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Hannah Arendt

Ever hear of her?  She lead an interesting career in Germany – where she was born in 1908 and in the US where she died in 1975.  She made a lot of very cogent observations of politics as well as political parties.  Before she decided that self preservation dictated that she had better leave Germany she made the observation that “a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.”

a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself

What was happening?  The German government of the 1920s and 1930s was trying to survive in spite of the horrendous surrender terms presented to them by the Allies to end World War I.  They had to pay huge reparations which they were clearly incapable of doing.  They knew they couldn’t do it.  The allies knew they couldn’t do it.

But never fear, there was one political party which claimed to have all the answers.  They never were a majority, but they had just enough members in the German government to sabotage any move it might make.  This willful minority absolutely tied up the country.  Eventually, the President of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg asked the leader of the National Socialists to see if he could form a government.  Indeed, Mr. Hitler could.  Germany had a constitution but that didn’t stop the Nazis from arresting anyone or any political party which got in their way.  The constitution meant nothing.  The people were apathetic, so eventually, the Nazis did away with their constitution.  No one noticed. No one cared.  The rest is history.

80 MILLION lives later, the people of Germany decided that possibly choosing the Nazis to run their government was not a good national decision.

Once more we are seeing a disciplined minority using the instruments of democracy to undermine it.  Our confidence in our institutions is at an all time low.  They are telling us, “see, we told you, government doesn’t work”.  Well, they ought to know.  They are the ones that are making it fail.

Have they suggested an alternative? Is there an alternative?  One of the leaders of their party has suggested that goal number one is the failure of the president.  What kind of crazy attitude is that?

If the president fails, we fail.

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