Listen, until I set up a Patreon account and become a rich blogger (this is common right?), I’m not going to edit my blog posts four times each, and they might be a little rough.
I read an interview sometime in the ’90s (remember those). I forget who it was with, but I think it was Jay Leno – it was some late night talk show host anyway. The interviewer asked whether the host felt bad about making fun of politicians constantly, and the host made a big point of saying that noooo, comedians were actually helping politicians by making fun of them.
His logic was that by mocking certain traits of politicians endlessly, it just got the public used to them, and to accept them. The example he gave summed it up: For years, comedians had been making fun of Bill Clinton for being a horned up womanizer. People got used to it quickly, and when he eventually got into multiple sexual scandals (Gennifer Flowers/Troopergate in 1992, Paul Jones shortly after, and then of course Monica Lewinsky), people didn’t pay much attention. By the time he was being impeached for the Lewinsky-related perjury, a ton of people just had the attitude of “Whatever, why are they wasting time on this?”
So the late night hosts argument was that if Clinton had a squeaky clean reputation, people would have been outraged at all his sex antics, but because they’d been prepped by a million terrible jokes, he got by fine. I think that now, in 2016, that general concept is well known and accepted, but when I was a kid (I was 3 years old in the late ’90s, I am extremely young and a millenial fyi), that really opened my eyes.
There is a contrast to Clinton basically getting away almost scot-free in the public eye: In the past 10 years or so, there has been an almost inconceivable number of anti-gay politicians, and religious leaders, who have been caught in sordid same-sex scandals. After being unmasked (“I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that damn Grindr app!”), almost all of these guys have wound up with their lives completely upended, if not ruined. The main reason is that people hate hypocrites, and they hate jarring surprises. (This is probably a pretty comprehensive list of them, aaaaand it’s kind of hilarious.)
It’s October, 2016, so of course this really long introduction somehow winds around to Donald Trump. Here’s the thing I keep thinking about (it will tie into that eventually):
A couple of years ago, people laughed at the idea of Trump getting anywhere near the Presidency. Most people thought he wasn’t serious, but they were wrong. Most people thought he would never get the Republican nomination, but they were wrong. In between those two events, dozens of other things happened that most people thought couldn’t, but those people were wrong.
My point here isn’t that he’ll get elected – I don’t have an opinion on this anymore. As of right now, 538 is giving Hillary Clinton a 66.7% chance of winning. That’s nice, but I’ve played enough card and dice games (goddamn Settlers of Catan with the wood and the iron and the whatnot) to know that 33% shots hit all the time, all the damn time.
My worry is that if he does get elected, I feel like everyone is still just downplaying all the really scary stuff he’s said. People are still sort of scoffing at all the outlandish stuff he says – he’s going to build a wall, he’s going to make a watchlist of left-handed people, he’s going to deport Muslims, he’s going to nuke a bunch of countries, etc. I’ve talked to several people who have opinions like “Oh that’s just stuff he’s saying to get elected – he won’t do any of it. It’s cliched to compare people to Hitler”, etc. It makes people feel better to discount all this stuff, like they discounted the chance of him getting this far.
But here’s where the start of this post comes in: People hate surprises. People hate when public figures turn out to be the opposite of what they advertised.
So if you have, as a goal, to deport every Muslim person, create a wall between the US and Mexico, or hell, maybe you want to do a whole bunch of stuff in the same vein – throw thousands of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay 2.0, kick certain races out of the country, create restrictive free speech laws, jail journalists who oppose you.. just any kind of crazy dictator stuff, the main thing you have to do is set the tone early.
You gotta break every taboo imaginable. You have to call women pigs, you have to call Mexicans rapists, you have to make not-really-jokey comments about people assassinating your political enemies. Hell, maybe you want to do something like send millions of innocent people to internment camps – it’s happened before, and there’s no really solid reason it couldn’t happen again – but if you do, you’re going to have to really go big to start.
You have to just completely give up on any sort of political etiquette people have done in the past and just go batshit. Kick a newborn baby and its mother out of a rally in the most humiliating fashion possible. Hire white nationalists. Advocate killing the families of terrorists. Egg your supporters on to beat people up at your rallies. Say that war veterans are failures and losers. Grope your damn daughter!
If you really wanted to just become the next Hitler (sorry to invoke Hitler, but it’s literally my favourite thing to do in life), you have to break every taboo possible. That way, when you start actually doing all the crazy bad stuff, people will not be that surprised, and maybe even go “well we kind of asked for this I guess”.
So I know some people reading this might be going “Oh yeah whatever, another guy saying Trump will be the next Hitler”, and I want to correct that. I’m not saying that Trump will be the next Hitler, and if you think that, you need to re-read the post. I’m saying he will be worse. He’s got everything set up really nicely to be Hitler 2.0 (SuperHitler?) – everything he does is based on ego and hubris, and I really think he’ll want to outdo Hitler. People, all I am saying is the man is the next Hitler.
Okay in summary, Hitler.
p.s. I want to clarify I hate Hitler.