Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Setting the stage.

 


Not all Republicans are racists, but all racists are Republicans. How many times have we heard that one? And it's true. Not that some Democrats aren't racist, it's just that they practice what I like to call unintended racism. Or, in some cases, paternalistic racism. Which, for the record, I find just as offensive --if not more--than the other forms. The thing about Democrats, though, is that if you call them on their racism they will do some self-reflection and apologize for their ignorance. Republicans, on  the other hand, will do no such thing, and they will even double down on you. They will declare that YOU are the racist for even pointing it out to them in the first place. 

Which brings me to the CPAC conference which took place in Orlando this past weekend. This is something that right-wing republicans throw together every year to remind the rest of us in America that racism can be mainstreamed and dressed up to look like just another political convention.

 Unfortunately for the Republicans who gathered at CPAC, the rest of us were paying attention, and we didn't fail to notice their little wink and a nod to their Aryan friends. 

The following excerpt is from USA Today:

"It’s been said that you should never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Applying this maxim to the Conservative Political Action Conference makes it one of the stupidest organizations in American politics today, and that’s saying something.

As difficult as it is to get your head around, the stage at CPAC 2021 last weekend was built in the shape of a rebranded swastika, something called an odal or othala rune. This symbol was incorporated into SS uniforms and is frequently used by white supremacists. Neoget tattooed with this thing. It was even on display at the 2017 Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville. Here’s a picture of the CPAC stage next to a picture of a Nazi uniform. Judge for yourself.

An extraordinary controversy erupted over this, as you would expect. Any normal person on being confronted with such a colossally idiotic mistake would blanch whiter than a Klansman’s hood and take immediate steps to fix the problem while profusely apologizing for the screw-up and Googling to see if the federal witness protection program was accepting volunteers. But not CPAC host Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.

'Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous. We have a long standing commitment to the Jewish community. Cancel culture extremists must address antisemitism within their own ranks. CPAC proudly stands with our Jewish allies, including those speaking from this stage.'"

As I said earlier,  right-wing Republicans double down on their racism and ignorance, and they expect the rest of us to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that they aren't doing what we see them doing with our own two eyes. (Although judging from the media coverage the main stream media has been giving this story, it would seem that we are sticking or heads in the sand.)

I am one hundred percent sure that the staging was intentional, and so was the racist call to arms that it was meant to invoke. I am not sure if they thought that we would catch it, but clearly the leader of CPAC is not backing down now that they have been caught white- handed.  

Not all Republicans are racist, but all CPAC attendees, because of that stage and their refusal to acknowledge what was done, most certainly are. 

Image courtesy of economicleft.com


 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Caption Saturday.





Give me a caption for this picture. 



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The "huge con".


 If you want some insight on what has been happening to the GOP (or, as they are known now, the QOP) under Donald trump, check out this article from Mother Jones featuring a former GOP operative. 

"When Donald Trump decided to back-burner the coronavirus crisis and reboot his reelection campaign with superspreader events in June, he headed to an arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to present his case for four more years. In front of an audience of maskless fans standing side by side, Trump performed his usual routine. He threw out buzzwords (“law and order,” “left-wing radicals”). He boasted. (“I have done a phenomenal job” responding to the pandemic.) He denigrated his opponent as “Sleepy Joe.” He obsessed over personal grievances and slights, devoting much time to slamming news outlets that had recently shown video of him walking gingerly down a ramp after delivering a commencement address at West Point. What was mostly missing from Trump’s speech: ideas.

Although he referred to his tax cuts for the wealthy, his appointment of conservative judges, and his “beautiful” wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump had little to say about economic policy, national security, health care, education, housing, the environment, and other subjects. Moreover, he offered no agenda for a second term other than vague promises of making everything swell. Days later, during a friendly Fox News “town hall,” Sean Hannity asked Trump to spell out his plans for a second term. He replied by rambling on about his inauguration and attacking John Bolton.

All this was nothing new for Trump, who approaches the presidency more as performance artist than policymaker. But in the Oklahoma crowd were many unmasked Republican senators and House members, who clapped along and looked delighted to be props for The Trump Show. Once upon a time, Republican legislators and party leaders claimed they cared deeply about certain foundational issues—the deficit, family values, free trade, hawkish foreign policy. Now they were cheering a twice-divorced adulterer who had run up the federal debt, sloppily imposed tariffs, and embraced the anti-American autocrats leading Russia and North Korea—a man devoid of serious thought and guiding policy principles, a self-fixated candidate who presented no intellectual framework for his presidency. Had the GOP become the party of no ideas?

