Why Trump wants you to compare him to Hitler

Because then you’re not calling him a loser

Why Trump wants you to compare him to Hitler

This is a guest post from FrameLab contributor Jason Sattler. Jason is LOLGOP on Twitter and pretty much any other social media platform. His writing has appeared in USA TODAY, Wired.com, the New York Daily News and Alternet.


There was a time when you had an excuse for being confused by Donald Trump.

In 2016, many Americans and nearly everyone in the media seemed genuinely baffled. They couldn’t understand how a celebrity with his name on buildings, who still had his own network TV show (the last new episode of The Apprentice wasn’t aired until February of 2017!), had thrust himself on top of the Republican Party by screaming about rape, walls, and immigrants — the kind of immigrants he wouldn’t marry, the ones who want jobs.

Wasn’t this the party of John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan and other boring, rich white men who knew how to use dog whistles with plausible deniability and find suits that fit?

But George Lakoff wasn’t fooled.

In the summer of 2016, he explained exactly how this blustery birther and walking relic of the 80s had hacked directly into the right-wing mindset. As repulsive and bizarre as Trump seemed to those of us with left-leaning brains, there was a vague, violent and villainous appeal that might titillate just enough “traditional” voters in just the right states.

Understanding Trump” itemized many of the mechanisms that were changing “the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences.” Lakoff explained that the purpose for Trump and his followers was to be “given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Father Morality govern America into the indefinite future.”

A full eight years later, confusion is no defense.

We’re in the indefinite future. A third of the Supreme Court are Trump appointees. And with one more choice appointment, he could set a MAGA majority in place for the rest of our lives. Not to mention the criminal immunity he and his allies will effectively gain should he regain the presidency.

And Trump is within a polling error of it all working, again, after two presidential elections when the polls significantly underestimated his support at the ballot box.

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The most successful part of his new campaign, where he’s basically recycling the hits from his previous attempts at ending democracy, is where he sounds just like Adolf Hitler. Much as several mass shooters have sounded just like Trump.

This is all part of running “for dictator,” as rhetoric professor Jennifer Mercieca calls it.

Why would Trump seek to associate himself with the worst enemy America has ever defeated in war?

If you’re ever in doubt why this evil clown is saying something, you can just consult this chart based on Lakoff’s guidance that once offered a basic taxonomy for Trump’s weaponized Tweets but is still helpful when it comes to almost anything Trump says, posts, or screams.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarianism, seems to think the Hitler stuff is a trial balloon. Trump is seeking to “dehumanize immigrants now so the public will accept your repression of them when you return to office.”

Absolutely. But even that thought gets us talking about exactly what Trump wants on our minds — him in power. He’s preemptively framing himself — as a strongman, an agent of revenge, and the ultimate enforcer of unsustainable hierarchies.

Being a dictator or a wannabe king spits on the grave of anyone who ever fought for the best American values. But it plugs exactly into what the right-wing brain prefers over a democracy where they actually have to win over non-white, non-male, non-straight voters.

And it’s working, at least with the Republican primary voters Trump needs most right now.

You could argue that this hurts his electability in the general election. You may think we should call him Hitler every day and constantly spread videos of him Hitlering. But you can never forget how exposure to this kind of immorality literally changes brains.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign made the mistake of packing the worst of Trump’s bluster into ads assuming it would repulse decent people. Instead, it enthralled his supporters, normalized the rhetoric and infected vulnerable minds.

You could argue the worst societal reactions of the last eight years, including the antisocial reaction the right had to the pandemic and January 6th, were made possible by the bile that Trump spews out incessantly stewing in the minds of hundreds of millions of people.

This is the game he loves to play — contaminate reality with hatreds that unite the right and divide everyone else.

A few weeks after Trump’s “victory” in 2016, George Lakoff laid out his advice for taking on Trump.

“There are certain things that strict fathers cannot be: A Loser, Corrupt, and especially not a Betrayer of Trust,” he wrote.

What is the factual news about Trump today?

Dozens of criminal indictments and multiple civil trials that all revolve around the questions of him being a corrupt sore loser and fraud who betrayed American national security and public trust in the most egregious ways.

When you’re calling Trump a dictator, think about what you’re not calling him.

You’re not calling him a loser who never has and never will win the popular vote. A fraud. A traitor. Instead, you’re repeating his slander of immigrants and propping up his stature. You’re doing him a huge favor.

Basically, we’re getting fooled again.

Because if he can get the people who despise him most to do exactly what he wants, what better display of his power could there possibly be?

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