In America anything goes, given the appalling level of political illiteracy in the political class and media, not to mention the masses, so you can believe that, yes, there is now an increasing amount of speculation —the new “buzz”—that Donald Trump has one or more characteristics in common with the German Nazi Chancellor/President/Dictator (yes, he was all of those things) Adolf Hitler (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/poynter-compares-donald-trump-hitler-120361, http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2015/07/01/eva-longoria-compares-donald-trump-to-hitler/, http://www.politicususa.com/2015/08/28/trump-nazis-finally-conquer-america.html, http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-ex-wife-once-said-he-kept-a-book-of-hitlers-speeches-by-his-bed-2015-8, http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-24/guest-post-trump-worse-hitler. ). And there has been at least one plea to stop doing so (http://www.frontpagemag.com/point/259898/can-we-please-stop-comparing-donald-trump-hitler-daniel-greenfield). So, I thought, I might as well enter the game.
First, the similarities. There’s the racism, the xenophobia, and in Trump’s case, substituting for Hitler’s extreme prejudice against one religious grouping, the Jews, it’s another, the Muslims. There’s the speaking style (although Hitler’s was apparently well-practiced, while Trump’s apparently isn’t), and with it the ability to whip up the right audiences into a frenzy. There’s the frequent name-calling in re opponents.
There’s the “our nation must be great again” — although Germany had lost the last big war it fought, and while the U.S. cannot be said to have “won” the last big one it engaged in, the War on Iraq, while millions of people on the region have clearly lost much, starting with their lives, militarily at least the U.S. did not lose. But that doesn’t stop Trump from trumpeting on that one, just like Hitler did. For Hitler, after the Jews, the Great Enemy was “Soviet Bolshevism.” For Trump it seems to be Russia (although I do think that bunches of U.S. persons are confused on that point, especially with the constant demonization of Russian President Putin [the new “Stalin”, of course]). (And yes folks, on a newscast on MSNBC on the morning of October 1, 2015 I actually heard a reporter refer to Russia as “the Soviet Union,” not once but twice, before she caught herself. Well, you know there’s that new Steven Spielberg movie about Gary Powers and the swap coming out.)
Then there are the vague promises of a great future, without telling much about exactly how they planned/plan to get there. There’s the ample use of the Big Lie Technique (but that it common to all of the current crop of Republican leaders, and the entire political class in America). There are others too, but among the most important, a characteristic that kept/keeps both men going is that they didn’t/don’t embarrass. They never had/have to apologize, explain, defend. They were/are the prefect avatars of Lee Atwater’s consummate principle of politics: “Always attack; never defend.” (Would that the Democrats would learn this principle, but that’s another story.) Finally, it is clear that Trump just loves personal power, just like Hitler did.
Now for the differences. First, as most readers of this site are well aware, Trump does not have nearly the mass following that Hitler had. While before the functional coup d’etat of January 30-31, 1933, Hitler’s Nazi Party did never command more than about 37% of the vote (in a country where most people voted), Trump has only gotten into the 30’s, of Republican voters, which amounts to about 15% of the total. Of course, we do have to remember that in a Presidential election, only about 50% of the eligibles vote and in 2016, Republican voter suppression will begin to exact a major impact on the number of Democratic votes recorded.
Second, Trump does not have a mass, very well-organized political party behind him, personally. For Hitler the National Socialist German Workers Party (yes, hard to believe, but that was indeed the literal translation of what “Nazi” in German stood for, a calculated move to steal some wind from the socialists’ sails and other genuine workers’ formations) provided huge electoral clout in the localities in which it was powerful. If Trump does get the Repub. nomination, we really don’t know what the National Republican Party will do for him. But whatever that would be, it could not compare to the personally loyal Nazi Partei.
Third, Hitler had a huge (up to three million part-timers strong) private army, the “Sturmabteilung,” the SA, the Storm Troopers, the much feared and despised—and in other quarters admired—“Brownshirts.” They were his enforcers, frequently engaging in violence against his primary opponents, the Communists and the Socialists. As documented by numerous historians and journalists, the NSDAP was cradled from inception by the Reichswehr and paid for from the beginning by major members of the German ruling class led by the steel magnate Friedrich “Fritz” Thyssen. (An early  foreign supporter of the Nazis was a U.S. person named George Herbert Walker. [Sound familiar?].) Trump has nothing like this. But since there is no organized resistance at present to the kind of long-term authoritarian threat that Trump might become —or suggest to better skilled politicos—in the future, that is immaterial.
Fourth, one huge (huuuuge[!]) difference in practice is that while Hitler was arguably the world’s greatest Keynesian political economist, in terms of the government’s role in making the economy hum, Trump would likely be as far away from that as he possibly could, although possibly not for infrastructure, which might be as big for Trump as it was for Hitler (except that Trump would likely attempt to privatize any major expansion).
Fifth, as far as we can tell so far, Trump has no Thyssen equivalents. He is wealthy (although it is not known for sure just how wealthy he is). And he seems—as part of his calculated appeal of being “unbribable” —not to be seeking outside ruling class money, so we don’t know how much he could attract.
Finally, and this is certainly another major difference, obvious to many here but important to note for the record, Trump seems to have no firm belief system. Presently, he is of course riding racism of two types: a) no one who supports him has forgotten his racism-based “birtherism,” you can count on that, and b) of course the anti-Latino (especially Mexican for some unknown reason — maybe because they are the closest ones) variety. His tax plan clearly benefits the wealthy (including himself) even more than they are already benefitted. His xenophobia is right out front — see his attack on the Syrian refugees. He has grandiose ideas for “making America great again” (as if it were not, militarily at least, right now) but, characteristically, has given no clear ideas on how will do that, on either the financial or the military side. And so on and so forth.
But, he has in the past been rather a liberal, endorsing a single-payor health care payment system, freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy, a friend of the Clintons, and certainly not until 2012 not an outspoken Republican. Hitler, in contrast, despite his malignant political philosophy, had a very firm belief system, probably as firmly wrapped around his messianic ego as Trump, a raging megalomaniac. Just read Mein Kampf. He was not an anti-Semite for electoral purposes (although he used it in that way). He really believed that “The Jews” were not only the cause of every single problem facing Germany, but the rest of Europe as well. He really believed that if The Jews were all killed, the world would be a much better place. He really believed that the “Aryan” German people (you know, blond like Hitler, slim like Goering, and tall like Goebbels, as the old joke goes) amounted to a “race,” were superior to everyone else, and deserved to rule the Earth. Trump doesn’t seem to have that level of racialism or even degree of intellectualism. In that area, Trump is a midget.
And so, do I think that “Trump” equals “Hitler?” Well, not yet. But hey, you never know in a land as benighted as America, and remember that international events always play a big role in how the plutocracy plays its cards at home.