This seemed a premise worth exploring, so I thought I would check in with veteran Republicans who once were attracted to the party for its conservative ideals but who have become Trump critics. First on my list was Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid. I should note that I feel a bit awkward when I talk with Stevens. Plenty of people have asserted that my exposé of the “47 percent” tape in 2012—remember Romney denigrating nearly half of Americans as freeloaders who want the government to take care of them?—played a part in his defeat. But Stevens has always been gracious when we have crossed paths. And this time was no exception. It turned out Stevens had much to say on the current state of his party. Actually, enough for an entire book.

Asked if the Republican Party in the Trump years has become an outfit free of governing ideas, Stevens went even further: “It was all a lie.” He noted that this was word-for-word the title of his forthcoming book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump. The modern GOP, he said, never truly cared about the ideas it claimed to care about.

This was a stunning indictment coming from a longtime political consul­tant who had toiled on five Republican presidential campaigns and numerous Senate and gubernatorial races. “The Republican Party has been a cartel,” Stevens said excitedly. “And no one asks a cartel, ‘What’s your ideological purpose?’ You don’t ask OPEC, ‘What’s your ideology?’ You don’t ask a drug gang, ‘What’s your program?’ The Republicans exist for the pursuit of power for no purpose.”

He huffed that the Republican Party had not merely drifted away from its core positions, as sometimes occurs with political parties: “Fair trade, balanced budgets, character, family values, standing up to foreign adversaries like Russia—we’re all against that now. You have to ask, ‘Does someone abandon deeply held beliefs in three or four years?’ No. It means you didn’t ever hold them.” He added: “I feel like a guy who was working for Bernie Madoff.”

Stevens, an erudite fellow who is also a novelist and a travel writer, has become an emblematic ex-Republican. He once believed in GOP ideals and ideas. Now he saw it all as a huge con. His new book is a confession and cri de coeur. The first line is blunt: “I have no one to blame but myself.” In these pages, Stevens self-flagellates, calling himself a “fool” for his decades of believing—and lying to himself—that the Republican Party was based on “a core set of values.” Acknowledging his role, Stevens writes, “So yes, blame me. Blame me when you look around and see a dysfunctional political system and a Republican Party that has gone insane.” The book offers one overarching prescription for the GOP: “Burn it to the ground and start over.”

In our conversation, Stevens exploded with loathing for the party he once faithfully (and lucratively) served. He rejected the common view that Trump had hijacked the GOP. No, he explained, the triumph of know-nothing Trumpism marked the culmination of an internal conflict that had existed for decades between the party’s “dark side” and its professed ideals. Even William F. Buckley Jr., often hailed as a grand public intellectual and the founding father of the modern conservative movement, was “a stone-cold racist” in the 1950s, Stevens pointed out. (Buckley at that time considered white people more “advanced” and more fit to govern.)

“A lot of us in the party liked to believe the dark side was a recessive gene, but it’s a dominant theme,” Stevens, a seventh-­generation Mississippian who was named for Confederate Gen. Jeb Stuart, told me. “And it’s all about race. The Republican Party is a white party and there still are more white people than non-white people.” So that is whom the party aims at—even if this will eventually be a losing proposition as the nation’s demographics continue to shift. Ronald Reagan achieved a landslide victory in 1980 by bagging 56 percent of white voters; 28 years later, John McCain lost with 55 percent of white voters. Perhaps the party’s fixation on white voters can work one more time with Trump in 2020. “But we’re talking about the Confederacy—literally,” Stevens said.

And Nazi Germany. On his own, with no prompting, Stevens went straight to the Defcon-1 analogy: “I tell my GOP friends, ‘It’s crazy to say it’s 1934 in Germany…when it’s clearly 1936.’” He insisted that the 1930s are important for understanding the current moment. “When there was rising anti-Semitism, isolationism, and pro-Nazi sentiment, why did the US not become fascist?” Stevens asked. “Because of FDR. Leaders matter, and the GOP has now completely abdicated its role.” Instead, the party has yielded completely to demagoguery and race-baiting to exploit the racism and resentments of certain white voters. Throughout his decades as a Republican, Stevens considered this racist element a bug in the system. He now realizes it has been a feature.

