It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s worst enemy is Donald Trump and nothing proves that point more strongly than a recent interview the Republican nominee gave to Bloomberg in which he inextricably linked himself with Adolf Hitler. As screw ups go, that’s a pretty big one.
While speaking with Bloomberg’s Joshua Green, Trump laid out his bold new vision for the Republican Party now that he effectively owns it. First, he said he would purge the party of the “Establishment” and replace it with like-minded Trump acolytes. Doing so would allow him to fundamentally transform the GOP and make it something new.
Five, 10 years from now — different party,” Trump said. “You’re going to have a worker’s party.”
“A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry,” he added. “What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it’s a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it” at all.
While surely catnip for his fans, some of his neo-Nazi adherents (and he has a lot of them) may have picked up on something more significant, as would any historian focusing on 20th century German fascism. Trump’s “worker’s party” sounds an awful lot like the “German Worker’s Party” – the political predecessor to the Nazis. Hitler, in fact, was initially ordered to secretly infiltrate the GWP and spy on them for the government. Instead, he became one of its adherence after being turned on by its vicious anti-Semitism and nationalistic message.
The GWP liked Hitler as well:
After the speech, Hitler began to leave when a man rose up and spoke in favor of the German state of Bavaria breaking away from Germany and forming a new South German nation with Austria.
This enraged Hitler and he spoke out forcefully against the man for the next fifteen minutes uninterrupted, to the astonishment of everyone. One of the founders of the German Workers’ Party, Anton Drexler, reportedly whispered: “He’s got the gift of the gab. We could use him.”
After Hitler’s outburst ended, Drexler hurried over to Hitler and gave him a forty-page pamphlet entitled: “My Political Awakening.” He urged Hitler to read it and also invited Hitler to come back again.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Trump, who reportedly once kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches on his bedside table, may not want to be the next Hitler exactly, but he is clearly a man attracted to power in a way a young Adolf Hitler could sympathize with. He may have even lifted the phrase “worker’s party” from some of those very speeches without realizing he had done so.
The staunch nationalist appeal of Trump’s platform would also be familiar to the Nazis; however, unlike the deeply depressed German economy after World War I, Trump’s insistence that America “never wins anymore” and he alone is needed to make it “Great Again” is a convenient fantasy perpetuated by a right-wing media that only rarely bothers to check in with the real world.
Given the Nazi origins of Trump’s “worker’s party” line, it’s doubtful that the phrase will catch on. Instead, Trump gave yet one more reason for fringe right-wing extremist groups to flock to his campaign in the belief, true or not, that Trump represents their point of view. It would be easy to chalk it up to a gaffe if the fit wasn’t so snug.
Featured image via Ralph Freso/Getty Images