Are the Democrats Channeling Neville Chamberlain…or George Santayana?

Photograph Source: Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA de

Accommodating a pathological narcissist does not lead to peace in our time.  Ignoring the lies, hateful speech, and antidemocratic actions of an amoral psychopath will not preserve a republic. Such acts enable fascism to flourish.

These statements are not opinions about what will occur if the Democrats in the House of Representatives of 2019 fail to place our constitution and the future of the nation and planet ahead of their personal political futures.  These statements are facts linked to the failures of England and Europe to arrest the death and international disorder visited upon the world by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi minions.

The politicians surrounding Paul von Hindenburg thought that supporting the appointment of Hitler as German Chancellor on January 30, 1933 would be a fair trade, allowing them to maintain their power and pelf while requiring only containing a person they regarded as no more than a politically naïve clown spewing nonsensical ramblings of hate, division, and Aryan superiority.  As their estimation of the ease of manipulating the clown evaporated, cowardice and complicity were transformed into war crimes involving the deaths of 50 million people.

The trade made by many contemporary Republicans – assurance they would not be “primaried” in quests to retain their elected positions; offerings, in the form of a tax cut, to wealthy benefactors; and judicial appointments guaranteeing that the courts would tilt, for generations, towards the rich and the White and away from the poor and the diverse – requires only ignoring the perfidy of Donald Trump and accepting daily hypocrisy regarding their oaths of office.

As evidenced by the events of Charlottesville, 2017 and by the seemingly unending series of mass shootings motivated by racial, ethnic, and religious hate permeating the nation, people can and will die in the face of the Republicans’ deal with a despot.  Will the prophecy of George Santayana be repeated? Will more die and will irrevocable destructions of democratic norms and institutions and of the lives of free people occur, as Republicans remain mute and as Democrats act only to let the process play out?  Democrats gather more evidence, issuing demands and seemingly impotent subpoenas for access to people and documents, while they are stonewalled by Trump and his versions of Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, personal attorney, Hans Michael Frank, and State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice, and President of the People’s Court, Roland Freisler.

At this writing, there are polls indicating most Americans believe that Trump is a liar who acted repeatedly to obstruct justice.  There are also polls indicating only a minority of Americans want these actions – and the demeaning of American values and world standing – addressed through launching an impeachment inquiry.  The Democrats can wait for winds of change to somehow create a majority of Americans willing to see our nation go through a tumultuous but necessary impeachment process.  Alternatively, they can show the courage to lead public opinion and not wait to follow it. They can act to halt what will be a world-wide calamity if Donald Trump continues to be accommodated by uncourageous politicians.

Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D. is the Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and the Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.  Lerner has more than 700 scholarly publications, including more than 80 authored or edited books. The recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to science and society, in July 2017, Pope Francis appointed Lerner to a five-year term as a Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.