In 2012, Romney enthusiastically sought and accepted Trump’s endorsement, though Trump had been championing the racist birther conspiracy theory. But for Stevens, the decisive moment when the party embraced its ugly heritage came in December 2015, when Trump, then the leading Republican presidential candidate, called for a ban on Muslim travelers to the United States. As Stevens now sees it, Reince Priebus, then the chair of the Republican National Committee, should have declared that the GOP did not support such bigotry and staked out a moral position. Perhaps Trump would still have marched on to victory, but such a move might have distanced the party from a racist candidate. Instead, the party kept mum and eventually folded to Trump. (Romney would go on to be the only GOP senator to vote to remove Trump from office at the end of his impeachment trial.)

Stevens now argues that Trump’s rise was not a fluke that the party can sidestep or survive. “This is the complete moral collapse of a governing party of a major superpower,” he remarked. He wonders how he could have been blind to the GOP’s racism and turpitude for so long. “It is hard to see this when you’re in the middle of it,” he said. “The only analogy I can find is the collapse of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the difference between reality and what is believed became so disjointed. I should’ve seen this. I did see this, but I wanted to believe the crazies were a minority.”

Stevens conceded that had Trump not come along, he still might not have been fully aware of the structural immorality of the GOP: The Republican Party was “a comfortable place for a lot of us. If Trump had lost, I’d probably still be working for a Republican candidate. But Trump made it impossible to deny what the party is. I just don’t get why these Republican senators don’t stand up to him. What’s the worst thing? You’ll be an ex-senator? They are the Trump Generation. It’s how they will be remembered. Like the segregationists of old.”

It was hard to slow Stevens down as he spoke. He had so much to confess. He forecast a bleak future for the party. Citing the demise of the Repub­lican Party in California (where more voters are now registering “no party preference” than Republican), he observed that the GOP was becoming a “regional/Sun Belt party.” And he shared his fear that young political operatives working for the party have drawn the lesson that a candidate must emulate Trump to win—that what most matters is not policy ideas but the ability to attack and exploit fears, divisions, tribalism, and resentments. “Elizabeth Warren can articulate a coherent theory of government,” Stevens said. “There is no coherent theory of government for Republicans right now. Usually a coherent theory versus an incoherent theory carries the day.”

“It’s really incredible how this had happened,” Stevens told me, as I realized I had received far more material from him than anticipated. “This is the last book in the world I wanted to write. It is tough to come to terms with this, and incredibly depressing. If we say we believe in personal responsibility, you have to take personal responsibility and start with yourself. We created this. It didn’t just happen.” Stevens was not pleased or satisfied with his epiphany: Ideas are not the currency for today’s GOP and never truly were. And Trump alone could not be blamed for that. “Republicans only exist to elect Republicans,” Stevens remarked with sadness. “They are down to one idea: How can we win?”[Source]


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Caption Sunday.

 


Give me a caption for this picture in six words or less. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Let them eat icicles.


It's interesting to listen to the reaction from the public at large and the media to the death of Rush Limbaugh. Really interesting. I mean I know that we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but we shouldn't be hypocrites, either. 

Personally, I am not going to say much about the death of the racist xenophobic blowhard who became a darling to conservatives all over this country. But I am reminded of an old Jamaican proverb: Gawd nah sleep. Which translated means: God is never sleeping. 

Anyway, it's been snowing again here in Philly. Mother Nature must be making up for these past few winters when things were relatively mild. (Memo to self: Invest in a very nice snow-blower for next year.)  I am going to count my blessing, though, I mean I could be living in Texas. You have to feel for those poor people down there. (Yes, even the Cowboys fans.) People have been without power in freezing temperatures in the Lone Star state, and the images coming out of there have been frightening. The word Dystopian comes to mind. 

What's scary is that the republican politicians who have been running that state for years are solely to blame for the suffering of their citizens. They have privatized their power grids and put cronies in positions of power and influence on matters having to do with energy in that state.  Then, incredibly, the the governor of that state went on FOX VIEWS and lied about the cause of the winter crisis. He literally blamed the problem on "the green new deal" and windmills.   In case you haven't been paying attention, there is no "the green new deal" as yet, and windmills work just fine in some very cold countries, including Canada and Sweden. 

