Donald Trump has officially assumed the mantel of the Republican Party. His rise to power, which seemed unfathomable just a few short months ago, is now incredibly real. Many who shrugged him off as a joke have replaced that laughter with shrieks of horror.
As Donald Trump asserted Thursday night, “we cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.” He’s right. The time for fluff pieces that paint Donald Trump and his campaign as just another political spectacle, adept at utilizing the media and creating a buzz is over. It’s time to shake away the orange tan and squirrel hair and take a closer look at who Trump’s predecessor was as way to prepare America for what’s in store.
So, what do you get when you mix a dash of nativism, with a splash of xenophobia, a dollop of homophobia, a twist of dog whistle politics, topped with misogyny? The Neo-Republican platform for starters, but this recipe is just a play on a classic—one perfected by another charismatic leader.
In her 2015 book entitled Hitler at Home, author Despina Stratigakos wrote this:
The 1930s marked the rise of celebrity culture, in the era of talking movies, radio and new lifestyle magazines. People developed a strong desire to know what the private person was like behind the public facade. Hitler’s propagandists took advantage of the new celebrity culture and even helped to shape it.
For more than a decade we have observed how Reality TV has become America’s popular culture. We’ve watched the rise of ordinary people and families turn into modern day monarchs because of the attention bestowed upon them by the millions of eyeballs tuning into to watch their shows, just to get a glimpse into how the rich and privileged live.
TV networks slowly moved away from paying the multi-million dollar salaries of Hollywood’s elite and instead opted to turn cameras on “real people” to find out what happens when “people stop being polite and start getting real.” What we know to be true is that there is nothing more alluring to regular Americans than the fascination with fame and riches both of which Trump has in spades.
The rise of Reality TV and obsession with celebrity has helped to create the perfect tempest for Trump’s own propagandists that have worked tirelessly to present Trump as a no-nonsense businessman that has little time for civility because he’s too busy getting rich and making deals.
In the article entitled, “How media ‘fluff’ helped Hitler rise to power”, author Charlotte Hsu wrote this:
In the years preceding World War II, news outlets from home magazines to the New York Times ran profiles of the Nazi leader that portrayed him as a country gentleman — a man who ate vegetarian, played catch with his dogs and took post-meal strolls outside his mountain estate.
These articles were often admiring — even after the horrors of the Nazi regime had begun to reveal themselves.
Over the past several months American journalists have been so entranced by Trump and his made-for-cameras persona that they have done very little to dig into the depths of his proclamations and just how dangerous they are not only to us here at home, but also abroad.
In his RNC acceptance speech, he said, “The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”
At first glance this statement doesn’t seem too terrible, right? Except, it is.
Americanism over globalism is a dog whistle for an insular America—the America of the Cold War, with closed borders as well as closed minds. We live in a global society now, with intertwining economies. We witnessed this just recently with the Brexit, which sent the NYSE reeling for days. America closing its borders both literally and figuratively doesn’t mean a better America, it means an isolated one that burns trade relations and sends our economy into the gutter.
The Daily Beast, in an article entitled: “The American Papers that Praised Hitler” wrote this:
“The train arrived punctually,” a Christian Science Monitor report from Germany informed its readers, not long after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. “Traffic was well regulated” in the new Germany, and policemen in “smart blue uniforms” kept order, the correspondent noted. “I have so far found quietness, order, and civility”; there was “not the slightest sign of anything unusual afoot.”
Something unusual and downright terrifying is afoot and our media has helped to put him and his rhetoric on every screen without a thought to the implications of such careless reporting for ratings.
When lamenting about how Hitler could rise to power without opposition the Daily Beast wrote this:
Perhaps it is not surprising that the sudden, unexpected rise of an extremist from beer halls to the halls of power would catch the Fifth Estate off-guard. What is troubling, however, is the extent to which some mainstream American newspaper editors and reporters deviated from accepted journalistic standards and allowed their better judgment to be clouded by wishful thinking, admiration for punctual trains, susceptibility to celebrity, or deference to the president. One wonders how their successors would respond if a comparable situation were to arise in our own time.
Hitler’s rise to power didn't start with oppression it started with a charismatic PR/branding fear campaign followed by the creation of a scapegoat (the Jews) that angry German's could blame for their lot in life. Sound familiar?
A comparable time has arisen and so far the successors to the journalists, editors and radio personalities (now TV and online) of the 1930s aren’t doing much better the second time around.