Yesterday (Nov. 9), the world lived out a shock victory by Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election.
Ironically, Trump’s win also fell on the anniversary of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.
Trump has been a controversial figure throughout his election campaign. He has insulted women, Muslims, war veterans, and even proposed the mass deportation of immigrants from the U.S.
And yup, we’ll just have to wait and see if he materialises his infamous plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants.
Among his critics, some have already compared him to the likes of evil dictators, such as Adolf Hitler.
Certainly, it’s too far-out, and also too soon, to relate him to one of history’s most evil leaders, especially when he hasn’t even started his term in office. (Give chance lah, right anot).
After all, like most politicians, he might not necessarily translate his words into actions. Case in point: former President George H. W. Bush infamously proclaimed “Read my lips: no new taxes“, when he accepted the Republican party’s nomination in 1988. Guess what happened when he actually became the U.S. president? He was lying through his teeth.
But we shouldn’t ignore the lessons of the past
In an article titled History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump on Medium, academic Tobias Stone argues that events in history and the present are a cycle. Similar events such as wars and destruction in the past and present happen again and again, due to repetitions in people’s behaviour. Unfortunately, however, people do not realise it simply because they don’t see it:
“My point is that this is a cycle. It happens again and again, but as most people only have a 50–100 year historical perspective they don’t see that it’s happening again. As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit, and Trump are dismissed now.
Then after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.”
He believes Trump is taking America down the road that evil leaders of the past, such as Hitler, have trodden before, and the outcome will be similar:
“Trump is doing this in America. Those of us with some oversight from history can see it happening… Trump says he will Make America Great Again, when in fact America is currently great, according to pretty well any statistics. He is using passion, anger, and rhetoric in the same way all his predecessors did — a charismatic narcissist who feeds on the crowd to become ever stronger, creating a cult around himself. You can blame society, politicians, the media, for America getting to the point that it’s ready for Trump, but the bigger historical picture is that history generally plays out the same way each time someone like him becomes the boss.”
While as always, it is difficult to make predictions of the future, there is no denying that many valuable lessons can be learnt from the past to prevent upcoming catastrophes.
How Trump will turn out to be as U.S. President, only time will tell.
With Uber and Grab disrupting the taxi industry, Brexit disrupting Europe, Duterte of the Philippines disrupting drug abusers, China disrupting ASEAN and the South China Sea, let’s all hope for the best that Trump will not disrupt the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Top photo from here