Regarding “Trump sees power as private property — a habit shared by autocrats throughout the ages” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 19, 2021): On Nov. 8, 1923, a mob of 1,000 disaffected, unemployed nationalists converged in Munich, Germany, and tried to violently overthrow the state government. Adolf Hitler was one of the mob leaders and was sentenced to prison. Less than 10 years later, the duly-elected Reichstag in Berlin granted the ex-con Hitler the powers of a dictator.
Hitler rose to power because of conditions that fostered fascism: income inequality, corruption and anti-Semitism. Hitler and his co-conspirators went to jail then, but the conditions that emboldened them persisted, leaving fertile ground for their rise to power.
We can jail all who supported or participated in our own Beer Hall Putsch on Jan. 6 at the Capitol, but unless we address the underlying issues, a future Hawley-type figure will enter the White House to finish the job that the Trump-incited mob tried to start.
Our nation is deeply polarized, which is to say deeply ill. The way to heal an illness is to address the causes and treat the illness. A year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. My symptoms were inconvenient and annoying, but not miserable. I chose to undergo radiation therapy, which was inconvenient, annoying and miserable. Today I am cancer-free. The cure was worse than the disease, but the disease would have killed me; the therapy didn’t. I humbly submit that we take the lesson of the Beer Hall Putsch and cure the disease.
THOMAS C. GOSS
(Originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 20, 2021)