To watch Donald Trump rant and rave uncontrollably on the stump and on Twitter — praising Saddam Hussein for his disregard for civil liberties,insisting the anti-Semitic propaganda he inadvertently borrowed from neo-Nazis is as innocent as a Disney poster — is to ponder the psychology of a party that would entrust supreme executive authority to a racist, nationalistic, power-worshiping demagogue.
To be perfectly clear, Trump is not Hitler or a Nazi. Trump’s racism is not of the genocidal variety, and he is committed neither to a program of Darwinian racial conquest nor the principled imposition of one-party rule. If President Trump does start a world war, it would probably be as a result of blundering rather than a long-term master plan. But the two figures do have certain traits in common relative to the political environments they inhabit.
Like Hitler, Trump is a radical, authoritarian figure who lies outside the normal parameters of his country’s conservative governing class. Thus, there is a parallel between the two men’s unexpected rise to power that is worth considering: Why would traditional conservatives willingly hand power to a figure so dangerous that he threatened their own political and economic interests? Why, having failed in their halfhearted efforts to nominate an alternative candidate during the primaries, don’t they throw themselves behind a convention coup, a third-party candidacy, or defect outright to Hillary Clinton? Why do so many of them consider Trump the lesser rather than the greater evil?
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