Editor’s Note: As the days of the Trump travesty dwindle down, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how any decent person could ever have voted for this pig of a president. At the time I was writing this piece, there was talk of impeachment for the Trump-led assault on the Capitol; however, there really isn’t enough time left in his administration for this to be practical. There has also been a lot of discussion of invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump incapable of finishing out his term. However, the problem is that this would need to be initiated by Vice President Mike Pence, and about the only way Pence could ever work up enough spine to stand up to his Dear Leader would be if Trump shot his wife right in front of him, and I’m not even sure that would do it.

Is Washington Burning?

I’ve never heard any historian describe Adolph Hitler as stupid. A surfeit of confidence in his military abilities may have caused him to make some poor strategic decisions during World War II, but no one could have become the dictator of 1930s Germany while lacking smarts. Brutally insane, probably. Monstrously evil, certainly. But not stupid.

Likewise, even those of us who detest President Trump rarely describe him as stupid. He’s despoiled the country and derailed democracy, but anyone who could become president with a personality as loathsome as his couldn’t be stupid. Worst human being ever to sit in the Oval Office, probably. Malignant narcissist, certainly. But not stupid.

Then how do we explain his disgraceful and embarrassing behavior since November 3? His record in courtrooms nationwide (1-62) makes him look silly or deluded. Meanwhile, he’s limited his chief executive activities to undermining democracy, inciting violence, and trying to overturn a free and fair election. And why has he struggled to hang onto his presidential duties — such as dealing with the pandemic and the Russian cyberattack — long after he’d lost interest in performing them?

Hitler comparisons tend toward hyperbole, and are always a tough sell, as are Mussolini analogies (despite the Orange Man’s uncanny physical resemblance to the Italian tyrant and their nearly indistinguishable mannerisms). Although inhumane, separating Hispanic toddlers from their parents, then caging them, is not equivalent to Auschwitz. Regardless, Trump’s tactics since his landslide electoral defeat and Hitler’s during the fall of the Reich in 1945 show some disturbing similarities.

Like a spurned husband who doesn’t want anyone else to have his woman, because he can’t have her, Hitler ordered Paris destroyed before it fell to the Allies. However, General Dietrich von Choltitz, the city’s German commandant, disobeyed his orders, and Hitler was denied the response he hoped for to his infamous query, “Is Paris burning?”

Subsequently, the Fuhrer decided the German people had let him down, and didn’t deserve the modern, industrialized, thousand-year empire he’d stolen for them, so he demanded that loyalists, such as Albert Speer, oversee the destruction of the Fatherland’s infrastructure. This was not just to prevent the Allies from seizing it, but to deny it to the German populace that had failed him.

Fast forward 75 years to all the speculation concerning how much damage President Trump could do to his own country in his final days in office. Enraged at being spurned by the electorate, he convinced gullible conservatives his rightful place as “Dear Leader” had been stolen. His divisive conspiracy theories required no proof, evidence or even plausibility, because The Donald, the right-wing media and his bizarre attorneys (Rudy Giuliani for one) can convince his ovine cult of almost anything, merely by saying it.

Today’s Brownshirts — e.g., the thuggish Proud Boys (note: “boys,” not men) — and the other red-hatted terrorists who attacked the Capitol spew white supremacist rhetoric reminiscent of the past century’s fascists. And like Trump’s 1930s antecedents from Germany and Italy, he’s undermining the very democratic processes that brought him to power in the first place. He’s attacked the free press as an “enemy of the people,” and suppressed the vote by reducing the number of polling places in minority areas and hamstringing the Postal Service to hinder safer mail-in voting during the pandemic.

That being said, I have an idea I’d like to see discussed. What if widespread voter fraud actually happened, only not by the Democrats? Think about it: The Republicans run most of the state houses, including those in the swing states; they own the executive branch and the courts (including the Supreme Court); and they run the Dept. of Justice as if it were Trump’s personal law firm. Which party is in a better position to rig an election?

And what better way to distract the American people from a GOP effort to steal the election than by accusing the other side of doing that which you’re guilty of. Trump has always indulged in the psychological defense mechanism of projection, in which the best defense is a good offense: He’s constantly floated delusional, harebrained conspiracy theories about Democratic cheating, as well as the disloyalty of some in his own party.

It’s easy to believe Joe Biden beat Trump handily. Four years ago, a far-less-popular Hillary Clinton outpolled Trump by 3 million votes. What’s hard to believe is that he wasn’t beaten by even more than the actual 7 million vote plurality — that it wasn’t even more of a landslide — given Trump’s preternaturally incompetent presidency. He’s mishandled a pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of deaths on his watch; wrecked the economy (at least for nonmillionaires); and sent unemployment skyrocketing.

Since Trump’s usurpation of the GOP, conservatives have abandoned integrity, morality and patriotism, so I’d expect them to cheat. In fact, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t, based on the importance their evangelical base places on Trump as the “Chosen One” — a messianic figure anointed by The Lord to reign over us. As 20th century fascism should have taught us, cult figures will always inspire reverence, blind loyalty and fanaticism.

In 1945, many in Germany’s “deep state” resisted the Nazi party’s suicidal “scorched earth” policy. Similarly, the Georgia GOP officials who resisted Trump’s seditious phone calls to find illegal votes — an effort as treasonous as his incitement of the mob to seize Congress — put democracy and their country ahead of loyalty to the party and its Duce.

However, none of this means Trump has behaved stupidly. Just as Hitler and Herman Goering looted Europe of a fortune in artworks at the end of World War II, so too is Trump using his fictitious campaign against nonexistent voter fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for himself. If anything is stupid, it’s that ordinary citizens feel an urge to send their money to a millionaire and a traitor.

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