I'd never been entirely comfortable with the ease with which my end of the political spectrum branded Donald Trump a fascist.
Look Who's Back is a 2015 German movie, based on a 2012 novel, in which Hitler finds himself in 21st century Berlin. I'd expected something like The Producers, a zany romp moderated by vestiges of shame at the German nation's genocidal past. Instead what I got was a zany romp informed by the German nation's genocidal present.
Hitler finds himself healthy and whole, despite a splitting headache and tattered uniform, in a small park at the site of the former Bunker one day in 2015. As he stumbles around the city, he's taken to be a street comic and appears in dozens of selfies, notwithstanding his demands to know what year it is. Soon he's discovered by a documentary filmmaker. Together the fimmaker and the "comedian" tour the country, the latter soaking up some of modern Germany's loathing of "salafist"--i.e, Muslim--immigrants. The filmmaker gets Hitler a guest slot on a reality TV show--starting to sound familiar?--and his blunt talk about the real fears and real frustrations of real Germans propels him to stardom. And more importantly, prominence as a genuine political force.
Ultimately--spoiler here, but see the movie anyway--the filmmaker realizes that his find is not a Hitler impersonator, but Hitler. Confronting him, he says, "You're fooling people with your propaganda!"
Hitler's response is chilling. "In 1933 people were not fooled by propaganda. They voted for a leader who openly disclosed his plans in great clarity. The Germans elected me." As the film ends, Hitler is driven around modern Germany enjoying the adulation of skinheads and the dispossessed and says, "I can work with this."
The parallel is inescapable. As the GOP and the media confront a Trump candidacy, and maybe even a Trump presidency, they fall all over themselves explaining away his malevolent policies as mere suggestions from a guy who shoots from the hip. No such thing. He is openly disclosing his plans in great clarity. If we elect him, we cannot hope to be forgiven the consequences.