Time and again in these troubled and troubling times people make reference to Germany in the 1930s, the rise of the Third Reich, and to Hitler as they express their fears regarding the Obama administration.
It is an interesting comparison if only because it reveals a sense that an authoritarian government is poised to impose its dictates. This is highly unlikely if only because the forthcoming midterm elections give every indication of overturning any such ambitions by the present administration.
It is, for example, bleeding its top economic advisors, the former chief of staff to the President, the sudden resignation of the president’s national security advisor, and, most tellingly, virtually every Democrat running for office is running away from Obama’s legislative agenda.
Obama is hardly a Hitler and the Democrats are hardly Nazis. It's a bad comparison.
I think what is at the heart of the comparison is the way, in just under two years, Americans witnessed the government takeover of the healthcare sector, one sixth of the economy, the takeover of General Motors and Chrysler to the benefit of the United Auto Workers and the loss of their creditors and bondholders, and a so-called stimulus package that by most accounts has wasted billions.
The general anxiety is bolstered by the stagnation of the job market and a widespread belief that Obama, Pelosi and Reid, along with the Democrats in Congress, have taken the nation in the wrong direction. Those familiar with history see the kind of conditions that existed in Germany in the 1930s that were the background for the rise of the Hitler and the Nazi Party. Hitler, however, was not massively abandoned by his supporters as Obama as been.
It happens that I have been reading a book, “Berlin at War”, by historian Roger Moorhouse. What we tend to forget is that the National Socialist party, led by Hitler, was freely elected to power by Germans and, in general, had their support because of its early success energizing a moribund economy.
Though we know in hindsight that Hitler was a monster, at the time he gave Germans a reason to take pride in their nation again and he proved adept at adding more territory to Germany without firing a shot. In the years leading up to the invasion of Poland in 1939, Berliners and other Germans were generally content with Hitler and the party.
It wasn’t until 1943 that Berliners began to feel the affects of the war in ways other than rationing and the conscription of their fathers, brothers, and sons. “After the first spate of bombings through late 1940 into the spring of 1941, there had followed a period of almost two years in which Royal Air Force raids on the capital became fewer and farther in between,” noted Moorhouse. “So, when the RAF reappeared in the skies over Berlin on the night of 1 March, it came as a shock.”
Americans were shocked to see Obamacare rammed through the House and Senate on a party line vote. It came after nearly a million Americans had shown up at the steps of the Capital building to protest against it.
In effect, the Obama administration had declared war on Americans. It was not merely unresponsive to the majority, but contemptuous of it.
What Obama forgot or never knew is that our government exists with the consent of the governed. What he forgot or never knew is that our presidents govern, not rule.
Something quintessentially American occurred.
The same sense of unity and urgency that Americans felt after Pearl Harbor, that spurred the Greatest Generation to take on totalitarian threats in two theatres of combat, occurred in the rise of the Tea Party movement because many Americans perceived that their nation was literally under siege by an enemy and this time it was an internal one.
It took twelve years of Nazi rule and the reduction of Berlin to rubble for the usurpation of power to end on May 9, 1945. Compare that, then, with the Obama administration that began on January 20, 2009 followed by a swift loss of public support because of, not despite, its thuggish political effort to reshape the American model into a European socialist one.
Americans are just weeks away from “taking back” their nation from a man who hid or denied his real life from the voters to get elected on the basis of his oratorical skills and the stage managing of mass gatherings that were curiously reminiscent of Nazi rallies.
Obama had the good luck of having a lackluster opponent and a financial crisis that too conveniently broke just before the election in 2008. Even so, his margin of victory was slim.
It is not 1930s Germany. It is America in the first decade of a new century with new challenges.
It is an America that has been through recessions and even a Great Depression, and which must learn again the fundamentals of the Founding Fathers; the need for a small, limited central government, the importance of sovereign, independent States, fiscal prudence, and citizens free to make their own choices regarding their lives.
© Alan Caruba, 2010