Following catastrophic war and amid the turmoil of the 1920s and the Depression that followed, Europeans became obsessed with their perceived decline, humiliation, and victimhood. They turned for comfort to the triumphs of ancient Rome or to myths of Aryan glory, and blamed their problems on liberals and minorities. They countered the supposed weaknesses of democracy with political sleight of hand and violence against perceived enemies. Populists made common cause with traditional elites, who wrongly thought they could rein in their unruly allies. The goals of their alliance were order, unity, and ethnic purity, along with the restoration of supposed past greatness.
In America today we have not yet descended into European-style fascism and racism, but the parallels are chilling. Our president is a wannabe fascist in love with authoritarian rulers, and he uses racism and other hatreds to divide us.
I have voted in 13 presidential elections, sometimes for Republicans, such as Ronald Reagan and John McCain. I have never demonized those who disagree with me, but times have changed. Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, William Barr, and Mitch McConnell will try to crush our democracy, if they must, to retain power.
A fair election could begin our healing, but this will require diligence from voters, public officials, and the press. Be vigilant and vote.