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Many voters have haphazard methods of evaluating political candidates and their parties when campaigns are heating up, the phone banks start calling, or we are considering writing another futile letter to our elected officials or the editor of the local paper.
Decision-making for voters in this year’s presidential campaign is no different, especially with the two ballot referendum choices in Minnesota. Voting this year is probably more important, considering the huge volume of clever and often misleading TV advertising that viewers have been subjected to ever since wealthy billionaires and their wealthy corporations and their devious SuperPacs have been given near-total control of media advertising—thanks to the five conservative pro-corporate activists on the U.S. Supreme Court, in its outrageous Citizens United decision that allowed such institutions to secretly and anonymously give unlimited amounts of money to political smear campaigns.
I submit that prospective voters consider using a strategy I use to decide whom to vote for. It is fairly simple, but it does require some knowledge of the history, politics, and psychology of fascism.
Before I vote, I try to answer some of the following questions about the candidate and his or her political party:
• Where on the right/left political spectrum would your candidate have been if he had lived in pre-Nazi Germany? Would she have been a member of one of the left-wing, labor union-supporting, antifascist (socialist) parties, or would she have been a member of one of the right-wing, corporate/militarist, anti-socialist, nationalist parties (like the Nazi Party)?
• If the candidate had lived in Nazi Germany, what were her political, racial, economic, and theological beliefs, and would that have made her a fascist-supporter, a courageous anti-fascist resister, or a fear-ridden, silent bystander as the various “final solutions” were being planned and implemented for Jews, pacifists, labor union organizers, socialists, communists, liberals, homosexuals, gypsies, and Slavs?
• If the candidate had lived in Nazi Germany, would he have been recruited by the Nazi Party to serve Hitler’s racist, antifeminist, homophobic, xenophobic, and pro-war agenda, or would he have been willing to risk his life and freedom working for the victims of fascism in the battle against Hitler’s wealthy, war-profiteering corporate underwriters?
• Would this candidate and her party stoop to use dirty tricks, obstructionist tactics, and lies against opponents during political campaigns?
• Is this candidate receiving large campaign contributions from large corporations?
Usually the general answers to these questions make my voting decisions clearer, although most politicians and their parties are clever enough not to reveal much of what they have been doing behind closed doors, or who the power brokers are that the parties are serving. It also helps to be a critical thinker, to be able to read between the lines, and not trust the party’s or the corporate-controlled “mainstream” media’s distracting dis-information about the opponents and their issues.
If the candidate’s previous voting records are available, then I will vote against the candidate, party, or financial backers with the most proto-fascist (fascist-leaning) qualities. So, in other words, I will try to vote for the candidate that has a history of opposing racism, economic oppression, and militarism, and who works for the progressive, altruistic causes of real democracy, equality, fairness, tolerance, peace, justice, liberation of the oppressed, and the willingness to dialogue and even reconcile with supposed enemies.
The Pentagon spends 2
billion scarce dollars a
day for war and the
preparation for future
wars, and it is the rare
dares to say “no more”
A major problem of course is that America’s two political parties have been seduced by lobbyists, infiltrated by wealthy campaign contributors, and are essentially in the back pockets of the biggest business going: the world champion deficit-spender, the budget-busting Pentagon. One only has to witness the uncritical automatic support that virtually every congressperson and every president in recent memory has given for every exotic and unaffordable weapons system that collectively contributes, along with the illegal wars, to U.S. military spending that amounts to $2 billion per day.
Our politicians have turned into obedient lapdogs of the bloated, too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-criticize, 800-pound gorilla military-industrial complex that regards with disdain all civilian or military war resisters. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Weimar Republic, and Adolf Hitler were equally in thrall to Prussian militarism and Krupp Steel Works, the largest producer of lethal weapons that the world had ever known (until the U.S. took over that dubious distinction).
Professing (or pretending) to be centrists and middle-of-the-road types, in order to appeal to as many of their constituents as possible, means that most candidates can’t promise to adhere to any progressive, good-for-humanity/good-for-the-planet agenda when they emerge from the smoke-filled rooms where they have just had their talking points laid out by the party whips and had their pockets filled with bribery money for their next campaign. Pro-peace, pro-justice, and anti-militarist ideas are taboo subjects for both major American parties, although the 2012 Republicans take the prize for allowing no peace people inside their tiny, ever-shrinking tent.
Could it be that some
of our most visible
cal candidates are
stealing whole chapters
from the fascist
For those with some curiosity about the history of German fascism, here are a few more specific questions that one might ask when preparing to support a candidate or a party:
1) Do your candidate’s tactics resemble those of the pathological liar and silver-tongued propagandist Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s loyal party sycophant and Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, who had total control over movie-making and radio programming, never allowing any progressive leftist issues to be aired in a fair and balanced manner)?
2) Are the candidates and their parties avowedly militarist in their voting records or proclamations, as was true for WWI flying ace, military hero, and ruthless Luftwaffe-creator Hermann Goering, Hitler’s second in command? (Goering had no compunctions about pillaging the assets of the conquered and the colonized, and no interest in solving Germany’s problems by means other than wars of aggression for the purpose of plundering other nation’s resources, especially oil, the essential ingredient for conducting modern warfare.)