But as despicable as the actions of the Texas governor was, it pales in comparison to what a former republican governor had to say about the suffering of the citizens of his state. 

 “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” 

Oh, and let's not forget Ted Cruz, a man who decided that this was a good time to take a vacation to sunny Cancun, Mexico, while the people he is supposed to be serving suffer under horrific weather conditions and misery.    

What is wrong with these heartless people? And what is wrong with the people in Texas who vote these people into office?  

I will close this blog post with the words of one particular mayor in Texas who has now resigned. 

“No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!

Only the strong will survive and the weak will perish. Folks, God has given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this."

That, my friends, is the right-wing governing philosophy in a nutshell. 

  




Monday, February 15, 2021

? Of The Day.



 Has Donald trump permanently destroyed the republican party?  

Friday, February 12, 2021

A legacy "forever stained".

 


The moon will be blue tonight, because I am going to post an editorial from the Wall Street Journal as my blog post.

"Whether a former President ought to be subject to an impeachment trial is a matter of constitutional debate. Whether it’s prudent, if acquittal appears likely, is a related question. But wherever you come down on those issues, the House impeachment managers this week are laying out a visceral case that the Capitol riot of Jan. 6 was a disgrace for which President Trump bears responsibility.

Long before November, Mr. Trump was saying that the only way he could lose the election was if it were rigged. On the night of the vote, he tweeted, “they are trying to STEAL the election.” In his speech that night, he called it “a fraud on the American public,” and said, “frankly we did win.” Is it a surprise that some of his fans took his words to heart?

Instead of bowing to dozens of court defeats, Mr. Trump escalated. He falsely claimed that Vice President Mike Pence, if only he had the courage, could reject electoral votes and stop Democrats from hijacking democracy. He called his supporters to attend a rally on Jan. 6, when Congress would do the counting. “Be there, will be wild!” Mr. Trump tweeted. His speech that day was timed to coincide with the action in the Capitol, and then he directed the crowd down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mr. Trump’s defenders point out that he also told the audience to make their voices heard “peacefully.” And contra Rep. Eric Swalwell, who argued the incitement to attack the Capitol was “premeditated,” it’s difficult to think Mr. Trump ever envisioned what followed: that instead of merely making a boisterous display, the crowd would riot, assault the police, invade the building, send lawmakers fleeing with gas masks, trash legislative offices, and leave in its wake a dead Capitol officer.

But talk about playing with fire. Mr. Trump told an apocalyptic fable in which American democracy might end on Jan. 6, and some people who believed him acted like it. Once the riot began, Mr. Trump took hours to say anything, a delay his defenders have not satisfactorily explained. Even then he equivocated. Imagine, Rep. Joe Neguse said, if Mr. Trump “had simply gone onto TV, just logged on to Twitter and said ‘Stop the Attack,’ if he had done so with even half as much force as he said ‘Stop the Steal.’”......

....he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct.

'Now his legacy will be forever stained by this violence, and by his betrayal of his supporters in refusing to tell them the truth. Whatever the result of the impeachment trial, Republicans should remember the betrayal if Mr. Trump decides to run again in 2024.'”

This is not Mother Jones, or even The Huffington Post. This is the Wall Street Journal. And if they can see what a horrific thing trump did in his failure of leadership, why can't 50 republican senators in Washington? 

It's a rhetorical question. Of course we know why they can't do it. It's because they lack political courage and a moral compass. They care about one thing: Holding on to power, no matter what the cost.

I hope it was worth it. Something tells me it won't be. I mean when you lose the Wall Street Journal.... 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Trial number two.

 


Donald trump's impeachment trial in the senate started today, and while I wasn't able to watch it live, I was able to watch later thanks to all the reruns on the nightly news shows. 

While watching Bruce Castor, the only person I could think of was Bill Cosby. He must have been sitting in his prison cell and cursing his luck because Bruce Castor chose not to personally prosecute him back in the day. If he did, Bill Cosby would be a free man. To say Castor embarrassed the Pennsylvania legal fraternity today would be an understatement. His performance wasn't even worthy of a  first year law student in a moot court class let alone a seasoned prosecutor arguing on behalf of a former president of the United States in an impeachment trial. Mr. trump himself was pissed about the quality of representation that was on display for him. But this is what happens when you lie and lie and lie. You can't get good help, because there is just so much that lawyers will put up with from their client.     

