Bush and Hitler:
Is History Repeating Itself?
by Cheryl Seal
Democrats.com, July, 2001
No one expected Hitler to rise to power.
He had failed at just about everything he had even undertaken
until he discovered politics. In the world of spin and power plays,
a superficial gift of gab and bullish determination could replace
intelligence and idealism without missing a beat. Hitler found
that the path to the top was short: Just tell a discontent people
what they want to hear and make promises you have no intention
In Hitlers first radio speech after becoming
Chancellor on January 30, 1933, he pledged [this is a direct quote
from that address] "to revive in the nation the spirit of
unity and cooperation" and invoked Gods blessing on the German
government. (Hitler was a fervent Christian until his egomania
superceded faith in a "higher power" - a fact too many
have either forgotten or never knew, thanks to sanitized school
history books). But, the Fuhrer soon proved he had no intention
of being a uniter. The Nazis' battle cry throughout their campaign
had been "down with the liberals!" Once in office, Hitler
made "liberals" (a mass group into which he lumped social
democrats, gays, Jews, and any threat to Hitler's model of Christian
society) his sworn enemies.
As soon as he was in office, Hitler began
ramming through one action after the other in rapid, aggressive
succession. His sidekick Goebbels, head of propaganda and undoubtedly
the bulk of the diabolical brains behind the operation, gleefully
wrote in his diary: "The struggle is a light one now as we
are able to employ all the means of the state [which included
the judiciary]". In addition, he noted, "Radio and press
are at our disposal."
Hitler believed that to consolidate his
power, he needed to create an "enemy of the state."
Contrary to popular belief, the first "enemy" Hitler
formally targeted was not the Jews but the Communist Party. Why?
Because they were the most outspoken activists against his regime.
Hitler was thus the first to invoke the spectre of "the Red
Menace." He intentionally sought to provoke party activists
to violent protest so, under his new aggressive laws suppressing
public dissent; he could round them up and arrest them. Aware
of this ploy, the Communists laid fairly low for a time, believing
that Hitler was merely a puppet of reactionaries and his regime
would not last.
But the Fuhrer, becoming progressively
more drunk with his new power, was not so easily thwarted. To
facilitate his demonization of the "Reds," he sent provocateurs
to orchestrate a staged act of "terrorism." Their dupe
was a young revolutionary named Van der Lubbe, who was implicated
in (i.e. framed for) the bombing of the Reichstag (the equivalent
of the Congressional building).
This incident gave Hitler the excuse he
needed for "cracking down" on "enemies of the state."
He rallied the Germans against the "terrorists" and
passed the odious "Enabling Acts," in which the government
was granted the right to bypass any due process for "suspects."
One human right after the other was revoked: the Jews were stripped
of all rights, trade unions were broken, and rival parties were
made illegal. In addition, Hitler began to isolate Germany from
the rest of the world: One of his first actions after assuming
power was to withdraw from the League of Nations.
From the start, Hitler courted the conservative
Christian clergy. To their shame, historically, many clergymen
became his closest allies and most effective tools, as propagandists,
spies, and suppressors of dissent. The clergys most important
role in the beginning, was to fuel anti-liberalism and anti-Semitism.
Jews, according to Hitler, were "the source of every ill
that had befallen Germany and of every continuing threat."
[Substitute the word "liberal" and you have the new
GOPs main party philosophy]. Historian John Weis pointed out that
"Hitler inspired only those who shared his anger."
Hitler made public dissent first all but
impossible, then illegal. At first, whenever groups tried to voice
a protest during a public speech, he would have storm troopers
clear the dissenters from the hall. Hitler also made sure that
the media did not give provide the public with any coverage of
dissenters or public protests because it was "encouraging
of destructive elements." [Recently when I asked a reporter
at the Associated Press why protests are not being covered, he
said reporters are instructed not to because to do so "would
be encouraging of destructive displays."]. So, what the media
faithfully recorded was Hitler and Hitler supporters. To see an
old German newsreel, youd never guess there were plenty of dissenters
around - at least until they were all shot or sent to concentration
Hitler was very fond of photo ops. He
believed they were his best form of PR and pounced on them at
every opportunity. The files abound with shots of Hitler with
bright-faced Germany families; he especially liked being photographed
with school children. At the same time, Hitler actively promoted
"family values" and high moral standards. He believed
women should go back to being at home with their families and
not in the work force. He also believed there should be little
or no separation between the state and his brand of Christianity,
especially since he firmly believed that the emotional fervor
of religion could be used to effectively to promote the states
Under Hitler, worker protections were
dismantled, one by one. Soon workers were laboring for longer
hours for less pay. Worse yet, all trade unions had been smashed,
so there was no recourse. Unfortunately, the Social Democrats
were not organized and did not offer a solid front for opposing
Hitler and his initiatives. Soon, they found themselves overwhelmed
by a highly organized, aggressive and fanatically single-minded
army of Nazi Party appointees who did whatever Hitler told them
to do without questioning. Here we end the story, because we all
know what happens next: the Holocaust and World War II.
STALIN AND BUSH'S CONSERVATIVE REFORM
MOVEMENT: A Pattern of Despotism?
Joseph Stalin was successful in seizing
and retaining power primarily because he was able to stack the
Politburo with politicians as extreme as himself and to dictate
their actions and their votes on every issue. Party dissenters
were harassed mercilessly by the Politburo members who remained
blindly loyal to Stalin. With a block of supporters who did not
think for themselves, Stalin was able to completely reverse Russias
policy on a number of key issues, right across the board. For
example, in 1936, he completely reversed the liberal communist
doctrines pertaining to family, divorce, and abortion. He made
divorce difficult, made abortion illegal, and stressed "family
values" [do we see a "dictator pattern" here?].
