“From the leading constitutional lawyer who has sued every president since LBJ, a masterful explication of the ‘pillars of our democracy’.”
By Steven Rosenfeld
Independent Media Institute (8/9/19)
A new book by one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers powerfully describes how America’s constitutional checks and balances are being pushed to the brink by a president who is consciously following Adolf Hitler’s extremist propaganda and policy template from the early 1930s—when the Nazis took power in Germany.
In When at Times the Mob Is Swayed: A Citizen’s Guide to Defending Our Republic, Burt Neuborne mostly focuses on how America’s constitutional foundation in 2019—an unrepresentative Congress, the Electoral College and a right-wing Supreme Court majority—is not positioned to withstand Trump’s extreme polarization and GOP power grabs. However, its second chapter, “Why the Sudden Concern About Fixing the Brakes?,” extensively details Trump’s mimicry of Hitler’s pre-war rhetoric and strategies.
“The Nazis did not overthrow the Weimar Republic. It fell into their hands as the fruit of Hitler’s satanic ability to mesmerize enough Germans to trade their birthright for a pottage of scapegoating, short-term economic gain, xenophobia, and racism. It could happen here.”
Neuborne doesn’t make this comparison lightly. His 55-year career began by challenging the constitutionality of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He became the ACLU’s national legal director in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. He was founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in the 1990s. He has been part of more than 200 Supreme Court cases and Holocaust reparation litigation.
“Why does an ignorant, narcissistic buffoon like Trump trigger such anxiety? Why do so many Americans feel it existentially (not just politically) important to resist our forty-fifth president?” he writes. “Partly it’s just aesthetics. Trump is such a coarse and appalling man that it’s hard to stomach his presence in Abraham Lincoln’s house. But that’s not enough to explain the intensity of my dread. LBJ was coarse. Gerald Ford and George W. Bush were dumb as rocks. Richard Nixon was an anti-Semite. Bill Clinton’s mistreatment of women dishonored his office. Ronald Reagan was a dangerous ideologue. I opposed each of them when they appeared to exceed their constitutional powers. But I never felt a sense of existential dread. I never sensed that the very existence of a tolerant democracy was in play.”
A younger Trump, according to his first wife’s divorce filings, kept and studied a book translating and annotating Adolf Hitler’s pre-World War II speeches in a locked bedside cabinet, Neuborne noted. The English edition of My New Order, published in 1941, also had analyses of the speeches’ impact on his era’s press and politics. “Ugly and appalling as they are, those speeches are masterpieces of demagogic manipulation,” Neuborne says. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019.Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )