Why Trump Isn’t Hitler
Many progressive voices fear that President Trump is moving America towards totalitarianism and/or fascism. Trump has brilliantly sold “America First” as a form of patriotism, while others say it’s really anti-American. Serious discussions may draw parallels between Trump and the history of Nazi Germany, even though it’s a conversation-stopper to call him the new Hitler. The hint is always there.
I don’t think Trump is a new Hitler for a fundamental reason: He doesn’t have an organized cadre of thugs to suppress dissenters. The early Nazi Party participated “hugely” in every counter-demonstration and politically-motivated street brawl it could find. That requires a giant organization Trump lacks.
The early Nazi Party had a hierarchical nationwide organization in Germany. There were leaders at every level who took orders from above and saw them obeyed by subordinates. The largest group was the paramilitary “Sturmabteilung” (SA). At the local level the SA included counter-demonstrators and street fighters.
The Nazi Party demanded fanatical loyalty. We’ve seen videos of fanatical Trump supporters at rallies. There’s even a video of a white supremacist group doing the Nazi salute to shouts of “Hail, Trump!”
Here’s the weird part: President Trump doesn’t surround himself with fanatical loyalists. He surrounds himself with family.
The Trump national Alliance
Imagine if Trump had a “Trump national Alliance,” pronounced T’n’A. Members have basic training on how to start disruptions and lay blame elsewhere. Higher levels include Trump-quality PR people to spin the appropriate bits of the story. This is the SA combined with Josef Goebells’ team of propagandists.
Now, let’s put on the Women’s March. The T’n’A would have systematically interfered with planning and transportation. News stories would highlight the risks of violence and the positive aspects of Trump’s presidency. The demonstrators who arrive find themselves mired in violence.
A White House spokesperson would shed crocodile tears about children injured, perhaps killed, because their careless mothers brought them to a dangerous event.
Trump and Loyalty
There is no T’n’A. It would require a large organization and a hierarchy of loyal subordinates. Trump traditionally works with money, not with teams of people. He hires a small number of people to do the big work for him. He doesn’t demand loyalty, he demands results.
I wonder if Trump has a tangible notion of loyalty: both in giving and accepting. He definitely understands it as theater. Perhaps many West Wing offices remain unfilled because he won’t trust subordinates to fill them.
As President, Trump holds enormous power. But he’s not invincible.