MSNBC Cites Hitler, Mussolini To Warn GOP is Threatening Democracy

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Politico White House editor Sam Stein stepped in to guest host MSNBC’s Saturday installment of Velshi where he asked what he thought was a profound question: what is “closest historical parallel to the moment.. that we are in right now with our democracy?” The answer he got back from Prof. Ruth Ben-Ghiat was to analogize the current situation to the raise of Hitler and Mussolini.

Before that there were more outrageous analogies to be made as Stein also welcomed Vox’s Zack Beauchamp of Gaza-West Bank Bridge.

After reading quoting a recent Beauchamp article that claimed radicals have taken over the GOP, Stein wondered, “Alright, Zack, what’s changed? Why do you believe the Republican Party is no longer capable of policing itself essentially?”

Beauchamp gave a long-winded answer that claimed, “across time and space in liberal democracies, there’s a consistent element of the population and intellectual vanguard that believes very firmly that the idea of equality of democracy is a mistake.”

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These groups have historically included, “slave holders, the Ku Klux Klan, of—of– the John Birch Society, George Wallace’s presidential run. Beauchamp claimed that these type of fringe elements are now part of the conservative mainstream:

the conservative movement emerged after World War II as a coherent entity, is it attempted to align itself with these radicals on the theory that it could contain them and bring them into the political coalition, harness their incredibly, sort of, strong feelings and beliefs and turn them into votes for basically pretty normal tax cuts and anti-abortion politics, and the kind of things that really the things that animate mainstream conservatives. And this worked for a little bit, what happened is that over time, slowly, and ultimately culminating in Donald Trump the radicals started to influence the mainstream conservatives, not the other way around.

After Beauchamp finished his ramblings, Stein returned to ask, “I don’t want to turn this into a college PoliSci course, but we have a professor here. Ruth, do you—do you– agree with the synopsis? And then as a follow, if you do agree with it, I’m wondering as someone who has studied this stuff, one of the closest historical parallel to the moment we are riding, that we are in right now with our democracy?” 

Ben-Ghiat would not have been invited on the show if she disagreed, but she still managed to set the record for the quickest time to reductio ad Hitlerum, “So, I do agree and in fact, my book is about all these case studies all over the world of when conservatives, like, starting with Mussolini and Hitler, conservatives brought these extremists and their militias into power thinking they could control them and ally with them and then the logic of authoritarianism is increasing radicalization.”

She would declare the GOP’s supposed radicalization can be seen in “the while RINO phenomenon where moderates have to be pushed out” which is odd considering all the hate MSNBC directs towards Democratic moderates.

This segment was sponsored by AT&T.

Here is a transcript for the July 16 show:

MSNBC Velshi

7/16/2022

8:30 AM ET

SAM STEIN: Zack, let’s start with you. In your new piece that you write, quote, “what America faces now is a conservatism unbounded. While the movement of the past regularly partnered with the radical right, even shared some of its beliefs, it also would on occasion police it. Today’s conservatism has jettisoned that modicum of caution. It’s a conservatism that isn’t conservative, but downright revolutionary and having had a taste of victory, there is no sign that the Republican Party is willing or even capable of reimposing the limits that once made it safe for democratic politics.”

Alright, Zack, what’s changed? Why do you believe the Republican Party is no longer capable of policing itself essentially? 

ZACK BEAUCHAMP: So, it’s important to understand the underlying conflict here, the distinction between conservatives and the radical right. So, basically, across time and space in liberal democracies, there’s a consistent element of the population and intellectual vanguard that believes very firmly that the idea of equality of democracy is a mistake. 

That the notion that hierarchies should be upended politically and everyone should have an equal say in government and certain groups should not be more represented than others. That strikes them as a profound rejection of what politics should be. 

We had this faction throughout the United States. It’s the ideology of slave holders, the Ku Klux Klan, of—of– the John Birch Society, George Wallace’s presidential run, but what had happened, at least, as, sort of, as the conservative movement emerged after World War II as a coherent entity, is it attempted to align itself with these radicals on the theory that it could contain them and bring them into the political coalition, harness their incredibly, sort of, strong feelings and beliefs and turn them into votes for basically pretty normal tax cuts and anti-abortion politics, and the kind of things that really the things that animate mainstream conservatives. 

And this worked for a little bit, what happened is that over time, slowly, and ultimately culminating in Donald Trump the radicals started to influence the mainstream conservatives, not the other way around.

It wasn’t the conservatives controlling the radicals. It was the radicals whose ideas based on had their shared hatred for liberalism and sort of the mainstream of American political society, they gradually started to resemble each other to the point where the mainstream right was willing to fully capitulate to the radical right if it meant gaining political power. 

STEIN: I don’t want to turn this into a college PoliSci course, but we have a professor here. Ruth, do you—do you– agree with the synopsis? And then as a follow, if you do agree with it, I’m wondering as someone who has studied this stuff, one of the closest historical parallel to the moment we are riding, that we are in right now with our democracy? 

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: So, I do agree and in fact, my book is about all these case studies all over the world of when conservatives, like, starting with Mussolini and Hitler, conservatives brought these extremists and their militias into power thinking they could control them and ally with them and then the logic of authoritarianism is increasing radicalization. And really we’re going to have to find a new language because conservative no longer fits a party that perpetrated a coup and would do it again tomorrow because the GOP—the GOP– is unrepentant and also it’s very important to—to– know that the GOP is now co-mingling and fusing at local and state level with—with– extremists. There one-in-five local and state GOP officials has sympathies or affiliations with—with– radical groups. 

And—and– that’s why we also see the logic of the party eating its own as it becomes the far-right extremist party. The whole RINO phenomenon where moderates have to be pushed out. So—so– this has happened before in history. Also when there’ve been military coups. It’s–it’s happened whenever you have far-right authoritarians or get to power. 

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