind of twisting of the truth and manipulating speech to convince people he was "one of them" was one of his most frequently used tools.
What does History teach us about men like Hitler? Beware. Beware of men that promise to line your pockets at the expense of others. Beware of putting your own well-being ahead of your neighbors. Beware of men whose plan is unclear, and promise is grand. Beware of men like Donald Trump.
On so many levels, he is walking directly in the footsteps of Hitler. He is about as narcissistic, egomaniac as they come. Is he a good businessman, sure. But, a country is not a business, and beware of anyone who says it should be. You see, a country, a community of people is interdependent and what we do to each other will be the legacy we leave behind for our children. Men who lie and change their positions or opinions on deeply rooted beliefs like abortion, religion, marriage, etc... just to obtain more power (or votes) are dangerous.
I haven't even touched on the disgusting way he addresses women, refers to women and treats women. He has "promoted" his daughter and other women in his business. I'd argue he's done that because 1) He likes to be surrounded by beautiful smart women and 2) He's not a fool. If a woman is doing the job better of lining his pockets with more gold, of course she'll get promoted. This does not make him an advocate for women. He's an unfaithful husband with a lack of commitment to one of the most important institutions in our culture - family/marriage.
I can't help but picture him at a G8 summit or any other table with international leaders and see him make us all to be a gaggle of buffoons. He lacks the character, the finesse, the stamina, the ability to deal appropriately with people with whom you disagree to build relationships that are helpful to us as a nation.
I keep hearing, "But, what if he wins the nomination and we're left with him or Hillary." If he wins the nomination shame on us. Shame on you and shame on me. Shame on everyone who has stood idly by the last 10-20 years allowing bad men to have more and more control and lessening our support of good men. It's not Trump's fault, it's ours. We have created a system that has allowed this man to rise so quickly and easily to power.
At the end of the day, own-ness is on each and every one of us. Just like we blame Germans for not stopping Hitler and standing by while he trampled the rights of MILLIONS of people to benefit himself and "make Germany great again", History will judge us. Our children will one day ask us, "Did you vote for Trump? Why?" If your answer is that he's a good businessman and promised you financial success, I beg you to think over that again. History is doomed to repeat itself. We're watching it happen today. Be the one who stops it. Be the voice that speaks out! No amount of financial security is worth the price Trump would have us pay.