Donald Trump is Hitler.
It’s not that Trump shouldn’t receive criticism for his rhetoric and many of his policy proposals. It’s that Hitler is just so … unoriginal.
Hillary Clinton recently called Putin Hitler. George W. Bush called Saddam Hussein Hitler. Bill Clinton called Slobodan Milosevic Hitler. George H.W. Bush called Saddam Hitler (it’s apparently a family tradition). Reagan called Gaddafi Hitler. And so on.
In fact, President Obama is often called Hitler by his political opponents, following in the footsteps of figures like W. Bush, Reagan, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, and Lyndon Johnson – all called Hitler by detractors.
The problem is: if everybody is Hitler, then nobody is Hitler.
In devising a critique of Trump, how about a little imagination? How about some historical context?
Forget “Hitler,” here are six political leaders Donald Trump “is.”
Boris Johnson | Mayor of London: 2008-2016
Described as a “manic self-promoter” and “self-absorbed sociopath and serial liar,” this messy-haired messiah was, at first, not taken seriously within even his own party, before skyrocketing to prominence with a conveniently ambiguous political ideology steeped in populist and nationalist rhetoric.
As Mayor of London, ‘Beano Boris’ became a hero to large numbers of Britons while at the same time being portrayed by opponents as out-of-touch, incendiary, and bigoted.
This is a man who called President Obama “the part-Kenyan President,” described Hillary Clinton as “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” and wrote a limerick about Turkish President Erdogan in which he accused him of having sex with goats. He has called Africans “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles,” and supported gay marriage by saying “I’m delighted that as of this autumn any young man will be able to take his chum up the Arsenal." He is also often at odds with the mainstream British media, once famously telling a journalist who had written a critical article to “fuck off and die.”
Despite all of this, when Johnson left his position as London Mayor, he had the highest approval rating of any national politician in the country, and may, in the not-too-distant future, become Prime Minister.
Silvio Berlusconi | Prime Minister of Italy: 1994-1995, 2001-2006, 2008-2011
A billionaire best known for his hair transplant, ludicrous fake tan, mistresses, alleged tax fraud, and global business empire in real estate and media, Silvio Berlusconi rose to power as an outsider who promised to cut taxes and finance large infrastructure projects.
Over his long political career, Berlusconi cultivated a persona as a braggadocios buffoon without a filter. He claimed "There is no one on the world stage who can compete with me” and gloated “I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats, beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family.” He mocked President Obama as “suntanned,” spoke of “the superiority of our civilization” compared to Islamic countries, and asserted the Chinese boiled children alive and used to remains to “fertilize the fields.” He insulted the looks of a female political opponent, stating “she looks at herself in the mirror to put her makeup on — and sees herself, her day is already ruined,” and was caught on camera groping and gyrating his hips against a female police officer who was bent over a car writing a ticket.
It is said that ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ Unfortunately, this is often true of being rich, a fact Berlusconi, along with some of his peers, knows all too well.
Qin Shi Huang | Emperor of China: 247 BCE-220 BCE
Donald Trump may claim that he “will build a great wall,” but Qin Shi Huang built The Great Wall. Of course, the first Emperor of China was known as a tremendous builder. In addition to the Great Wall of China he oversaw the creation of the Lingqu Canal, and the unbelievable Terracotta Army, putting millions of people to work (though also, evidently, putting millions who lost their lives working on the projects to death).
Huang would also combat the ‘hoax’ of modern science by burning books and burying scholars alive, as well as work against a ‘rigged’ political system by controlling and humiliating political rivals.
His enormous ego, which caused him to search for the elixir of life so that he might rule forever, did not grant him physical immortality, but his ‘contemptuous contractor’ political style lives on.
Rob Ford | Mayor of Toronto: 2010-2014
Rob Ford is generally remembered as the crack-smoking former-Mayor of North America’s fourth largest city. But he was so much more than that.
Sexist: He opined on a radio show that “Women love money. You give them a couple thousand bucks and they’re happy.” A female mayoral election opponent alleged Ford “grabbed my ass.” He was involved in at least three domestic disputes. In response to accusations of harassment from a female staffer, he said, "[She] said I wanted to eat her pussy. I would never do that, I've got more than enough to eat at home."
Bigoted: He ranted about “fucking minorities.” He said “Oriental people work like dogs” and taunted his cab driver, calling him a “Paki.” In perhaps his most infamous tirade he claimed “Nobody sticks up for people like I do, every fucking kike, nigger, fucking wop, dago, whatever the race. Nobody does. I’m the most racist guy around.” He also called future Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “fag.”
Arrogant: He claimed “I’m the best Mayor this city has ever had,” and "when I go out people treat me like a rock star."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he also hated the media, calling them “pathological liars,” and “maggots.”
And yet, he created the image of an anti-establishment, working-class hero, governing with tax-cut populism and a gladiatorial passion for his city, and for it he was beloved by many Torontonians.
Paul Lepage | Governor of Maine: 2011-present
When it comes to offensive speech, Paul Lepage makes Donald Trump look like an amateur. As Governor, his inflammatory statements have been so egregious that some colleagues have questioned his mental health.
A few of Lepage’s “greatest” hits include:
On the President of the United States: "You're gonna be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying 'Gov. LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’”
On law and order: “What we ought to do is bring the guillotine back, we could have public executions and we could even have which hole it falls in.”
On asylum seekers: “What happens is you get hepatitis C, tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV, the ‘ziki fly,’ all these other foreign type of diseases that find a way to our land,”
On his state’s drug problem: "These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty … these types of guys … they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.”
In a phone message to a political opponent: “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker. You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you.”
Paul Lepage consistently ranks as one of America’s least popular Governors, did not receive the majority of votes in either of his gubernatorial elections, and is one of the most offensive people in the country.
Yet, in 2016, he still holds executive power over one of the United States of America.
Rodrigo Duterte | President of the Philippines: 2016-present
While Donald Trump was embarking on his journey to “Make America Great Again,” Rodrigo ‘The Punisher’ Duterte was seeking to turn the “the sick man of Asia” into “Asia’s rising tiger.”
Like Trump, Duterte ran for President on a platform of ending political corruption, demonizing his country’s perceived enemies, infrastructure investment, job creation, and tax cuts. Also like Trump, he sought to camouflage his rich upbringing and solidify his populist credentials by speaking in vulgarities and insults.
He called both President Obama and the Pope a “son of a whore.” He warned criminals “I'd kill you. I'll dump all of you into Manila Bay." He said he didn’t “give a shit” about human rights, and threatened to “declare martial law.” He told journalists “don’t fuck with me,” and said "Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination.” Responding to a probing question from a reporter he asked “How is your wife’s vagina? Is it smelly? Or not smelly? Give me a report,” and joked about a gang rape, venturing “She was so beautiful. I thought, [I] should have been first,” before writing off such comments as “how men talk.”
What is particularly relevant is not that Duterte is similar to Donald Trump, but rather that they are both similar to people like Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, France’s Marine Le Pen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, and others.
Both historically and currently, Donald Trump is not only not Hitler, he isn’t even that unique.