Death of Liberty

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”

The greatest danger often lies in the seemingly insignificant.  In the 14th Century rats and sea travel went hand in hand. It was just generally accepted as the way things were. Not worthy of a second thought…or even a thought at all. Yet, this seemingly insignificant fact of life destroyed nearly three quarters of the European population. More recently, the assassination of a relatively minor European noble, seemingly insignificant in and of itself, sparked what was known at the time as, “The war to end all wars.” Or, an upstart charismatic Austrian who had no real chance of attaining power in Germany eventually committing the single greatest atrocity in all of human history.

In other words, we often minimize the real threat to our humanity.  We laugh it off as impossible. Then, as we lay dying, wonder how the hell we got here. Time and time again, this phenomenon occurs throughout human history. Once the smoke clears, we swear we have learned our lesson. This will never happen again. Until the cycle repeats and it happens again.

The oft repeated line, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is ironically given both great thought and routinely ignored.  We read and share Santayana’s great truth while simultaneously ignoring the warning. We see the horrors of the past and chant, “Never again,” while failing to see the symptoms and events in our own society making such atrocity possible. Thus, history repeats itself, and once again we are left wondering how the hell we got here. And yet, future generations look at the patterns and wonder how the hell we missed it. It was so blatantly apparent.

It wasn’t that no one saw the danger, but they were a small minority. It wasn’t that the majority were inherently evil. They were, in fact, just average human beings who were misled. The combination of charisma, economic disparity (real or imagined), and manufactured fear can easily lead once noble humans down the wrong path. It has happened frequently throughout history. It is happening again.

There is truth to Goodwin’s law and the reason is a simple one. Take a speech from any politician compare it to any speech of Hitler’s and you will find striking similarities. This is because there was a lot of truth behind Hitler’s rhetoric. He frequently addressed the truly dire straits that was the German economy. He correctly addressed the raw deal Germany received from the Treaty of Versailles. (It should be noted, the sanctions taken against Germany was not without good reason. But, many Germans felt screwed over by the treaty and Hitler, brilliantly, used this to his advantage.) We view Hitler as the ultimate evil.  Thus, view everything that came from him as inherently insidious.  It is much more complicated. Hitler was a very charismatic man and a gifted orator.  In fact, he was quite correct in identifying Germany’s problems. From the economy, to the lopsided treaty, to the weakness of the Weimar Republic…he was right. He was, however, grossly wrong in the cause of these problems. At the same time, he gave the people exactly what they wanted. Someone to blame.

To me, the parallels are obvious. Completely separate from Goodwin’s law.  I see and understand the faults inherent within humanity which can lead to such horror. There are serious problems in our society, and Mr. Trump accurately depicts many of them.  When people are hurting we actively search for someone to blame for our misfortunes. Humanity will rail against the uncomfortable truth That it is our own apathy, our own complacence, which is often the cause of our woes. Rather, we will cling to the ludicrous idea that a single group of people is responsible.  And when someone uses our own prejudices against us we rabidly cling to the scapegoat they offer us a way to absolve ourselves from any responsibility for the problems we face. Yesterday, it was  Jews and immigrants. Today, it is Muslims and immigrants.

To those who stand there in disbelief, who think it cannot possibly happen again.  I assure you, it CAN. And, if we are not vigilant, it will. We are on the brink, poised to make the very same mistakes we SWORE we would NEVER let happen again. When we do so, it will be because we have let our own prejudices blind us to the exact same patterns that precluded every dictator, every evil empire, whether in fiction or reality, that has ever been known to man.

For the last ten years, I have been the first to call out the often hyperbolic comparisons. I have done so because I believe it diminishes the suffering of millions of people. Betrays the memory of those lost. Because it diminishes my children’s heritage.  I can say, with one hundred percent certainty, had things turned out differently my children would NOT be here. I can say this because they are the great-grandchildren of survivors.  As it is, it is a miracle my husband was even born. For not only did his grandparents survive Hitler, but Stalin as well. Somehow, not only did they manage to survive the war, they also managed to escape Europe and reach America.  A feat far too few of Slavic descent attained. I tell you this, not to brag about the blessings I have received. But to show you how serious this is for me.  I love my children more than anything.  More than my own life. Had either of these men succeeded in their endeavors my children would quite simply not exist. So, yeah, it means something to me.  What seemed foreign and far away in my youth has become extremely personal.

I tell you this so you know, when I make these comparisons it is not just the typical hyperbolic rhetoric. These are real, accurate, and frightening comparisons I once, naïvely, thought impossible in American politics. I was wrong. I see that now, and I hope to God the rest of the nation does to. Before it is too late and we are left with our hands in the air wondering how the hell we got here.

Now, in the spirit of true honesty, I must say, in many ways, Mr. Trump is right.  He accurately addresses many key problems in our economy.  The American Working Man has been repeatedly screwed by failed policies. We allow China to pad the market and break many of the rules set down by the WTO.  Lack of tariffs, quotas, and other disincentives has led many American companies to move jobs overseas. On that, he is correct. He is also correct in stating that these issues need to be corrected.  Of course, what he won’t tell you, is solutions to these problems have been routinely shot down by Republicans in Congress under the guise of ‘Free Trade.’

