July 2nd, 2010

A follow up to my piece from earlier today about the difference between an electoral referendum and a choice. This one uses a popular historical analogy to show what can happen when a disgruntled electorate votes someone out without paying adequate attention to whom they’re voting in.

“During 1921 and 1922, the Nazi Party grew significantly, partly through Hitler’s oratorical skills, partly through the SA’s appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany’s economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent.”

The Right loves

To invoke Hitler,

So here’s my contribution,

In the same vein, but littler.

“The Nazis’ strongest appeal was to the lower middle-class – farmers, public servants, teachers, small businessmen – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s and who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class were receptive to Hitler’s anti-Semitism, since they blamed Jewish big business for their economic problems.”

The story takes place in the 1930s

In a place called Weimar

And shows what can happen

When a referendum goes too far.

“Despite these strengths, the Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930 the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The SPD and the KPD parties were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution; this gave the Nazis their opportunity, and Hitler’s message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks resonated with wide sections of the electorate.”

Germany was mired in economic depression,

And had suffered from hyper-inflation.

Voters wanted to express their discontent

Towards the Weimar Administration.

“The inability of the democratic parties to form a united front, the self-imposed isolation of the KPD and the continued decline of the economy all played into Hitler’s hands. He now came to be seen as de facto leader of the opposition, and donations poured into the Nazi Party’s coffers.”

Firebrand ideologues sought scapegoats

And preached a simple “solution,”

Re-inventing history

To support their “peaceful” revolution.

“During 1931 and into 1932, Germany’s political crisis deepened. In March 1932 Hitler ran for President against the incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg, polling 30.1% in the first round and 36.8% in the second against Hindenburg’s 49 and 53%.

The Nazis successfully made elections

Referenda rather than choices,

Seeking to distract voters

From dissenting voices.

“By [1932], the SA had 400,000 members and its running street battles with the SPD and KPD paramilitaries (who also fought each other) reduced some German cities to combat zones. Paradoxically, although the Nazis were among the main instigators of this disorder, part of Hitler’s appeal to a frightened and demoralized middle class was his promise to restore law and order.”

They first gained a toehold,

Then obstructed and attacked,

Increasing voters tendency

To negatively react.

“Overt anti-Semitism was played down in official Nazi rhetoric, but was never far from the surface. Germans voted for Hitler primarily because of his promises to revive the economy (by unspecified means), to restore German greatness and overturn the Treaty of Versailles, and to save Germany from communism.”

The Nazi strategy worked,

And Weimar was defeated.

Now eighty years later,

Will history be repeated?


Speaking of history repeating itself, here’s Glenn Beck’s April 2009 “Destined to Repeat” special about the rise of fascism in inter-war Europe. Glenn equates that to the rise of “Progressivism” (his latest term-of-contempt for all things liberal). When discussing Mussolini (who one of the commentators says was a “sex symbol”), Glenn talks about how when times are tough and people want a savior, it’s easy for the public to be convinced to support a good looking leader who communicates well and “not really listen to what they’re doing.” (that’s at the beginning of part 2). I agree completely with what Glenn is saying and do believe we’re at risk of that in the United States. But the threat, Glenn, comes not from the Left, but from the Right…

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3 Responses to “Weimar”

  1. Flyer0731 Says:

    Yes, there is no doubt that depression and hyper-inflation paved the way for the Nazi victory in Germany. And there’s no doubt that the Nazi’s violent demonstrations, marches and general thuggisness beat out the less dramatic Weimar government (No Drama Weimah).
    Let’s hope this particular history and another victory of the far far right doesn’t repeat.

  2. Newsericks Says:

    No Drama Obama
    No Drama Weimah

    Very clever connection!

  3. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Referendum or Choice? Says:

    […] electorate votes someone out without paying adequate attention to whom they’re voting in, Weimar. “If we allow a Republican Party that took a $237 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.3 […]

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