But then it was too late
“What mattered most was that Donald Trump has contempt for any standards of conduct. (Indeed, he reportedly has taken offense at the accusations against Moore, [Roy Moore for U.S. Senate in Alabama] which remind him of his own treatment.) And no Republican who wishes to stay in office can afford to offend the president, who commands overwhelming support among the party base.”
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine:
Reading Jonathan’s post, a vague association kept pulling at me, something a German professor wrote in his memoir’s: “They thought they were free…”
Jonathan goes on:
“If there was any single event that would cause the Republican elite to openly revolt against the ongoing Trumpification of their party, it would be the nomination of Roy Moore for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Even prior to the allegations of child molestation, Moore had discovered innovative new realms of extremism that had never occurred to even his most ideologically fervent colleagues. He proposed banning Muslims from serving in elected office, called for the criminalization of homosexuality, and defied court rulings and declared his own biblical jurisprudence the sole valid legal authority.
And if that revolt was going to begin anywhere, it would likely be in Utah. The state’s Mormon culture recoiled from Donald Trump’s libidinous boasting, erratic behavior, and displays of extravagant consumption. Between the 2012 and 2016 elections, Utah’s Republican presidential margin underwent an astonishing 28 percent collapse.
Orrin Hatch, who has represented Utah in the Senate since 1977, greeted Moore’s candidacy in this year’s election with skepticism. (“I have trouble with” Moore’s comments on gays and Muslims, he said in October.) Once evidence surfaced of Moore’s alleged predation of teenage girls, Hatch pulled the rip cord. “If the deeply disturbing allegations in the Washington Post are true, Senator Hatch believes that Judge Moore should step aside immediately,” his spokesman declared.
But even in Utah, there were forces at work to make Hatch reconsider. He was facing a potential primary challenge from a Trumpian candidate who had met with party insurrectionist Steve Bannon and Citizens United president David Bossie. In November, Hatch lavished praise on the president, calling him “one of the best I’ve served under.” Trump rewarded Hatch by endorsing him. Hatch then defended Trump’s endorsement of Moore, arguing that he “needs every Republican he can get so he can put his agenda through.”
Hatch’s response to Moore has followed that of his entire party, and the backtracking has usefully laid bare its power dynamics. As recently as a few weeks ago, Republicans were debating whether to shun Moore or, should he win, vote to expel him from the Senate. They have settled on a course of action that had initially been off the map altogether: endorsing their lecherous ayatollah and providing financial support from the Republican National Committee.
They Thought They Were Free
The Germans, 1933-45
But Then It Was Too Late
"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."
"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.’ "Your friend the baker was right," said my colleague. "The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?
"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.
"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.
"Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late."