Familiar Tendencies

Rachel Maddow was particularly on point the other night, even more so than she regularly is. She was focused on the events in Italy, tying current election results there to what transpired there a hundred years ago, with Benito Mussolini’s arrival and his surprisingly speedy and largely bloodless takeover of the government.

The upshot is that the recently elected far right candidate there is a member of the same party started by Mussolini sympathizers after his unceremonious death and public humiliation, which unfolded in that order. The same sentiments of a far-right authoritarian have reemerged and won the day in Italy, reported Maddow.

Then Rachel went on to speak to her audience and hopefully maybe a few others who just happened to tune in in time to hear her offer an impassioned, insightful commentary on the connection with and reality of what we see happening right now in this country. Beware, she says, of anyone who wants to take away your ability to vote, anyone who minimizes the importance of free and fair elections, because these people want to rule without your having a say. They don’t care about you, they don’t want to work for you. They just want the power.

Which isn’t exactly the way she said it—her version was much more succinct and thought-provoking, and powerful in its own right.

Maddow also interviewed a writer who offered another attention-getting observation: the dysfunction in our current political parties is asymmetrical. With few exceptions, there is no corresponding dalliance with off-the-wall extremism among Democrats. The Republicans largely own and have owned—and expediently embraced—that distinction for the past 70 years.

History doesn’t repeat, as another writer recently reminded, but it does rhyme. It remains to be seen whether or not we as a nation appreciate and grasp the implications of not keeping these ever-present threats at bay. They’re not exactly unprecedented.

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