Ted Rall: “To A Man, They Went With The Fascist”

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Had his opponents set aside their personal ambitions and biases, had they united in favor of the national good, the leader could’ve been denied …

ted-rall-bernie-sandersaNewDomain commentary  — It all began with the global economic crisis.

All around the world, millions of people who had nothing to do with the stock market crash — who didn’t earn enough money to save, much less invest, and really much less speculate — lost everything nevertheless. They lost their jobs, then, in short order, their homes. They were scared.

The failure of democratic governance transformed their completely understandable fear into savage, uncontrolled anger.

Presidents and parliaments dithered. Part of the blame lie with the Constitution. It provided for a strong executive branch. Rather than grease the skids of government, it prompted members of the congress to dig in their heels, blocking every initiative they could because it was the only way to stay relevant.

The politicians knew they had a terminal systemic crisis on their hands, but they couldn’t agree how to respond.

So they didn’t.

The misery deepened. And gridlock reigned.

The economy recovered. A little. Not much. But almost all the gains fell into the pockets of the wealthy and well-connected. Almost everyone else felt left out. They seethed.

Seeing opportunity amid the armies of the alienated and dispossessed, the perennial almost-candidate of the nationalist, nativist far-right began campaigning in earnest. Breaking all the rules of conventional campaigning, he drew huge crowds with a simple message:

Believe me.

Trust me, he assured his audiences, and I will make the country great again.

He was short on specifics and liberal with insults. Idiots, he called the incumbent politicians. They were losers — losers whose stupidity had betrayed a once-great country.

“People from this country can’t find a job. They can’t earn a decent living,” he ranted. “Foreigners must be expelled so our people can work!”

Forward-looking leaders within the establishment parties worried about the growing popularity of this strongman in the making. His intentions, after all, were dangerously radical — and they’d been published years before in a bestselling book.

He was, he said it himself, a “militarist.” Wars, fragmentation, scapegoating were all in the cards if he were allowed to come to power.

But the parties weren’t motivated to respond.

The system couldn’t save itself.

Some establishment analysts thought he was a flash in the pan, a buffoon whose appeal would fade in good time of its own accord. “The ranting clown who bangs the drum outside the … circus,” The Guardian called him.

The future tyrant’s natural ideological opposition couldn’t get it together. During key elections, they split their votes between the socialist left and moderate liberals. Ultimately, however, historians blamed the right most of all, for failing to rein in one of their own.

Traditional conservatives had played a dangerous game for years, using political “dog whistles” to appeal to citizens’ bigoted views of foreigners and ethnic minorities. As the economy worsened, this approach became more effective. Conservatives doubled down, setting the stage for what came next.

What the old guard didn’t understand was, that given a choice between half-hearted racism and the genuine article, the electorate would choose the authentic candidate. “He tells it like it is, and we need that now in a president,” 44 percent of voters told a major newspaper.

The conservative establishment faced a choice, too: Support a candidate of the left, or forsake true conservatism in favor of a fascist.

To a man, they went with the fascist.

A tone of increasing violence accompanied the demagogue’s rise in the polls. Not only did he personally condone violence against his movement’s political opponents, his party offered its lawyers to defend partisans arrested for beatings in its name.

Even his close associates were implicated in violent assaults: When they were, the leader stood by them.

“I think it’s a very very sad day in this country when a man could be destroyed over something like that,” he said.

The president was reluctant to issue an outright condemnation. “Troubling,” he called the gathering storm clouds. And that was all.

The leader’s authoritarian movement attracted a plurality of the vote — yet he wasn’t popular enough to consolidate a simple majority.

Had his opponents set aside their personal ambitions and ideological biases, and united in favor of the national good, he could have been denied the chancellorship.

And 12 years later, all would be ruins.

For aNewDomain and the new SkewedNews, I’m Ted Rall.

About the author

Ted Rall

Based in New York, Ted Rall is aNewDomain's chief commentator and a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist. A Pulitzer nominee, Rall's latest book is the NYT bestselling book, Trump: A Graphic Biography.
Support his work and see his toons first at his site on Petreon. Follow him on Twitter @tedrall

7 Comments

  • I suppose you’re trying to draw an analogy to a current public figure.
    It really isn’t the same in so, so many ways.

      • Only if you’re significantly ignorant of the actual events history and governmental structure of the Weimar Republic which is nothing like the U.S.A. This isn’t that and putting the two in the same pot is fundamentally insulting.

        • Ted illustrated parallels between Mein Trumf and that other demagogue.
          He is not putting anything in any pot save an idea that is becoming more evident in American water cooler discussions.

          • 🙂
            Relax, we’re friends here on this lonely Disqus space.

            Ted showed us some behavior that happens to resemble a current public figure in similar circumstances.

            Now it may be hyperbole to call Trump a not-see, and your arguments of how Germany and USA are more dissimilar than similar do hold water.

            This is not enough to dismiss the entire idea, having a nut in charge of the largest military force in history must be cause for a second look.

  • The sad scary way this compares is Hillary will be the Hitler of America. Trump at least questions the wisdom of funding NATO.

    Her track record promises death and destruction for conjured enemies clear up to the biggest power in Asia.

    Wallace Shawn has sage advice on invading Asia.

    Liberals who ignore this and dismiss Sanders will be our undoing.