<b>October 10, 2021</b>
Will Rogers captured the enduring character of our politicians on the left: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” There may be more potent prescriptions for failure and defeat than disarray and internal squabbling, but those will suffice. The Democrats have those traits in abundance and, irrational as it would be, if they don’t get their act together, the voters may decide to put the party that hates government in charge of it next year. Another of Rogers’ quips applies today: “Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.” Voters may prefer unified action, regardless of direction, to dithering accompanied by pompous declarations of high principle. The return to sanity, responsibility and constructive policies promised by Biden’s election is in danger.
Democrats’ squabbling reveals a lack of clear thinking, but they are a model of intellect compared to the right. There are many examples of truly idiotic statements by Republican leaders and hangers-on However, much of the blather is tactical, designed to stir up the base. Many theories have been advanced to explain how so many people could believe, or at least swallow, the nonsense and patent lies that pass for Republican policy. None of the various analyses of the behavior of the base, for example reference to authoritarian personalities, seems to me to fully explain it. However, whatever the mechanism, there is a striking, and frightening, resemblance to the behavior of followers of dictators, notably Mussolini and Hitler.
I’ve discounted comparisons of the American right to fascism because it seemed to me that the term was being used too loosely. However, a recent book offers this brief description of politics in Germany and Italy, and the rise of dictators, which applies all too well: “Out of the crucible of these years,” the early 1920s, “came the cult of victimhood that turned emotions like resentment and humiliation into positive elements of party platforms.” In this mind set, Germany lost the war not because it was defeated on the battlefield but because it was “stabbed in the back” by leftist elements at home; the Versailles Treaty cheated Italy out of territory it was entitled to for its minimal efforts in the war. Similarly, white Americans are being displaced, the government has been taken over by liberals who despise ordinary, hardworking people, other countries are stealing our jobs, and Trump lost the election because of massive fraud. The politics of victimhood redux.
I’m back to where I always seem to end up. With a populace as resentful, foolish and gullible as ours, we can be saved only by leadership, and some of it must come from conservatives.
<br>___________________<br>1. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, <i>Strongmen, Mussolini to the Present</i>, pp. 21-22