As a little girl I was naturally inclined to study history. I devoured book after book about World War Two and The Holocaust. Even then, I’d find myself wondering how this happened and how people could have let this happen. I tried to wrap my developing brain around the idea that the assumption seemed to be that everyone complied, but surely there were people who resisted. Right? I clung to that hope, because there have to be good people everywhere.
And this curiosity continued and grew into declaring History as my major. In college, much like as a child, I had a proclivity to take course after course on World War Two and The Holocaust.
What I’m saying is, I’ve been studying that time period probably as long as I’ve been able to read.
And, as an adult, now in her mid 30’s, I’ve finally found my answer:
People did resist. They did disagree, but their voices were drowned out by idle people who let a dictator methodically strip away the rights of citizens and secure his rise to power, because it suited their personal interests. In other words, they put party over country.
I’ve concluded this because we’re now living through it. I knew going into the Impeachment Trial in the Senate, that he wouldn’t be found guilty. The realist in me had accepted that. The bleeding heart liberal in me, though? Her bleeding heart is absolutely shredded into tiny red meaty pieces, strewn across a dirt road, and pecked at by scavengers.
Tonight’s news that Trump fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, his twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, and Gordon Sondland turned that light bulb on in my brain. The truth tellers are being removed. A warning to others. Head on a Pike doesn’t seem so nonsensical. But now, the next time he does something corrupt, will anyone want to speak up? Unlikely.
Since the trial began wrapping up this week, and the vote took place, I’ve been keeping myself busy. Not focusing on the news so much, and making a strong effort to not to let the absolute injustice of this man getting away with crime after crime until he finally reached the highest of crimes and once again, slipped on his teflon suit, upset me too deeply. While whipping up tacos for my sons and their friend who was over, that Vindman news alert popped across my phone screen. I swallowed and realized we’ve quite possibly reached the beginning of the end. Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” It’s abundantly clear that we are not meant to keep the great experiment called American Democracy. With his acquittal and now this Friday Night Massacre, Trump has solidified his rise to authoritarianism.
This is 1930s Germany and we are watching Hitler rise to power but being keenly aware exactly how this story ends. And it’s not pretty. Last time it ended with some 70–85 million people dead. That was 3% of the population in 1944.
And I’m sure there were people who couldn’t fathom that some guy with a bad haircut could trigger that kind of destruction when he was gearing up to invade Europe, just like you may be thinking, calm down, this guy with weird hair isn’t going to kill off another 85 million people. But maybe his actions will result in that or more? Because he finally tweets something awful enough that it starts a nuclear war. Who’s to say how it will play out?
The Constitution was supposed to protect us from having a tyrant inside our own borders. Today, the GOP is stomping on The Constitution and propping up a tyrant, albeit, a really dumb one. But with their unyielding support, a tyrant he’s now become.
And yes, we’re in the middle of a rather contentious primary election, but that’s the exact problem. The Democratic party is tearing itself apart and truthfully, the spectrum of ideology within the Democrats is far too wide. And one end of the spectrum is a real big fan of purity tests that the other end of the spectrum can’t pass.
And perhaps the two parties that dominate American politics have strangled us, thus solidifying our ultimate doom. In Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796, he predicted the ills of becoming so rooted in our political parties. Washington, on that historic day, where he willingly yielded his power in order to solidify a precedent that would last for centuries to come, stated:
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
And what if we get through all that infighting muck? We manage to avoid “the spirit of revenge,” and we don’t “seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.” And somehow, a miracle occurs, and the Democratic candidate ekes out a win. Who’s to say Trump will yield his power? I don’t see him being as gracious in recognizing the time has come to step aside, like our first President eloquently did. What do we do then? What will the GOP do then? Will they finally put country over party, like Washington implored as he stepped aside?
I’m not faithful in the GOP. It’s said that the definition of insanity is doing the same exact thing over and over and expecting different results. With that, I cannot dig deep another time for faith that they’d overcome party and despotism to ensure Trump yields his power indefinitely. Because they finally accept standing up to him is what’s best for America. Even if it’s not best for them. I just can’t expect that. I’ve already been disappointed too many times.
And that, scares me. Because I do know what comes next, and maybe we won’t march across Europe, but Trump’s evil vision will enable deeply rooted nationalism to the point of isolation and the rise of white power. We’ve already seen his followers embolden by his speeches and rants, and now? It will only get exponentially worse. The GOP has vindicated him.
And there’s nothing more terrifying than a vindicated despot.