In the 2014 German movie “Look Who’s Back,” there is a puff of smoke at the building where Hitler shot himself, and a man in a military uniform appears with a bad headache.
The mysterious man wanders to a newsstand, checking out the headlines. A journalist, thinking the man is a Hitler impersonator, sees an opportunity for a story, and drives the man around Germany. After studying Germany’s resentments, the man summarizes their economic grievances and resentments toward refugees, saying, “I can work with this. I’ll make Germany great again.”
Finally, realizing the man isn’t an impersonator, but is Hitler himself, the journalist confronts and shoots Hitler on a rooftop. Hitler tumbles off the roof, but bounces back, reappearing on the roof. The message is clear: the threat of fascism springs eternal. Hitler always returns.
And Hitler has returned in the form of Saddam Hussein, Viktor Orban, Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin and our very own Donald Trump. This is not to say that any of these dictators are exactly like Hitler. Certainly, Trump isn’t. Hitler actually developed Germany’s infrastructure, had an ideology, and wrote his own book. What “Look Who’s Back” is saying is that men with the same character traits are always with us. The amount of evil they do depends upon the time and place they gain power.
Trump has been identified as a “malignant narcissist” by many people. This is a term coined by Erich Fromm, Holocaust survivor and psychologist, to explain the personalities of World War II’s monsters.
Malignant narcissists combine the characteristics of psychopaths and narcissists with sadistic and paranoid features. These are men who have no sense of decency, are selfish, lack empathy, and have a grandiose sense of self-importance. They project their own evil onto others and seek revenge. Character disordered people wear a “mask of sanity” and live on the borderline between reality and delusion. They are great blamers, and can rationalize anything, sometimes becoming delusional, believing their own lies.
Most Americans can’t name it, but sense there is something dangerously missing in a man who can’t comfort the widow of a fallen hero, console families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, or who claims he is the “only one who can fix it.”
Prior to the presidential election, many local activists reported anxiety, depression and insomnia. They feared Trump’s re-election would extinguish the hope and light that America’s democracy has shown the world.
Liberals and honest conservatives believe Trump has seriously damaged our democracy, and if given a second term, would kill it. In 2016, Trump said he would only accept the outcome of the election if he won. Those were recognized as a tyrant’s words. Believing he is “the most popular Republican in history” and “a very stable genius,” Trump’s delusional grandiosity causes him to believe any election he doesn’t win is illegitimate.
Many feared a second Trump term would result in his being president for life. Trump said he was “enSnoqualmie Valley Recordd to a third term” because he was “treated so badly in his first.”
Although it would violate the Constitution, Trump also said he would continue as president for three or four terms “if the people wanted him.” Trump acts as if “saying it, makes it so.” It’s a reasonable fear Trump would proclaim people want him for a third term, without evidence, just as he now claims he won the election without evidence. With four more years to damage our democratic institutions, it’s likely he would have violated the Constitution to stay in power.
Many people feared that there would be election violence, causing swing states not to certify their election results. In such a case, Republican legislatures in swing states might appoint Trump electors.
Incidents of intimidation and some violence did occur around the country. Bipartisan election workers received death threats. Trump supporters showed up with guns at election centers. But nothing so severe that the votes couldn’t be counted.
Displays of intolerance and attacks on freedom of speech occurred in our Snoqualmie Valley.
Activists waved campaign signs on Snoqualmie Ridge for moderate Democrats — Congresswoman Dr. Kim Schrier (D-District 8) and President-elect Joe Biden. Receiving mostly positive honks, but nonetheless, they were surprised at how many drivers made obscene gestures.
In North Bend, when women waved Biden and Schrier signs near the stoplight, men came out of a pub yelling, “f*** Biden.” Maskless and waving Trump signs, they smelled of alcohol. They invaded the women’s personal space, calling them “pedophiles” and “c**ts.” One woman asked a Trump supporter to “stay away, step away, you’re too close,” but was ignored. Another woman said one of the men leaned over the top of her, edging closer as she moved back.
The Biden and Schrier supporters were local activists, but the Trump believers preferred to think of the women as “outside agitators” and kept yelling “Go back to Seattle.” Feeling bullied and fearing COVID-19 exposure, a woman called the police.
These attacks on freedom of speech and threats of violence from Trump supporters illustrate dangerous divisiveness. How did it become OK to verbally abuse and bully someone for exercising free speech? For supporting a centrist Democrat with a 50-year history of bipartisan moderation?
Let’s face reality: democracy barely survived. Trump advisers, including pardoned criminals Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, called for martial law. Trump continues attacking our election’s integrity, claiming he won. He has lost 38 lawsuits (as of this writing) to overturn the election because courts require evidence, and even one enabler, Attorney General William Barr, admits there’s none.
Recent polls show most Republicans believe Biden won because of fraud. Their evidence: Trump said he won. The reality is Trump was elected in 2016 by a minority of Americans, and never earned majority approval.
The real question is, how could Trump possibly win? Across America, hundreds of thousands of patriotic citizens volunteered to defeat Trump. For instance, our local Snoqualmie Valley Indivisible and Indivisible WA 8th Congressional District, had over 107,431 contacts with voters. They contacted North Carolina, Arizona and Washington voters. They made 17,000 phone calls, 46,000 text messages and 38,000 letters and postcards. There was an uprising of Americans to save democracy.
Trump’s major legacy, besides thousands of unnecessary deaths from COVID-19, is the damage to our democratic institutions, the loss of faith in the integrity of our elections, and the animosity between Americans. With 73 million voters falling under Trump’s spell, we have much work to do to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” With Biden’s election, democracy has another chance.
Roger Ledbetter is a politically-active resident of the Valley. He and his family have lived in Snoqualmie since 1979. Contact him through the editor by email: email@example.com.