However, my issues with Mr. Trump are greater than Democrat v. Republican, Liberal v. Conservative. My concern is with the far, far too many parallels that can be made between Mr. Trump and infamous leaders of the past. He is a malevolent narcissist. His proposed ‘solutions’ are not only morally wrong but blatantly unconstitutional as well.  If you ask me if I honestly thought that Trump could be a fascist dictator, my answer would have to be a terrified, yes.

In the beginning, I too, saw his campaign as too bombastic and ridiculous to be real. I too, thought his nomination was impossible.  It was a joke. Hilarious to watch the establishment scramble.  I, too, underestimated not only him, but the gullibility of humanity.  As he continued, I slowly became convinced this was indeed very real and very dangerous.  I have heard the defense of some of his more asinine statements.  The most blatant. “Sure, he said it. But he didn’t REALLY mean it.” Ladies and gentlemen, yes, he did. Even if he didn’t, can we really afford to take that risk? Because not that long ago there was another raucous upstart who, “told it like it was,” “wasn’t afraid to speak the truth,” a “man of the people who couldn’t be bought.” Trust me, when I say, it didn’t go so well.

Currently, the nominee of the Grand ‘Ole Party, is a man who not only blatantly ignores the constitution but also holds none of the principles of the party he purportedly leads. The scary thing is, many Republicans see it too.

This is a man who has not only insinuated he would order the murder of innocent women and children, but also firmly believes such and order would be followed without question. That is the trait of a dictator, not the leader of a democratic republic.

A man who feels humans deserve torture. A man for whom the ends justify the means. A man who would sink to the level of criminals and terrorists. A man who feels limited by the Geneva Convention. A man who has threatened war with Russia. A man who not only refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, but actively calls out for more.  A man who has blatantly stated he will start World War III. People, this is not a leader. This is a dictator. Even in jest (I’m addressing my opponents early), none of this is OK, and from the ‘Leader of the Free World’ it would be disastrous.

A man who has promised law and order, despite the fact, such power is not in the jurisdiction of the federal government and not one of the enumerated powers the constitution allows the executive branch. Law enforcement, for the most part, is left up to states and cities. A man who promised an executive order mandating the death penalty, despite having NO legal grounds to do so. Who would obliterate the 8th Amendment to increase the pain of execution.

A man who has the support of nearly all the worst people on the planet. Seriously. The sheer number of frightening endorsements should be enough to give anyone pause.

A man who quotes, and seemingly admires dictators. Who does not even try to distance himself from White Supremacists and Neo-Nazi’s.

A man whose plans are nearly all unconstitutional. Immigration. Registration of Muslims (⇐ If I have to tell you why THIS is a problem…). Banning Muslims. A man who seeks to curb the Free Press. To violate the freedoms of religion and speech. Has argued, against members of his own party, to repeal the 14th Amendment.

A man whose supporters not only threaten violence, but also carry it out. Even to those within their own party. Actions the candidate has never criticized nor condemned. But actively encourages and defends. That the most violent, racist, and cruel members of our society flock to this man is cause for concern.

He is a man who ‘jokes’ about murder. Who routinely violates equal protection laws…and has since the 1970’s. A man who refuses to admit when he is wrong. A man who ‘may have’ supported Japanese internment. Praises the ‘strength’ of the oppressive Chinese government. A man who called out to another nation to break US law (and international law) while the official Republican candidate for president. (⇐Seriously, if I have to explain this one…)

He is a man obsessed with strength. Who sees pragmatism and diplomacy as weakness. A man with a self-inflated sense of purpose. Who supports rabid nationalism and genuinely thinks that he is the ONLY solution. That he is inherently superior to all others.  Come on, this is right from ‘How to be a fascist dictator 101.’

He meets criticism with threats. Dismisses them with disgusting remarks. Has admitted that he would seek laws to punish those who spoke ill of him. (⇐ Red Flag) Mentioned his genitalia in a debate…seriously!  Who wants to replace liberal appointees with loyalists. (⇐WARNING!! Literally, Hitler’s first move people.) Please, please open up your eyes and realize this man is the single greatest threat to American Democracy that EVER existed.

“To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”

― Elie Wiesel

I have a few beliefs that are unshakeable. The first is the resilience, generosity, and beauty of the human spirit. I believe we are capable of truly amazing and wonderful things. But that doesn’t mean I am blind to the faults of humanity. The darkness that lies within leading to horrors untold.

I believe in God. A creator. A great force of good in this world. A better life after this one. Not a God who ignores the evil in the world, but one who has taken a step back, allowed us to make our own mistakes. So we learn the lessons for ourselves.  I believe in a God who loves us, despite all our ills. A God who understands truth discovered is far stronger than truth that is given. A God who desperately wants us to get there. Who weeps when we fail. I believe he wept for Germany in the 1930’s. I believe he weeps for us now.