Castor's side-kick, David Schoen, was not much he better.  At one point in his meandering presentation he actually seemed to argue that the Constitution was unconstitutional. I say he seemed to argue because I had such a hard time following what he was trying to say. Had this been a trial in an actual courtroom I would have asked for a directed verdict and I am pretty sure that it would have been granted. Trump's team of lawyers were so bad, that one republican Senator, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, actually changed his mind and voted that the impeachment could go forward even though trump was out of office. Do you know how bad you have to be to flip one of these sycophantic trump loving republican politicians to vote against trump? 

Sadly, this is all for show, because incredibly 43 republican senators voted today that the trial should not even go on. They did this in spite of the fact that most legal scholars (including most conservative ones) agree that a president can absolutely be impeached after he leaves office. These republicans are so afraid of trump that they are terrified that they might piss him off. Cowards like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won't risk their political future in the republican party by raising the ire of their petty and vindictive leader.    

"We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office. A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial. This vote is not a prejudgement of the final vote to convict," Cassidy's statement read." 

Bring back Rudy.


Saturday, February 06, 2021

CAPTION SATURDAY.

 

 



I need a caption for this lovely picture. 

Example: Hi Mom, I'm going to jail.  

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Black Klansman?

 


I have some thoughts about the Mark Robinson situation in North Carolina.

To get you up to date, Mr. Robinson called an emergency press conference to condemn a cartoon in a local paper that characterized him as a member of the Klan. And just so you know, Mark Robinson is a black man. 

“On the second day of Black History Month, the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina has been portrayed as [racist],......that you would portray a Black man, just because he’s in the GOP, as a Klansman ... the hypocrisy is mind-numbing, folks.” 

Ok, portraying Mr. Robinson as a Klansman might be a bridge too far, but let's consider the issue at hand and why Mr. Robinson was characterized as a Klansman in the cartoon. 

Mark Robinson and the rest of the republicans on the State Board of Education do not want teachers to speak about systemic racism in the United States. To them, there is no such thing as systemic racism. Mr. Robinson personally does not believe that there is such a thing as systemic racism in America. And, he believes that to teach it, would only make children skeptical about the greatness of "the greatest country in the world". 

Ok, so maybe not a Klansman, but certainly a house Negro. These types of Negroes always seem to rise in the republican party. Some call it self-hate, I call it doing what they can to get along and enrich themselves. I don't believe for a minute that they believe half of the stuff that they say. It's a hustle, plain and simple. They know that if they separate themselves from other Negroes, they will get a pat on the head and the "You are different from those other Negroes", speech. 

"And if I ran a statewide publication like WRAL, I would not post something like that. It’s all about where you stand at the moment when you speak,” the Republican officeholder said.

Robinson said during Tuesday's presser he does not believe systemic racism exists. " [Source]

Sure Mark. I mean if it existed, you would never have become Lieutenant Governor of the great state of North Carolina, right?  If only other Negroes could take a page out of your book. *Eye- roll* 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Adenauer solution.

 


I honestly believe that we need a kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission similar to the one that was instituted in South Africa after Mandela came to power. It was necessary at the time to heal the country after the crimes of the previous Apartheid regimes were coming to light. 

I watched those specials on CNN about the attempted coup of the American government by all those trump cultists, and I honestly don't see how I could ever find common ground with those people. Frankly, I want them as far away from me as possible. But I can't deny that there are millions of them out there, and now, thanks to a republican party that is becoming crazier by the day, they are gaining real power in Washington as more and more of these crazies are being elected to national office. 

One has to wonder, then, how do we cope with these people? How do we deal with this segment of America's population? 

Here is an article written for Mother Jones by Benjamin Carter-Hett with a suggestion for how the country can deal with them moving forward.  

"In 1954, Eugen Kogon worried that the “the silent gradual, creeping, unstoppable return” of the ex-Nazis seemed to be the “fate” of Germany’s new democracy. Kogon, a Christian socialist intellectual who had been imprisoned in concentration camps, was not alone in his concern. For years after the 1949 founding of West Germany, liberal-minded Germans worried the transition to democracy would end with a rebound to authoritarianism. No one would ever think it’s easy, making the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Especially when the dictatorship has been a particularly brutal and murderous one. But for Kogon, and others yearning for democracy, a basic problem presented itself. What do you do with the people who ran the old regime? And what do you do with the masses of the old regime’s followers? Aren’t they all waiting for restoration—and maybe not just waiting, but actively working toward it?

