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Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids

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As World War Two ground to an end in Europe, the Third Reich’s killer bureaucrats finally started displaying some good old common sense. They began emptying out the death camps and destroying as many records as possible pertaining to their “Final Solution,” like cats diligently covering up their dirty deeds in the litter box.

It didn’t save them in the end. As Hannah Arendt pointed out in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, their work was just too openly conducted and too accepted by themselves and everyone around them as, well, normal, to be successfully hidden after the fact. But at least they tried.

This year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates could learn a lesson or two from the final gestures of Eichmann and company. If they had their wits about them, they’d hide their sick light under a bushel and at least pretend to give a hoot about quaint concepts like human rights, international law and the US Constitution.

Instead, the GOP’s presidential nomination race has become a rhetorical arms race to see who can position himself as most boisterously supportive of reprising all the crimes we’ve doggedly and piously pursued and hanged the Nazis for over the last 70 years.

Ted Cruz wants to know if sand can be made to glow in the dark.

Donald Trump chortles at a supporter’s condemnation of Cruz as a “pu**y” for his insufficiency of fervor in support of torture.

The whole Republican pack (now that Rand Paul is out) foams from the jowls at the prospect of using, rather than curbing, the executive powers Barack Obama has expanded and abused over the course of his two terms, including but not limited to waging war without Congress’s permission and assassinating US citizens without charge or trial (John Kasich wants to “punch Russia in the nose,” but at least Vladimir Putin bothers to deny murdering Alexander Litvinenko; the US brags about murdering Anwar al-Awlaki).

True, they’re all veritable George McGoverns next to Hillary Clinton, the most bloodthirsty woman in politics since Elizabeth Bathory, but that seems to be more a matter of means and opportunity than of motive.

And true, Bernie Sanders comes off as ever so slightly less insane on all of these issues, but his actual record reminds me of Barack Obama’s whole hope-y change-y schtick and how that panned out.

Unfortunately, 90%+ of American voters will likely pull the lever for one of these murderous sociopaths come November instead of supporting an anti-torture, anti-war, limited government, pro-freedom candidate (they’re called “Libertarians”).

And just like the “good Germans” who supported their leaders’ crimes until doing so became embarrassing, those voters will bear responsibility for what follows.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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