And I believe, with my whole heart, with every fiber of my being, with deepest conviction, the words written upon the single, most brilliant display of treason ever to grace the pages of human history.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I believe in this idea with a fire that cannot be extinguished. THIS is why we won the revolution. Not because of a superior army. Not because of the genius of our generals. But because an idea that once planted could not be uprooted. An idea that no war could destroy. I know that this idea has yet to be practiced in its entirety. There are those we have failed. Call me the Greater Fool, if you will, but I truly believe that this type of society is possible. I believe in the greatness of humanity. In hope.  I will cling to hope regardless of the ferocity of the storm.

My fellow Americans, we have come to a crossroads. One where we can continue our grand social experiment of equality for all. Or one where we lead from hate and fear. We have a choice, to be either on the right side of history, or the wrong one.

We need to open our eyes, and make the phrase ‘Never Again,’ mean not that it can’t happen again, to acknowledging the darkness within humanity. By making it mean it CAN happen again, BUT WE WON’T LET IT.

Our system is battered and bruised, but not broken.  We can either come together and fix the problems or we can decide it’s not worth fixing. I am not naïve as to how the system “works.” I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, because she is the Democratic Party nominee. Because I know nothing about the third party candidates. I acknowledge this is due to media bias. I agree that the two-party system needs to be dismantled and replaced with a more equal representation of our various beliefs. Yet, I know, as it stands, no third party candidate has a chance in winning a single state, let alone the election. I ask you all to consider this unfortunate truth in November. We have four years afterwards to make our elections more fair and equal.

Those who know me, know that I have never been a fan of Secretary Clinton. Despite the many disagreements I have with her, I will vote for her. I get that the status quo isn’t great. I get that many see this as a ‘lesser evil.’ I hear you. I understand. I am there with you. I too, am tired of the establishment, the lack of choice, and politicians serving their own self interests. Sick of it. I too, want change. Not by dismantling the idea, but by actually living up to it. It is a worthy goal. One I will push and strive for, for the rest of my life. But, to me, the facts are clear. Hillary Clinton does not, for all her ills, represent a clear and present danger to our constitution. Donald Trump does.

If you believe in everything Mr. Trump is selling, then by all means, vote for him. Understand that we will need to part ways. Because I will not support fear and hatred…however tacitly.  If you truly believe in everything I have spoken out against then there is nothing I can do or say to convince you otherwise. Regardless, I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

But, if you are considering a vote for Mr. Trump, merely because he has that (R) behind his name, please don’t. We need to let go of partisan politics. Let go of loyalty to party above our own interests. If that (R) is the only reason you are considering Mr. Trump, I implore you to truly consider whether this vote speaks to your conscience or against it. If your conscience will not allow you to vote for Hillary, that’s fine. I get that. Just don’t vote for Mr. Trump out of some displaced loyalty to a party that has never really had your interests at heart. (Same can be said of (D) by the way.)

If you are considering voting for Mr. Trump because you are tired of the Establishment, please, don’t be fooled. Donald Trump is very much a part of the Establishment. He cannot be bought simply because he’s the one doing the buying. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a Trump vote is anti-establishment. Open your eyes and realize, not only is he establishment, but that he represents the most insidious parts of it. If you are considering a vote for Mr. Trump as a way to “stick it to the man,” please God, don’t. Mr. Trump IS the man. If you really want to shake things up in Washington, to send a message to the politicians that we are sick and tired of their games. That their jobs are NOT guaranteed…then vote against every incumbent (R) or (D) up for reelection this November. If enough of us do it, they WILL get the message. And it has the potential to actually affect the types of changes you want. Changes we all want. For more than any Presidential election ever will.

I ask all of you to seriously consider your vote in November. To vote your conscience. To ask yourselves, if you truly believe in the constitution. And if you do, is Mr. Trump really the guy you think will uphold and defend it? These are serious times and they call for serious people. This not a joke, or a game. Who do you honestly think is the person worthy of guarding the values we hold dear? If no one, then no one is your answer.  I believe Mr. Trump to be a serious threat, not only to our Republic, but also to humanity at large.  I hope to God I am wrong. But you need to ask yourselves, is it worth the risk?

We are not Germany in the 1930’s. We are far better off, and our situation is not as dire as some would have you believe.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. –Edmund Burke

World War II and the Holocaust did not occur because Germany was rife with evil people. They were just people. People who were scared, hurt, and tired. People just looking for an ease to their suffering. The majority of those who voted for Hitler and the Nazi’s were not voting for the massive genocide that followed. It was never their intent. But the intentions of an action mean very little when the result is so catastrophic. Would you so eagerly accept the apologies of someone who voted for the Nazi’s if they said they didn’t mean for it to happen? Does the fact it was never their ‘intent,’ in any way, diminish the horrors of that era? The evil unleashed upon the world? You know it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything. Doesn’t help anything. Whether you believe the Germans were evil or fools, it doesn’t change what happened. Nor does it make it more acceptable. I urge you all to keep that in mind come November. A vote for hate is a vote for hate, regardless of how noble your intentions may be.  Fifty years from now, I don’t want America to look back with regret on what we unleashed upon the world. I cannot support a vote for Mr. Trump. Not because I am an American with American ideals. Not because I am a Christian. But because I am human, because I am a citizen of this world, and because I have the firm belief in the goodness humanity is capable of.

 

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

― Elie Wiesel

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