At the end of the Trump era, we face a similar question. Trump’s post-election attempt to subvert democracy was no surprise. And the raiding of the Capitol was the sort of uncomfortable shock we knew might occur. It was, as I’ve written, our Beer Hall Putsch. This makes aggressive punishments for those involved an obvious need. If we do not do this, our democracy could spiral into dictatorship. Especially insidious has been the Republican Party’s reluctance to stop Trump, even after this attempted coup. Hundreds of Congress members still voted to overturn the election and against impeaching the insurrectionist-in-chief. The lesson is clear: One political party is committed to authoritarianism. We need a harsh reckoning now with those who directly supported the coup attempt.

But, as we look beyond this, there is still a broader issue: the willingness of Trump’s 70 million voters to believe the whole charade up to this point. And, if polls are to be believed, even after the events of January 6.  What about the voters who actively supported all this? What do we do with the aides, lackeys, flacks, and bureaucrats who helped his administration violate the norms of our democracy and bring myriad forms of grief to countless Americans? What about those who felt comfortable looking the other way while pocketing their tax cut? Comparisons between Trump’s regime and Weimar Germany, or Nazi Germany, have been done many times during his reign. Of course, the comparison is partial—Trump the person is a very long way from being Adolf Hitler 2.0. But if Germany’s pre-Nazi regime provides a lesson on how to counter a putsch, post–World War II experience also provides a lesson, on how to recover a democracy.

Kogon thought the return of the Nazis—back into the courts, the schools, the upper reaches of government—was going to be a “fatal” blow to democracy. The funny thing is some of the ex-Nazis Kogon feared so much actually agreed with him. One of them was Rudolf Diels, who had been the first chief of Hitler’s Gestapo. In the same year as Kogon’s lament, Diels complained about people who called him “a top Nazi” when “I only worry that they are coming again” and, when they return, “they will not start again at ‘33 but at ‘45”—meaning with the full, brutal radicalism of the end-stage Nazi regime.

Propaganda, then as now, was also a problem. An American diplomat reported in 1954 on the “loss of public confidence in leading Berlin officials, connected with internal political attacks and external propaganda directed to [the] unreliability [of] West German leadership generally.”

And yet we know that somehow democracy prevailed. The 1950s became known in West Germany as the age of the “economic miracle.” The parties of the democratic center extended their reach. The political extremes of left and right melted away. The country joined all the military, political and economic organizations of the democratic West. Gradually it became indispensable to all of them. In the 1970s a stronger democracy could fend off the challenge of domestic terrorism. In 1989–1990, the eastern Communist twin collapsed and Germany was triumphantly reunited. Since 2015, the rise of the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) and neo-Nazi activists in the Germany army and security forces has drawn media attention. But we need to remember that support for the far right is heavily concentrated in the former East Germany, more a legacy of the Communist German Democratic Republic. In recent years, global surveys have routinely found Germany to be the most admired country in the world.

In 1949 these later successes were all but unimaginable. The new West Germany hardly looked like a promising infant democracy. Among its 50 million people, over 6 million had been members of the Nazi Party, and millions more had belonged to Nazi-affiliated organizations or served in one of the many Nazi police or security forces. During the war, Germany had mobilized eighteen million men for service in one or another of the armed forces (far more than the United States, although Germany had only half the American population). A staggering number of them—a little over five million—had been killed in action, leaving countless millions of grieving family members. Around two million civilians had been killed as well, in allied bombing raids, or mass deportations near war’s end at the hands of liberated and vengeful Poles or Czechs. The luckier of those deportees reached West Germany, especially Schleswig-Holstein in the north and Bavaria in the south, owning only what they could carry. For years they constituted an embittered and reliably far-right voting bloc.

After 1945, Germans who had been victims of the Nazis—Jews, Communists, and other political opponents—were mostly dead, in exile, or in East Germany. There had always been more people who just kept their heads down and tried to get along. By war’s end they were all that was left.

