At Politico, Michael Lind says the Trump/Hitler comparisons are getting out of hand:
This is absurd. Granted, Trump’s combination of outsider populism, thinly-veiled appeals to ethnic and racial resentment and tough-guy talk are far more likely to invite comparisons to populist tyrants like Hitler (or Mussolini, another popular Trump analogue) than to, say, Mahatma Gandhi. But the major factor at work here is “Godwin’s Law”—the tongue-in-cheek idea that any online discussion will eventually end up comparing someone or something to Hitler or Nazis. It is a rule illustrated by the long history of Hitler comparisons deployed against both conservative and liberal politicians in America.
The rest of the article is basically a list of examples of liberals and conservatives accusing their political foes of Nazism. The point isn’t a bad one; Hitler comparisons are so commonplace that no one who doesn’t already agree with the comparison in the first place isn’t going to be swayed. But Lind ends on this note:
In the case of Trump, legitimate historical parallels can be drawn.
Meaning he, like the rest of us, recognizes the similarities between Trump and Hitler.
What Lind doesn’t differentiate is why most other comparisons to Hitler and Nazis fall flat while Trump’s don’t: most other comparisons are reactions to perceived acts of authoritarianism, while Trump actually shares a number of the irrational qualities associated with fascism. He’s not literally Hitler, but the comparisons are so common because there is substance to the claim. Do I think Trump is likely to do much of what he promises in the event he’s elected? No, but I also don’t think he’s just saying it to get votes. That’s part of it, but he can’t promise all these awful things to his extremely ornery base, do nothing, and then expect the rage he’s lassoed not to turn on him.
So Michael Lind and anyone else can cry Godwin’s Law and think Nazi comparisons are overblown, but they should remember this: he’s gotten a lot of votes, so there are a lot of people in this country who are openly cheering on something fascistic, or at least enough who can be duped into supporting it.