As a vote on calling witnesses looms in the Senate impeachment trial, and all the people who claim to know these sorts of things say McConnell has enough votes to prevent calling witnesses, I find myself recalling the ascent of Adolf Hitler to the chancellorship of Germany. From a précis of William Shirer’s account of Hitler rise to Germany’s Chancellorship, published in the Los Angeles Times:
When no party attained a majority after the elections of 1932, the president, Paul von Hindenburg, called for a coalition government (composed of Nazis, Communists, Social Democrats and the Center Party) and with Hitler as chancellor. On becoming Chancellor, Hitler had the Nazis torch the Reichstag, and had the Communists (who intimidated opponents also) blamed for the act. With the Communists purged from the Reichstag, Hitler, with von Hindenburg’s blessing, called for a new general election.
Hitler was again thwarted, as the Nazis were rejected by the people, and they remained a minority political party. Then, Hitler demanded the Reichstag grant him exceptional powers under a bill titled “Law for Removing the Distress of the People and Reich.” After much politicking, and with Hitler promising to respect von Hindenburg’s right of veto, the Center Party voted with the Nazis for the bill, thus giving Hitler the majority he needed in the Reichstag. With the bill passed, Hitler never looked back, as von Hindenburg died shortly thereafter. A constitutionally elected government was thus overthrown by its own legislative branch.
What has gone wrong, I suppose, is that the Founders assumed that legislators would be jealous of their prerogatives and power; certainly, they would be dumbstruck by the sight of a craven Senate acquiescing in the plain lawlessness of such as Donald Trump.
The classical, almost universally accepted explanation of Hitler’s popularity finds its locus in reaction against the humiliations of Versaille following World War I. Similarly, Trump’s support is found chiefly, though not exclusively, among the non-college educated who have been left behind, and often jobless, by evolving technologies and their associated cultural shifts.
It’s not over till it’s over, but the look of things just now is that we’re about to be betrayed into authoritarianism by cynical Trump sycophants — looking at you, Alan Dershowitz — and Senators cowed by the American Gothic crowd.