Even in today's poisoned political climate one might wonder how America could embrace a demagogue like Donald Trump. The guy is blustery, so inarticulate that he repeats himself over and over, he speaks in generalities, never giving specifics on how he'll resurrect the America at our former greatness.
And yet he is roping in the masses. When anyone chooses to give even a semblance of thought about Trump's success it's not hard to see how he's succeeding. America suffers from a rapidly declining manufacturing base with jobs being exported to foreign countries in rapid numbers. Our currency, no longer backed by Ft. Knox gold, is only as good as the Federal Reserve keeps printing money and telling us everything's fine. Nearly half of America pay no taxes and live off the hard work of others...collecting a green check and/or many other government freebies. We have a President who exerts strength only when circumventing the Constitution....as Commander in Chief he's been AWOL for nearly eight years and a crumbling world order shows it. And we have a porous southern border making us vulnerable to both terrorists and some 30 million Mexicans who come here for overly generous municipal, state and federal benefits...to be enjoyed simply by dropping an anchor baby on American soil.
In addition to the many real and concrete problems, there exists a massive citizen ignorance. They do not take the time to study our problems with any degree of scholarship, thus tend to believe that the answers are easy. As an instance, millions of conservatives believed that the Republican victories which gave them control of the House and Senate in 2014 that things would change. They fail to understand the intricacies of the three branches of government, especially Obama's ability to issue Executive Orders and veto any conservative legislation that is passed to him. So, because of citizen ignorance, their anger becomes increasingly greater with "the establishment". They don't understand that, to affect real change, they have to change Presidents.
Amidst this poisoned atmosphere, amidst this massive citizen anger, a demagogue like Donald Trump emerges, one who speaks only in generalities, offers no specific solutions, just says he's gonna make America "great again".
A study of history illustrates a similar parallel. One need only look at the rise of Adolph Hitler. For more than half a century, after the dust of war had settled, we've wondered how a Hitler could ever be elected. Milton Mayer, in his seminal book "They Thought They Were Free" explains the birth of a Hitler. After World War I both Britain and France imposed the harshest reparations on Germany than any seen in history, despite dire warnings from our own President Woodrow Wilson that nothing good could come from it.
Wilson's warnings proved prophetic. As Britain and France kept their collective boots on the neck of Germany, as they sucked annual war reparations from the German economy, Germany sunk into a miasma of declining industrial production and runaway inflation. Under Germany's Wermacht regime inflation was so bad that a German would have to push a wheelbarrow of German Marks to the store to purchase a loaf of bread. National pride was at it's lowest and Germany was desperate for a savior.
Sadly, along came a madman to satisfy those cravings. Adolph Hitler promised to restore German glory, blamed all their problems on the Jews (one may substitute Mexicans today), and set about his aims to re-arm and conquer. And when it was all over twelve years later, Germany was in ruins and Hitler blew his brains out in his bunker.
Fortunately the Marshall Plan saved Germany from half a century of misery and economic ruin. Sadly, if we elect our own monster, there are no saviors for America.
We can learn from history...but only if we stop to think...if we pause and listen, to see if our current demagogues are really providing any answers to our national woes. Sadly, there are too few historians...and far too many who fail to study history, and work hard not repeat past mistakes. It would seem we are now bound to learn the hard way.
Sad. Damned Sad.