When you grow up Jewish, you are exposed at a very young age to the phenomenon of anti-semitism and its extreme manifestation in the Holocaust. I spent a lot of time as a little kid wondering how something like that could happen. How could Hitler ever rise to power? How could a nation embrace such an angry, authoritarian leader with silly hair whose two main goals in life were 1) taking over the world and 2) ridding it of all Jews? It has always seemed preposterous… until now.
Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric, blatant chauvinism, mean bullying, and open admiration of authoritarian rulers are more than just hints of what’s to come if he is elected. He fights dirty and lacks common decency and diplomacy. In fact, he’s proud of it. I’m not talking about political correctness — I’m talking about the basic level of decency that greases the wheels of social interaction: courtesy, professionalism, and respect (to borrow from the NYPD’s long-standing motto).
Without this level of decency, our civilization will fall further into the kind of ugly, aggressive hostility that we have come to associate with this election. I have become obsessed with opposing Trump because, throughout my short-ish life, I’ve asked myself why no one stopped Hitler on his way up.
Trump is my Hitler.
Say what you will about Hillary, but she is decent. She upholds social norms, she comports herself with civility and diplomacy even when bullies are screaming in her face. As the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, our president is more than a list of policies. They set the tone of our national character. They represent us to the rest of the world — and as our world gets smaller and smaller, this is ever more important.
We’ve seen the worst that human beings are capable of. We’ve seen what happens when leaders abandon common decency in favor of rage and hate. Through the lens of history, the Holocaust happened yesterday, the civil rights movement was this morning, so we are not as out of the woods as we might have thought.
Let’s not tempt fate. Let’s vote for decency, diplomacy and democracy. Let’s stop Trump so that the children of the future don’t have to ask how such a man ever came to power. This is our moment. It’s on us.
A version of this post originally appeared on Medium.