Pol Pot. Genghis Khan. Joseph Stalin. Mao. Donald Trump.
By the time we get to November, America’s liberals will have run out of historical monsters. Trump won’t just be on the same level as dictators and mass murderers; he’ll be a unique threat to human civilization and the world as a whole. He’ll be the devil incarnate. Democrats are one step away from linking him to the quatrains of Nostradamus. The third antichrist has arrived! For the love of god, hide the children.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told Rolling Stone that she’d been doing some reading to prepare for Trump’s potential election.
“Over the past year, I’ve been reading a lot about what it was like when Hitler first became chancellor,” she said. “I am gravitating toward moments in history for subliminal reference in terms of cultures that have unexpectedly veered into dark places, because I think that’s possibly where we are.”
Maddow is not the first commentator to compare Trump to Hitler, and she’s probably not going to be the last.
On a new Facebook page, historians like Ken Burns and Robert McCullough have recorded videos comparing Trump’s rise to things like the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, the anti-semitic movement of the 1940s, and the immigration quotas of Depression-era America. Presidential biographer Ron Chernow said that Trump’s campaign disturbed him more than “any other presidential campaign in our history.”
And it’s only July.
Granted, conservatives are sometimes also guilty of exaggerating the threat posed by any individual Democrat. Our culture in general has become one where there’s no more room for nuance. Something is either the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever. No one’s interested in the middle ground anymore.
Even so, there are limits to the public’s tolerance for exaggeration. Donald Trump, just as he is, provides his critics with plenty of ammunition. His willingness to speak extemporaneously is a rarity in American politics for a reason; politicians don’t want to say something they’ll later regret. Trump has said plenty of stuff he probably wishes he could take back.
The problem is that none of those attacks are working. Trump is gaining support by the day. And liberals are getting panicked and frustrated. The polls are tightening, and the only response they have is to accelerate the rhetoric. He’s not just a racist – he’s a genocidal racist! He’s going to kill all Muslims! He’s going to nuke Mexico! There’s no telling what we might hear by the time all of this is in the history books.
It’s not going to work. The Democratic Party’s liberal base might enjoy turning Trump into Darth Vader, but it’s beginning to sound silly to most voters. Worse, people are going to start picking up on the subtext. It’s Hitler-esque to enforce congressional immigration law? Only a monster would consider pausing Muslim immigration? A presidential campaign that encourages patriotism is “disturbing?” Hmm…
Whatever else Donald Trump is, he’s not a menace to the planet. And the more liberals exaggerate his threat, the more people are going to realize that the real problem is not Trump – the real problem is that we’ve veered so far left that “America First” is seen as monstrous.