These surviving, hungry Germans, in their ruined cities, with Allied occupation troops everywhere, thought that they were the real victims of Hitler and the war. They complained about the “self-righteous” allies. They didn’t know, or didn’t care, about the sufferings of people in the countries Germany had invaded or occupied. A palpable anti-semitism lingered and kept them from any feelings of remorse about the Holocaust. Quite the contrary: newspapers and magazines filled their pages with sensationalized stories of unscrupulous Jews making huge profits on black market coffee, or venturing forth from their “DP” (displaced person) camps to commit violent crimes against unsuspecting Germans. As the Cold War emerged in the later 1940s, the number of Germans willing to tell pollsters the Nuremberg war crimes trials had been “unfair” shot upwards.

It was in this atmosphere, in August 1949, that West Germany experienced its first free national election since 1932. Some scholars have called it “the last Weimar election”—referring to the Weimar Republic of 1919-1933—because, like in that earlier experiment in democracy, the 1949 contest revealed a bitterly divided country voting for a wide range of parties, from the Communists on the far left to the “German Party” and “German Conservative Party” on the extreme right.

The center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), edged out the expected winners, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), by a narrow margin: 31 percent to 29.2 percent. A few weeks later the newly elected Bundestag confirmed by one single vote the administration of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the leader of the CDU.

Adenauer seemed as unpromising a democratic leader as his country was an unpromising democracy. He was seventy-three years old when he entered the chancellor’s office, a dry and cautious man with no gift for oratory. In a television-saturated age he could never have risen to the top.....

 Adenauer was a committed democrat and anti-Nazi. He had been mayor of the city of Cologne for many years, until the Nazis, who hated him, drove him from his post. He endured the Third Reich in forced retirement, occasionally in prison, sometimes in hiding or on the run.

Now fate had given him a huge chance. For the last act of his life he could give his country a new beginning. He reassured his younger, ambitious rivals: he would just be there for two years or so. At his age how could he do more? He would hold the stirrups for them. Their time would come very soon.

In fact, Adenauer would be chancellor for fourteen years. He would triumph in election after election. In 1957, he would do what no other German leader has ever done: win an outright majority of the popular vote in a free election. The new Germany and its democratic success was as much his doing as anyone’s.

Let’s go back to the cool and un-illusioned eyes. Adenauer had watched as his countrymen and women fell prey to the Nazi demagogues. He was a democrat who had little faith in the democratic commitment of his fellow citizens. So, he thought, better not to test it too much: better to ask as little of them as possible.

This applied above all to those who had been active Nazis. The dry and correct Adenauer would never have said, like Lyndon Johnson, that he would rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. But he would have understood the point immediately. It was how he worked, too.

Adenauer talked about “drawing a line under the past.” One of the first bills the new Bundestag took up was an amnesty for Nazi criminals. It was followed by such measures as the “131er law” (passed under article 131 of the West German constitution) that allowed civil servants and even military personnel of the Nazi era to get their old jobs back. Such people were known for years as “131ers.”

In 1945, the victorious Allies had set out on an ambitious campaign of “denazification” in Germany. Although American, British, and French procedures were all somewhat different (Soviet procedures were unrecognizably different) the basic idea was to identify active Nazis, remove them from any possibility of public influence, and punish the most guilty with fines or imprisonment.

But by 1946 the western Allies found that examining millions of people was too much. They also realized that almost everyone who had lived in a dictatorship came out tainted—including the police, the firefighters, the engineers, the teachers, the doctors. You could have justice for Nazism’s victims or you could have a functioning society. You couldn’t have both. The Allies handed the procedure over to German tribunals, who predictably let almost everyone off the hook. Adenauer knew how much ordinary Germans detested the denazification system. As his administration took up its work, the whole increasingly pointless process was brought to a halt – though only after many of the worst Nazi criminals had been tried, convicted, and in many cases imprisoned or executed.

Of course, the emerging Cold War worked to Adenauer’s advantage—and he played brilliantly the cards it dealt him. The British and Americans wanted West German soldiers for deterrence or defense against any Soviet attack. But rearming was unpopular in Germany: the right opposed supplying soldiers to the same countries that were still imprisoning German commanders from World War II, while the left fought any use of Germans as cannon fodder. Adenauer pushed through rearmament, but extracted a high price for it. With every move toward a new army, he demanded and got concessions from the Allies—the end of prosecutions, the release of war criminals from prison, eventually the end of the occupation and the restoration of full sovereignty to West Germany.

