After sixty years, the Republican plan to build a wealthy white America may finally be collapsing.
The revolution will not be pretty, but we can hope it will play out not with protesters on the streets of D.C., but with elected officials in the buildings.
In Berlin, Germany, on November 5, 1937, Adolf Hitler met with his military and foreign policy leadership in secret to discuss Hitler's future expansionist policies. The Hossbach Memorandum was the summary of that meeting, a note compiled by Colonel Count Friedrich Hossbach.
According to the memorandum, which some say was never written out but only spoken of, Hitler did not want war in 1939 with Britain and France. He wanted small wars of plunder to help support Germany's struggling economy and most important, to achieve the Lebensraum he desired. Lebensraum is the German word for "living space." Hitler had convinced himself—and ultimately his followers—that Germany wasn't big enough to hold the superior race comfortably, especially with all these "others" taking up space. Annexing Czechoslovakia and Austria would serve the immediate purpose until Germany was ready to conquer the world maybe a half decade later. But then came Sudetenland and Poland and World War II was on. Still, the import of the Hossbach Memorandum remains.
Lebensraum—living space. Everybody desires some. We can call it what we want, in a foreign language or English, but we all need room to breathe, some place to call ours. Today in America, the average population density is about 91 per square mile, but that includes the Great Plains and the Mountain West. A more accurate account would be a city like New Britain, Connecticut. Its population density is 5429 per square mile. Contrast that with East Harlem, a section of the Bronx in New York City, whose population density (85% black and Hispanic) is 95,000 per square mile. In 2010 the median income for a household in New Britain, a middle-class city, was $35,357; in East Harlem, just over $20,000. Thirty percent of the population endure lives of poverty, and each citizen has what amounts to a 12 x 12 foot room in which to endure it.
And yet, there's little doubt that the earliest Trump appeal has been to provide white Americans with more Lebensraum, or at least to offer the fear that theirs was being taken from them. The denigration of Mexicans when he announced his presidency, the promise of the wall, the racially motivated hatred for his predecessor, the Muslim ban, the labeling of shithole countries in Africa, the desire for more immigrants from Scandinavia—all these prodded his more suggestible followers, especially those bigots who came aboard fully armed with preconceived bias and prejudice, into believing that (white) America was being pushed out, replaced by people of color—any color but white. These "others" were coming for that living space just as German Jews were threatening the Aryan homeland.
But now, as turns out after a week of rioting and looting, destruction and mayhem—that a 12 x 12 room in the richest country in the world is not enough, that the sixty-year Republican effort to reshape America into the haves and have-nots and eviscerate the middle class—that poor man's Hossbach Memorandum—has turned this country into a tinderbox. And all it took to light it was a virus whose morbidity rate laid out in the clearest possible terms the treatment of the black population of America: though only 13% of Americans are black, they account for 1/3 of the deaths.
This not some preordained genetic failure; it's a well-defined and thoroughly executed political one. Crowded living quarters, little health care, lower salaries, less access to healthful foods (and less money to buy them) have fused into an anger and resentment that no vile tweets of false bravado from an ineffectual president can quell.
Nobody recognizes a coward more quickly than a person with courage, and Trump's cowardice and futility are on full display for Americans who have, in the face of threats and bodily harm, taken to the streets. The protesters see the weakness; so do the police who are suffering from the recklessness of some of their own. This is not a situation where Trump's father can grease a doctor's palms and have his son avoid Vietnam. Money won't make this better. This war is being fought on the home front—on the street where he lives—and though I can readily envision other presidents going out among the mob and speaking to the members, I can envision Trump only cowering in a room with a cell phone full of suddenly useless vitriol.
The promises of more living space for Trump's white friends, and the hope that ill-treated minorities "would make do" in this new Republican society have ended. It took a world war and hundreds of millions dead to end Hitler's Lebensraum, but it took only a microbe and a senseless murder to bring the MAGA sham to an end.