3) Is the party you are considering voting for supported by wealthy industrialists and powerful corporations whose main interests are expanding markets and acquiring resources through economic colonialism and imperialism, like Fritz Thyssen and many other Nazi captains of industry? (Thyssen was the wealthy industrialist who was an early financial supporter of the Nazi Party, as was the wealthy anti-Semite Henry Ford. Thyssen’s timely “investments” saved the Nazi party from extinction at one critical point following the 1929 U.S. stock market crash and the resultant worldwide depression.)
4) Is the party you are considering voting for supported by ruthless corporations that benefit from war and military spending, as was the infamous military-industrialist Krupp family and its many factories? (Krupp was the infamous German weapons manufacturer that had made its fortunes by producing the best and most lethal high-grade steel weaponry that the world had ever known, which it then very profitably sold to all sides of whatever war was threatening at the time. Krupp had even been caught fomenting war in order to sell more weapons.)
5) Do the political agendas of the parties discriminate against minorities, or have the intention of unfairly dominating weaker sovereign nations for economic advantage (as did Hitler and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop)?
6) Is there a history of political support for the secret police, torture tactics, and “preventive detention” policies, which were promoted by the likes of the odious Reinhold Heydrich, his boss Heinrich Himmler (who, besides leading the SS and Gestapo, also ran a vicious campaign against abortion rights and homosexual rights), and their infamous party functionaries and bureaucrats who made the concentration camps, prisons, and transportation systems (especially the railroads going to the concentration camps) run smoothly?
7) Is there a history of disregard for human rights like those who refused to effectively deal with justice issues involving hunger, suffering, the treatment of minorities, degradation of the environment, workers’ rights, and healthcare? Is there a disregard for displaced and impoverished people, those often regarded as “untermenschen,” ”vermin,” or “cockroaches,” who, through such demonization tactics, become easy targets for bullying, abuse, arrest, imprisonment, deportation, torture, or other forms of violence, including genocide? (Such was the strategy of the architects of the Holocaust, well-exemplified by obedient government bureaucrats like Adolf Eichmann.)
8) Is the theology of the candidate compatible with the inevitable human slaughter and suicidality that accompanies every war and the preparation for war? What does the candidate regard as the true nature of the god or religion she professes to believe in? Is her god the violent, wrathful god of the war-justifiers, or is her god the unconditionally loving, merciful, forgiving god of the peacemakers? Does the church that he belongs to, if he professes to be Christian, follow and preach the ethical teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, or is the candidate a member of a church that has been compromised into silence about those teachings, as happened in the racist, nationalist, and fascism-compatible “Positive German Christian” church that, in Hitler’s hostile takeover, totally co-opted the already conservative evangelical protestant churches of Germany? (Hitler had hand-picked Ludwig Muller, an inept Nazi military chaplain who was then “elected” to be the new bishop at the national protestant synod conference in September of 1933.)
This list of qualities that I want to find out about in the candidates running for office in my nation, state, county, and municipality could go on and on. Many concerned observers of the political scene have seen alarming trends in the noisiest of the right-wing segments of American politics. Many developments since the conservative Nixon and Reagan years are reminiscent of what happened in fascist Italy, Germany, Spain, and even Japan following World War I. These trends led to a police state totalitarian rule that is best exemplified by Hitler’s Nazi rule. It could happen here. The one thing that American Friendly-Faced Fascism might lack, if it comes to pass in its ugliest form, would be a shrieking, sneering dictator. American fascism will be a slicker, kinder, and gentler form of fascism than was the Nazi form we rightly loathed.
Those of us who are still clinging to a disappearing middle class existence, mesmerized by the smiley-faced misleaders all over the political and propaganda spectra, have been totally unaware of the American form of fascism (racism, militarism, and economic oppression—Martin Luther King’s “triple evils”) that has been experienced for centuries by the impoverished, the homeless, the jobless, the hungry, the displaced, and the discriminated-against members of the First Nation people, the native Americans—who were victims of U.S. genocide—and by the African-Americans who were tortured slaves for the big business of the South that was King Cotton.
In order to implement this voting guide, one should read the extended definition of fascism (see link below) and then apply it to our American politics, commerce, and organized religion. If I suspect that a political, corporate, or religious group is, even inadvertently, embracing some of the traits of fascism in their politics, economics, or theologies, that is a good-enough reason for me to withhold my vote (as well as my financial support) from that entity until I know enough to judge it guiltless.
Perhaps all of us would do well to pre-judge any such suspicious entity guilty until proven innocent. After all, many such non-human, inanimate (and therefore soulless) entities have been recently—and undeservedly—granted the rights, but not the responsibilities, of personhood.
With practice, the above strategy can help voters make more ethical decisions when supporting or opposing certain institutions. The fates of our nation, the planet, and its innocent children (who are going to inherit the mess that the wealthy elite and their corporations have created for them) are at a tipping point right now. Now is no time to go with politics as usual.
For more information about the 14 characteristics of fascism, check out Professor Lawrence Britt’s important article “Fascism Anyone?” originally published in Free Inquiry Magazine Volume 23, Number 2. It can be accessed online at http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=britt_23_2.
Dr. Kohls is a retired physician who writes about peace, justice, religion, war, politics, and mental health issues. He fears that America is gradually descending, through a gradual, rolling coup d’état, into a right-wing, corporate-controlled, racist, xenophobic, militarized police state (i.e., fascism) and wonders if it is too late to prevent it from happening.