In 1933, after a decade and a half of tumultuous politics that frequently turned into street violence, the German “Reichstag” (parliament) empaneled a cabinet led by Adolf Hitler to run things. Hitler’s “Nazi” party was not the biggest party in the Reichstag – they’d actually lost seats in the most recent round of elections – but they were in a strategic political position.
While the Nazis are (mostly mistakenly) called “far right”, the interesting thing is that the “Hitler Cabinet” had about as much support from Communists and Socialists as it did from the populist and “conservative” (which meant monarchists and Catholics, at the time) blocs in the Reichstag. Both sides – Communist and Monarchist – had the same reason to support the Nazis taking control of a coalition government; a bunch of populist extremists with a private army of thugs would drive the German middle to the Left or the Right. That is most extremists’ first goal; make the center untenable.
It backfired on the brilliant minds of the Reichstag, of course; Hitler, promising an end to divisive politics from all sides, forged “Unity” (by co-opting, neutralizing, exiling or killing the geniuses who’d put him in power); his cabinet led the entire world to war seven years later.
The only thing worse than “divisive” politics is no politics at all.
Keep that in mind when you see episodes like those last Saturday at the MN State Capitol, where masked thugs attacked Pro-Trump demonstrators, or two weeks ago at Berkeley, or…well, the list is going on and on and on, even now. I’ve seen more than a few people on social media, no doubt angry and frustrated, exclaim how they’d like to be at the next such rally, to break some heads (and I’ll confess, in my heart of hearts, the thought’s crossed my mind, at least for a moment before I chased it out).
Just like 85 years ago, that plays into the hands of the *real* extremists. Extremists are happiest when they’re creating more extremists – and it doesn’t even matter whose side those extremists are on. And then, when the vast middle gets sick of “politics”, and turn to someone who’ll just bring “order”…
…well, I’d say “we know where this leads”, but all too many Americans really really don’t.