Stalin's propagandists used a three-point
strategy to convince the Russian people that things in Stalin's
policy that were in fact extremely bad for the country (including
the systematic round up and extermination of all "enemies
of the state") were in fact "good."
Point One: Create arguments that how the
negative thing is actually NOT bad, but is actually good. [Present
day ex: convincing people that greenhouse gases will give us lush
green plants, not fry the planet].
Point Two: Show how the negative thing
is actually not true. [Present-day ex: Global warming does not
Point Three: Show that the negative thing
is actually being caused by "enemies of the state" -
most likely liberals. [Present-day example: We can't sign Kyoto
because it is really a plot to ruin our economy].
THE GOP OF 1936 AND TODAY'S DIRTY POLITICS:
How the Former Gave Birth to the Latter
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., FDR was attempting
to guide the nation safely through the depression. The outrageous
treatment of American workers throughout the industrial era up
until that point by the corporate "bosses" had become
a major issue. Men and women worked 12-14 hours a day, had no
unemployment benefits, no health insurance, no safety regulations
- no job security whatsoever. In response to this sorry state
of affairs, labor unions were forming, but they were being met
with brutal resistance by the Bosses and their henchmen. Because
FDR championed the workers cause and called for all manner of
reforms - including the social security system - he was identified
as "the enemy" of the bosses. The Republican Party,
the attack dog of big business even then, was turned loose on
the President with a vengeance. His every step was "dogged."
Just as corporate America saw FDR as an
enemy, many of them, including IBM and G.W. Bushs grandfather,
saw in Hitler a friend and treated this vicious genocidal maniac
with far more respect and deference than they did FDR. The GOP
was to learn many of its nastiest tactics from Hitler and Goebbels,
including using communism as a scapegoat/enemy of the state to
consolidate power just as soon as they had a Republican back in
the White House (Eisenhower in 1952).
Another Hitler tactic learned by the GOP
was the use of the smear. Hitler advised telling a damaging lie
about an "enemy," then repeating it over and over, no
matter what proof may be offered to counter it. The GOP poured
an unprecedented amount of money into the 1936 campaign of their
candidate Alf Landon. The party launched what was then dubbed
the "nationwide selling campaign strategy." To do this,
observed political writer Ralph D. Casey in 1937, the party was
showered with the money and vigilant efforts of "a small
but determined group of businessmen." Casey says the campaign
was designed to be "an intensive, subtle, highly-organized
salesmanship drive to unsell President Roosevelt and to sell Governor
Landon and his highly-advertised common sense." [You have
to hand it to the GOP for single-mindedness: theyre still using
the same buzzwords - "common sense," et al. - after
The GOP "sales team" identified
several key points of attack, which they have used with almost
no variation in every campaign since, whether appropriate or not.
* Accuse opposition of overspending
* Accuse opposition of supporting "big
* Identify a bogeyman - usually the communists
and/or liberals [wonder who they learned that from?], although
they have gotten a bit creative and now include environmentalists,
anti-gun folks, and scientists on their list of "enemies
* Condemn New Deal (i.e., government social
programs) as communistic or in some other way unAmerican
* Manipulate statistics to own advantage
* Accuse opposition of waging a class
Day in, day out, the GOP attacked FDR,
throwing suspicions on everything he did, and said, and on everyone
he had ever known. His family dog was not even exempt from political
attacks! FDR had nothing but contempt for this self-righteous
underhandedness. He denounced the GOP as a pack of "economic
royalists" who used the flag and constitution as smokescreens.
"I welcome their hatred," he proclaimed.
It was the GOP that started the bane of
our current system: paid political ads. In the 1930s, these were
called "radio spots." It was in the ugly election of
1936 that the first conservative "talk show" was set
up. These programs were created expressly as outlets for GOP propaganda.
"No political party has ever excelled the businesslike effectiveness
of the Republicans in the distribution of their party propaganda,"
In the 1936 election, farmers and ranchers
were courted by Republicans who shamelessly praised them for their
"All-Americanism" a "rugged individualism."
At the same time, of course, the same Republicans were supporting
the right of bankers to foreclose on farms and ranches and opposing
efforts to provide farm relief. Even the usually non-politically-oriented
"Variety" magazine condemned the ruthless GOP campaign
machine. "Political parties are being reduced to merchandize
which can be exchanged for votes in accordance with a well-conceived
marketing plan, taking stock of income levels, race, local problems,
exactly as does a commercial sponsor. This differs not one whit
from the tactics employed by any corporation.
To their credit, Americans in the 1930s
were not as easily swayed by propaganda as they apparently are
today. They were grateful to FDR for having placed the interests
of the common man first and corporations second, for taking steps
to make life less stressful and uncertain through the construction
of safety nets such as relief and social security. In the end,
despite the estimated over 170 million press releases spit out
by the GOP and the countless millions it spent, the party could
not buy its way into the White House. . Instead, FDR was given
an earned vote of confidence by the American people to whom he
devoted the last decade of his life. Landon lost big time, winning
just two states (Maine and Vermont, which are both making up for
this lapse today). Three days before he was elected, FDR said,
"I should like to have it said of my first administration
that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met
their match. I would like to have it said of my second administration
that in it these forces have met their master."
How I wish he had been right.