Building up West Germany’s defense establishment meant bringing back the army officers, intelligence experts, police officials, and diplomats of the Nazi era. There was no other way. When the new army, the Bundeswehr, was created in 1955, its officers were overwhelmingly Hitler’s officers. West Germany’s foreign intelligence service was led by Reinhard Gehlen, who during the war had headed up intelligence on the Red Army. The courts were filled with judges who had handed down Hitler’s draconian sentences. Police officers had arrested Jews and Communists. Professors had taught the supremacy of all things German.

This went right to the top. Adenauer’s Chancellor’s Office was managed by Hans Globke, who in the 1930s had written the official commentary to the infamous antisemitic Nuremberg laws. In the 1960s one of Adenauer’s successors as Chancellor was Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who had been a Nazi Party member and had worked in the propaganda department of the Nazi Foreign Office.

None of this was morally attractive. The reintegration of former Nazis came at the expense of those who had fought Hitler’s regime, or been its victims. Resistance fighters, including the conservative officers of the famous Valkyrie plot, were widely reviled as traitors. A 1954 opinion survey found that nearly 40 percent of respondents thought that anti-Nazis who had gone abroad should be barred from holding any high governmental office in West Germany. Nor was postwar Germany a comfortable place for surviving or returning Jews. In 1950 a carpenter named Max Fürst returned to Germany from Israel. At first the only job he could get was delivering mail. One customer angrily protested that he could never accept his mail “from the hands of a Jew.”

But this was the material out of which a new democracy had somehow to be made. Adenauer understood this. And so he worked slowly, coolly, pragmatically. He steered West Germany toward membership in NATO and to what would eventually become the European Union, tying the unpredictable country to wider and more stable structures. He made things easy for ex-Nazis so that their secure life and career prospects would reconcile them to the new state. His reward came in three decisive re-election victories.

His country’s reward is the Germany of today: prosperous, solidly democratic, its citizens much more concerned with social justice and the environment then are those of most other countries. Success came at a price: the cost to victims and opponents of Nazism in the years just after the war, and later on, the radical extremism and even domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and 1970s that arose in reaction to the lingering Nazis and Nazism in all corners of the Federal Republic.

The final tribute to Adenauer’s work was ironic. By 1962, like many long-serving leaders, he had grown arrogant in power. In October of that year the news magazine Der Spiegel published an article highly critical of the new West German army, based on information which Adenauer’s administration claimed was classified. Der Spiegel’s editor in chief Rudolf Augstein and several of his reporters were arrested and charged with treason. An unprecedented and widespread outcry from a newly-energized democratic citizenry forced Adenauer to back down and, a year later, to leave office.

Then and since, some have argued that all Adenauer did was lead a “restoration” of the old, authoritarian Germany. But politics, as Bismarck said, is the art of the possible, and what were the other possibilities for a post-Hitler Germany? The radical right lurked just the same in the 1950s as in the 1920s: in veterans’ groups, revived versions of the Nazi Party, the embittered expellees. Adenauer’s policies drew the poison from them and brought them into the tent. The shortest and clearest response to the “restoration” claim is the Spiegel affair. Democratic outrage forced the old man from office. The system worked, even against its architect.

There are lessons for us in this experience. Just as West Germans in 1950 ranked Hitler second after Bismarck as the greatest German statesman ever, a large share of the American electorate still thought it was a good idea to vote for Donald Trump after four years of seeing what he was. As we have seen, ever more dangerous extremism is growing among the Trumpers. Those people will be with us a long while yet. For the sake of our democracy’s long-term health, they need a viable path back to the political center, not roadblocks of exclusion and retaliation. Those who have spent four years in rage at all of Trump’s abuses of human rights, the rule of law, and basic decency—and I count myself very much among them—will need to think hard about where political wisdom really lies. The cool, unglamorous figure of Konrad Adenauer offers a way to do that." [Source]

I disagree with the author's premise. A "cool unglamorous figure" would never cut it in 2021 America. There is too much social media, cable television, and 24 hour news to compete with. 

Moving to the political center won't work, because these "Trumpers" will never come there with us. They are, in my opinion, going to be forever locked in their extreme right-wing echo chambers and spaces. They are there for many reasons. Primarily for racial self-preservation, power, and sense of belonging with like-minded individuals. 

This has now gone way beyond just politics and political ideas. This has morphed into something else. As we can see from what transpired on January 6th. It's become darker, more baleful and way more  menacing. 

*Pic from qz.com