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History lessons

November 25, 2016

Since the nomination of Donald Trump, I have railed against him on social media and in other forums. I am happy to continue to do so. But I find myself irritated by many others who are promoting the same agenda that I am in a way that I find counter-productive, and even offensive. So, I’m going to tell you why.

Now this will take about 1,000 words, maybe five minutes to read. Please do, and share it if you like it because my audience is very limited.

Knowing that few people take the time to read more than four sentences, I will get some points across up front so you can decide whether to invest those minutes or not.

  • America in 2016 is not Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when Hitler came to power.
  • America in 2016 is not Russia in 1999 when Putin became Prime Minister.
  • Trump is not Hitler – not even close.
  • Trump is not Putin – not even close.
  • Trump is President-elect of the United States, and after inauguration he will have significant power, mostly confined to Executive Orders, a bully pulpit, influence over what Congress does, and the conduct of foreign affairs.
  • Trump cannot change the Constitution. He cannot pass laws or invalidate existing ones. He cannot control the media. He cannot ignore or suppress the voters of this country UNLESS WE LET HIM.

The very things that we fear will come about because of Trump have already happened many times over, and will happen many times again after he is gone. We will survive and even become better for the experience.

For those of you making the comparisons to Hitler and Putin and Nazis and Russia, you really need to study your history. And you don’t need to go back past my own lifetime, or even consider history outside the US. Most of the things that you are hysterical about possibly happening, and worse, have already happened here, and in my lifetime. We survived and grew stronger and better because of them.

  • Senator McCarthy lied and made wanton false accusations that ruined thousands, even tens of thousands, of people’s lives, and promoted some of the most evil social and cultural acts we can do to each other. All the while his fellow politicians, even knowing his duplicity, cooperated and supported the effort for their own selfish, parochial benefit. These were corruption and ethics violations that I doubt Trump could duplicate today.
  • Women have, unfortunately, always been the target of abuse, assault, suppression, etc., by men. Not just here and in my lifetime, but everywhere and throughout time. Trump has not invented this, he has not enabled this, he has not normalized this, he has not promoted this. He has brought it out in the open where it can be addressed and, to some degree, ameliorated. We can no longer disregard it, or deny it, or minimize it. We have to deal with it, and women will eventually be better off for it.
  • Police-state tactics have often been used against our own citizens resulting in hundreds of deaths and untold misery. Black and white civil rights advocates murdered, beaten, thrown in jail, attacked by dogs, lynched, often by the same law enforcement and political establishment charged with protecting them. Vietnam protestors attacked by police, and even killed on the campus of Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard. And so on.
  • Radical citizen groups fomenting terror, riots, killings, fear, threats, etc. also have a long history here. These range from Black Panthers and others bombing, robbing, and killing (and themselves being bombed and killed), to white skinheads and neo-Nazis and lynch mobs doing the same, to local militias organizing and practicing to do even worse, and many other examples.
  • Again in my lifetime, we have invaded and savaged foreign countries for reasons noble and base. Nicaragua, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Cuba, Lebanon, Laos, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and many, many more.
  • Political corruption and ethics violations are a way of life, from your local County government to the highest levels of elected and appointed office. Examples are too numerous to name, so just look around, read the news, open your mind, and use critical thinking and you’ll find plenty. The antidote: stop following candidates who are playing on your fears with phony issues and accusations and undeliverable promises; consider more than one issue when selecting who to support; vote for inherently good people, not ignorant or evil ones who happen to agree with you on some topic.
  • Attempts to suppress minorities are a standard practice here, and always have been. We fought a Civil War that was to a great degree caused by this. (That wasn’t in my lifetime, by the way, so stop smirking.) It has never worked past a period of tumult and change that is still going on today and will be going on long after I am dead.
  • Political/corporate greed and advantage is an issue almost too pervasive to identify. Rather, can you name any politician at any level of government who doesn’t benefit personally (beyond a reasonable salary) from his position? Does Congress have the same health, retirement, and social benefits that you do? Does their salary continue up while the minimum wage is too little to survive on?

We don’t need to make America great again – she has always been great. We need to continue to make her greater, and that initiative has lapsed in recent years.

And we’re not going to accomplish anything by raising the specter of Hitler and Putin to scare ourselves and others, and to reinforce our own beliefs and try to frighten others into agreeing with us.

Trump’s election is not the end of America as we know it. In fact, it is a validation of America. We have as a President-elect a man who lost the popular vote, who lied, bullied, cheated, and acted in the most vulgar way possible to get elected, and who is by all current, available measures, manifestly unfit for the office.

And yet he was peacefully elected. And he will serve his term after a peaceful transition of power. And he will function within the limits of our form of government and culture. He will do bad things, but not as many as you imagine. He will do good things, whether by accident or intent. He will be replaced, hopefully in four years, by someone else who will continue the traditions of America.

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