Often a tyrant can easily come to power in a poor, uneducated country, but that was not the case in Germany.
Germany was once one of the more cultured countries in Europe. Rich people sent their children to many of the German universities for a proper education. One wonders how a country like that can be taken over by a madman such as Adolf Hitler proved to be. Joseph Goebbels was his Minister of Propaganda, and between the two, they fed the country a line of ego-inflating self interest. They preached that true Germans were a superior Aryan race, destined to rule the world. He was quite the pumper-upper. It's nice to be told how wonderful we are, but dangerous when we believe too much of it.
We understand that only about 10 percent of the population belonged to Hitler's Nazi party. Most people were like us, too busy with their own lives to get involved in the politics of the day. Once Hitler had enough control to forcefully keep the populace in line, it didn't matter whether a majority backed him or not. They couldn't afford to question anything, lest his Storm Troopers would come for them. Millions of decent, men women and children around the world were brutally murdered, or killed in the battle, to save the world from the unrestrained, self interest of one unchained ego.
Unfortunately, the pilot light that lit the flame of Hitler's Nazism still burns in the hearts of self-seeking egos who would rather rule you than enjoy your companionship. This has always been the case. They continually spring up like dandelions in the lawn. Don't think it can't happen here; they will grow in anyone's lawn. It's too bad they cannot be as easily uprooted and put out of commission as dandelions. That is why our founders set up a system of government with three separate branches of equal power, so that no one group could easily take over and rule unrestricted. The world's humanity wants to live in a country of opportunity like we have, but the tyrants of the world, for that very reason would like to destroy us, as we set what they consider a bad example that stirs unrest in their otherwise easily controlled populace.
Power-hungry types don't necessarily start out that way. They may start out with modest expectations, like a neophyte at a dice table in Vegas, but when they find themselves on a roll, they begin to think they are invincible, and bet way over their head. Then watch out!
President Richard Nixon seemed to be a president who spent more of his energy on trying to destroy what he perceived to be his enemies, than attend to the business of his office. When we have a leader who resents the fact that there are restrictions on his power; when he talks one way and acts in another way, he scares me.
A president should not see the other side of the aisle as enemies, but only loyal opposition. House Speaker Everett Dirkson years ago used those two words, "loyal opposition" to refer to his opposing party. It was a phrase that did not treat the opposition as worthless, but simply as loyal Americans with other ideas. His purpose was obviously to accomplish, not divide. Attempts to destroy "the other party," are really attempts to wipe out our democratic government. Only tyrants have one party government.
The face of evil is runaway self interest. Robbers, rapists, murderers, thieves, and yes tyrants, all suffer from runaway self interest. No leader can serve a population in its best interests, if he doesn't see those members of the populace as people like himself. Only a tyrant cannot understand or tolerate anyone who does not agree with him. A person who sets himself apart from the people is not fit to serve them. Unfortunately, sometimes the urge to control others burns the brightest in the breast where it least deserves to grow. May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to email@example.com