Whatever the polls may reveal about the relative prospects for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the discourse, the tone, the focus of this endless campaign is horrible. It is sickening to see a deceitful and self-promoting sexual predator on the same stage with a fundamentally well-intended and long-experienced, if flawed, public servant.
This spectacle of a male candidate who assaults, lies, cheats, and steals with impunity screams out for perspective.
In 2008, author Nicholson Baker published Human Smoke, The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. It is a history—from August 1892 through December 31, 1941—of the public and private discourse and events that lead the world into war.
It is a factual narrative about Adolf Hitler, his surrogates and Nazi compatriots, world leaders, public figures, and ordinary citizens. Baker’s narrative is drawn from meticulously documented primary sources: newspaper and magazine articles, radio speeches, memoirs, and diaries.
The narrative describes in stark detail the nature of Adolf Hitler’s assault on the German people of the Weimar Republic following World War I, using lies, threats, and innuendo; passionately provocative and inciting rhetoric; scapegoating and demonizing; all the while playing on the genuine needs and frustrations of German citizens for his own political aims.
Hitler created an alternative world of falsehoods and bogus assertions that he promoted as factual and visionary. He was an ultra-nationalist, racist, white supremacist, dictator who played on the fears and vulnerabilities of German citizens.
Donald Trump acts remarkably like Adolf Hitler. The similarities and comparisons are unavoidable and inescapable.
What we get from Donald Trump in every debate, every rally performance, and every TV spot is “human smoke”—choking, blinding, gut wrenching cockamamie—every bit as cynically calculating, self-referencing, and self-serving as Adolf Hitler’s.