Above: The Front Page of Stars and Stripes, May 2, 1945
Image in the Public Domain
Just leave Hitler out of it.
—Morning Joe, April 12, 2017
As Sean Spicer has learned this week and, to his credit, he should have just left Hitler out of a discussion of the crimes of the dictator of Syria.
The Hitler analogy is one I hear people of various political stripes invoke against their opponents frequently. The analogy applies well to only a select group of individuals that includes Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, the body count of each of whom exceeds that of the Fuherer, responsible for the Holocaust. I recall that my Paul Broun, Jr., my former Congressman, compared Barack Obama to Hitler and Stalin–one a Fascist and the other a Communist–two opposing ideologies. I remember hearing someone say “Hitlery Clinton” years ago. I also recall hearing more than one person liken advocates of gun control to Nazis. Oddly enough, I do not remember hearing anyone condemning the ownership and driving of Volkswagens, vehicles of which Hitler approved, due to the Nazi connection.
The crimes of the Nazis–especially Hitler–were of such magnitude that one should never trivialize them. If every other thing is as bad as something the Nazis did, how bad could the Nazis have been? The answer to that question is or should be obvious: (1) The Nazis were especially evil, and (2) Very little has ever risen to the level of evil of the Third Reich. Evil of a magnitude lesser than that of the Nazis has long existed; examples have included Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.
As Jeffrey Toobin has said, “arguments are easy at the extremes. ” I conclude that the comfort level with the simplicity of easy arguments makes many people want to avoid the messier arguments between the extremes and leads them to resort to fallacies such as the misuse of the Hitler analogy. Doing so also weakens their arguments and reveals them to be idiots.
Can we just leave Hitler out of it when he does not belong there?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
APRIL 13, 2017 COMMON ERA
Above: Alexander Hamilton, First Leader of the Federalist Party
Image in the Public Domain
I am convinced that the United States of America has been in the Seventh Party System since or shortly before January 20, 1993. As a teacher of U.S. history on the college level, I think about various matters of the past, especially when students’ questions prompt me to do so.
First a brief review of the first six party systems is in order.
The First Party System was the Federalist-Jeffersonian Republican divide, with parties forming during George Washington’s administration. The national Federalist Party did not field a presidential candidate after 1816, but not all Federalists became Jeffersonians, some of whom had begun to sound like Federalists by that point.
The Second Party System grew up around Andrew Jackson in the 1820s. His supporters were Democrats, and his opponents merged into the Whig Party in the 1830s. Before that, however, they were National Republicans and Anti-Masons, the latter of which gave us the presidential nominating convention in 1831.
The Third Party System emerged in the middle 1850s, in the aftermath of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854). The Whigs came apart, as did the Democrats to a lesser extent, and the Republican Party emerged with a platform which included opposition to the expansion of slavery but not support for immediate abolition of that damnable peculiar institution.
The Fourth Party System began after the 1896 general election, in which Republican William McKinley won a landslide victory. The Republicans controlled the presidency for all but eight years (the Woodrow Wilson Administration, 1913-1921) through the end of the Herbert Hoover Administration (1929-1933).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt inaugurated the Fifth Party System, during which the Democratic Party controlled the presidency for all but eight years (the Dwight Eisenhower Administration, 1953-1961). This system ran its course until the 1968 general election and the election of Richard Nixon, who employed the notorious “Southern Strategy.” Lyndon Baines Johnson was correct; he gave the South to the Republicans when he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Sixth Party System began with Nixon and ended with George H. W. Bush. Republicans controlled the presidency for all but four years. Jimmy Carter, the sole Democratic president (1977-1981) during this system, was hardly an FDR-LBJ social programs type.
The Seventh Party System, I am convinced, began with the Clinton Administration or during the campaign of 1992. This fact has become obvious to me only in hindsight. (Historical analysis does require the passage of time.) Here is my case:
- None of the presidential elections (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016) has been a landslide, certainly not in the popular vote.
- Regardless of the identity of the President, about half of the population seems to hate his guts.
- A vocal proportion of that livid portion of the population entertains unfounded conspiracy theories. For the record, Vince Foster did commit suicide. Nobody murdered him, so there was no murder for the Clinton Administration to cover up. Also, the George W. Bush Administration was not complicit in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011; a hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, was the birthplace of Barack Obama in 1961; and Osama bin Ladin is dead. One can, however, find websites arguing against all these propositions. This means nothing conclusive; once I found the website of the Flat Earth Society.
- Vitriol, unvarnished hatred, and unapologetic indifference to objective reality has become increasingly politically acceptable. The abuses of power (and threats of them) commonplace in third world countries have entered mainstream political discourse in this country.
Also, for the record, Barack Obama is neither a Socialist nor a Communist. There are Socialist and Communist Parties in the United States, and they do not mistake him for one of their sympathizers.
It is long past time to lower the political temperature and retire over-the-top charges which distract from the serious issues of the day. We have a nation, one which has lasted for more than 200 years. Childish antics do not honor the highest ideals upon which our founders created the United States.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 4, 2011 COMMON ERA
INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)
Updated on November 7 and 9, 2016