Guest Opinion: Was Jan. 6, America's Beer Hall Putsch? – Bucks County Courier Times
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed coup d’état by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler and German General Erich Ludendorff. It was staged in Munich in November of 1923, a full 10 years before Hitler became chancellor of Germany.
One does not have to stretch one’s imagination to see the similarities between the Jan. 6 insurrection in our nation’s U.S. Capitol building and this event almost a century ago. In both cases, time is on the side of the forces wishing to destroy democracy and the rule of law.
Hitler used the 10 years from the Beer Hall Putsch to his chancellorship to write his manifesto Mein Kampf and build his loyal power base. In modern America, Trump and his followers are using time to weaken the guard rails of democracy in states like Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere and to flagrantly disobey legal subpoenas.
The Weimar Government of Germany was ineffective in part due to the struggles between the Nazis on the far right and the communists on the far left and the lack of a strong centrist party. This led to gridlock in the Reichstag and frustration in the German populace.
In modern America, we see a similar phenomenon with politicians putting party over country, more interested in maintaining their power than moving our country forward. Like Germany, this inaction has led to frustration and cynicism among the electorate concerning our democratic institutions.
The functioning of democracy at its best, is difficult to observe because of its seeming inefficiencies. This inefficiency, which was intentionally built into the system by our founders, is made more difficult to understand because of the demands for quick solutions made by today’s 24-hour news cycle and social media.
Adding to this instability is the presence in both Weimar Germany and today’s America of demagogic personalities repeating lies over and over and over until obvious truths and proven facts come into question.
This is a technique used by every dictator or dictator-wannabe in history. Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler used “big lies” not only to fire up their base of support but to delegitimize the very electoral system used to choose leaders.
When a large portion of an already-cynical populace no longer trusts the electoral process, the underpinning of our democracy is gone. Add to this, the attack on our judiciary, and we have a recipe for a repetition of 1933 Germany in America today.
History never repeats itself perfectly but the similarities between Weimar Germany and America today are chilling.
Hitler became Chancellor of Germany legally because the 1933 Enabling Act. Many German leaders at the time felt that he could be controlled. They were wrong as were the many Republican politicians who thought they could control Donald Trump.
This tragedy continued after the Jan. 6 coup d’état when we see only two Republican politicians, Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, willing to call a coup and coup and hold our modern-day demagogue accountable.
One can’t help but notice the groveling to get back in Trump’s good graces by Republicans like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Kevin McCarthy and Chuck Grassley. This proves that the “Age of Trump” is still with us and a serious threat to our democracy.
Finally, this reminds me of our own Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. As a constituent, I would sure like to know how he feels about this ongoing attempt to destroy American democracy.
Michael Grothman is a resident of Newtown.