History lesson, guys!
A lot of people have been comparing President Trump to Hitler. Godwin’s Law, I know. But hear me out. There’s a little bit more here.
I think the rhetoric makes for an apt comparison (they both have the same type of rhetorical language; Hitler’s was based on Germany actually being a garbage fire when he took power whereas Trump seems to forget that we are actually in a pretty good place) but in my research on fascist leaders and dictatorships, I have found a startling amount of resemblance to the late stage reign of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian Communist leader and eventual President of Romania. (Note: he installed himself as President, and ruled Romania for over 20 years).
The reason I think it’s an apt comparison to make is that Ceaușescu ran Romania with a strong focus on nationalism, police presence, and cult of personality. He outlawed abortion in 1967, made it more difficult to get a divorce, and by the 1980s, due to poor health policies, Romania (despite being very small) had some of the highest rates of pediatric HIV/AIDS. By 1987, he installed “austerity measures” which led to food rationing, electricity blackouts, and the closure of all radio stations. This was because he had debts he needed to repay to other countries.
Frightened by growing anger in his people, he ordered his secret police force, the Securitate (similar to the Stasi), opening fire on a crowd of protesters. He gave a speech later condemning the protesters, stuffing the event with people who were bused in to look like he was popular. (Ring any bells?) This resulted in the entire nation, even the military, turning against him. This led to thousands of street riots over the course of a few weeks. Ceaușescu and his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Elena, were chased out of their own capitol building in Bucharest to the screams of joy of thousands of protestors and student revolutionaries. (Sebastian Stan recently gave an interview for Romanian television in which he described watching the footage of this on YouTube and feeling like “a knife had gone through me.” This shit is really, really sensitive to Romanians, guys.)
Elena and Nicolae were quickly convicted of genocide and executed, the last to be in Romania. Of course, this was part of the Revolutions in the late 1980s, which led to the downfall of Communism in the Soviet bloc.
Romania is now a democratic nation but the scars of Ceaușescu still remain – they have a very, very high child poverty rate.
These dictators, for the most part, do not die safe in bed at a ripe old age. Sometimes they do, of course – Pol Pot and Stalin were two of them. But a majority of the time, they die like this. Run out of town. Executed. Terrified of the beast they’ve awoken. Or, they are cornered like a yowling cat and seek suicide as the way out (like Hitler, and right now, President Trump is acting like he’s in full tilt bunker mode).
Perhaps President Trump should crack open a book and learn that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.