When Adolph Hitler was rising to power during the time of the Weimar Republic, he didn’t need to personally beat up, terrorize and assault all of those who would oppose him. Instead, he relied on a large coterie of bullies, known as Brown Shirts, who did that dirty work for him.
If you were one of his political opponents, you might one day find your windows smashed in, your name smeared, your family members attacked and brutalized. Potential opponents realized, fairly quickly, that the personal costs of politically opposing the future Chancellor of Germany were prohibitive. In the face of such unchecked terror, opposition melted away.
I am not sure there is an essential difference between the tactics of the National Socialists in 1932 and those of the Trump campaign today. Sure, all Trump and his spokespeople actually do is fabricate crazy charges against those who offend them. For example, that’s what they did to Cheri Jacobus, a Republican strategist who recently dared to criticize Trump for skipping the Iowa debate.
They knew that their on-line Brown Shirts would do the rest. Jacobus was promptly set upon by an army of on-line Trump followers: terrorized, slut-shamed, threatened with death, smeared relentlessly — horribly brutalized as a cautionary example for those who would dare oppose The Donald.
As far as I can see, Trump is essentially promising, with every speech, that he will continue these scorched earth tactics if he is elected. The concept of “representative democracy”, as we now define it, will come to seem a quaint notion, a silly idea doomed to failure, just as the Weimar Republic came to be seen.
The Western world has already lived through one Hitler in the last century. And he wasn’t the only such bully — he was just the one with the most successful brand name. What astonishes me is that anybody in this country would vote for a candidate who promises, once again, to create a society based on naked bullying and intimidation.