Trump critics make strategic blunder with Nazi comparisons
You knew it was coming. Eighteen months into the Trump administration and the president’s ostensibly serious critics have finally broken the glass on the “Trump-is-a-Nazi” line of attack.It is historically illiterate. They are also turning a real atrocity into a cheap insult of a policy difference and they are on the wrong side of the law, not Trump. Even when it comes to the lesser charge of authoritarian, Trump is a piker compared to Obama who tried to rule with his pen and phone rather than work with Congress.
To be certain, there were previous allusions to this from media, Democrats and “Never Trumpers” — accusations of authoritarianism meant to implicitly draw the connection between President Donald Trump and Nazi Germany. Apart from the “over-woke,” under-informed Hollywood set, however, critics largely managed to avoid making the explicit comparison.
Until now, that is, with the issue of family separations at the U.S. border dominating headlines.
But overwrought comparisons to the Nazis are both historically illiterate and an extreme strategic misstep. The president’s critics have crossed a rhetorical line from which there can be no turning back.
Apart from the historical ignorance in comparing the mechanized genocide of 6 million people with the temporary warehousing of children in detention facilities, going full-bore with accusations of Nazism is a grave strategic error on the part of those opposing the president.
There has been escalating rhetoric from the moment Donald Trump pulled off his “upset” defeat of Hillary Clinton, rhetoric that has reached its natural conclusion that Trump must be literally Adolf Hitler. For some bizarre reason, however, Democrats decided that now — five months away from midterm elections, and in the midst of a whirlwind of other headlines— was the time to deploy their rhetorical nuclear option.
Like it or not, news cycles move at breakneck speed in the Trump era and often are determined by the president himself. Last week’s summit in North Korea? May as well have been ten years ago. So, too, will the issue of border separations fall by the wayside as a gnat-like attention span turns to some newer, trendier outrage du jour. By the time midterms roll around, this latest contretemps will be the faintest of memories. Unconvinced? Here are all the other times Trump has “finally gone too far.”
This, then, raises the question: Where do Democrats and their “Never Trump” conservative hangers-on go next, rhetorically, having spent their shot on the border issue? Anything less than full accusations of Nazism will seem tame by comparison. Now that Trump is “actually Hitler,” any compromise by Democrats will be viewed as kowtowing to fascism. Conversely, sticking with the Nazism line of attack cheapens its effect and, frankly, makes its proponents come off as a little more than unhinged, something perhaps already at play given that a Gallup poll has put Trump at his highest approval rating to date.