Comparisons to Hitler are too common in our political discussions as assertions that, for example, President Obama's health care policy is comparable to Nazism, are ridiculous. However, in this particular case comparisons are appropriate. Worley's ideas regarding gays and lesbians are not similar to Hitler's -- they are the same as Hitler's. The idea of putting gays and lesbians into concentration camps and killing them is not something out of Worley's distorted imagination, but is something that actually happened during World War II as gays and lesbians were rounded up along with Jews and others and sent to death camps.
The Republican primary has demonstrated that the far right is not as powerful as once thought. Predictions that Romney could not survive the deep south because of his views on social issues or the particular brand of Christianity he practices are going to be proven wrong in the coming weeks. Four years ago, John McCain was cowed by the activists in his party into selecting a running mate who while keeping the right wing happy was unable to appeal to independents and those in the political center.
Since 1989, most authoritarian leaders have probably thought that the consequences for blithely killing hundreds of demonstrators in the main square of the capital, including being cut off from foreign assistance, facing massive civil unrest facilitated by better communication technology, trade sanctions or foreign intervention outweigh the short term gains those actions would bring. The Syrian government is currently challenging this received wisdom of the last two decades. Ironically, because Syria is a much smaller, less powerful and more ordinary country than China what happens there may be more important for other countries than what happened in China 22 years ago. Therefore, if the al-Assad regime remains in power after killing and torturing hundreds of its own people, it is likely that will set a more powerful precedent than the Chinese government set in 1989.
History has shown both that revolutions are rare and not the inevitable outcome of large, even massive street demonstrations, and that when most authoritarian regimes are overthrown, they are not replaced by democracies. Moreover, while some democracies, notably those in countries of Eastern Europe like Poland or the Czech Republic as well as the Baltic states arise out of events that could be described as revolutions, most democracies take a very long time to evolve. The American democratic revolution, for example, lasted roughly two centuries beginning with the American Revolution in 1776 which brought independence, followed a few years later by the creation and approval of the U.S. Constitution, and ending when apartheid in the American south was brought to an end with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965. Some other democracies, Germany and Japan, for example, grew out of military defeat, occupation and enormous commitment of resources from other democratic countries.
Freedom House’s finding should not come as a surprise to anybody who even casually consumes international news. Fraudulent election in Belarus, Iraq and Afghanistan being, at best, stuck in some kind of post-conflict semi-democratic morass, and the stubborn persistency of authoritarian regimes from Pyongyang to Havana all support these findings. Democracy is frequently spoken about in waves, with the third wave beginning in southern Europe in the 1970s. For the last few years, however, democracy has been in something of a trough with few advances or breakthroughs and a paucity of hope.
Nonetheless, it remains important to look at the bill itself rather than the debate and news stories surrounding its passage. The biggest reason health care reform is so urgent is because there are more than 40 million Americans without health care today. For these people, a serious injury or illness can result not just in not receiving timely and adequate health care, but in devastating financial burdens as well. People without health insurance, of course, always had the option of buying health insurance from a private insurance company, but telling somebody without a lot of money to spend thousands of dollars on health insurance was something of a "let them eat cake" solution to the problem. The uninsured tended to be unemployed or concentrated in low paying jobs and could scarcely afford this option.
The Cold War was the organizing principle of American foreign policy, and had a strong influence on domestic policy as well, for almost half a century. Today, less than two decades after its end, the Cold War is poorly remembered. The equivalence which some have suggested between the threat of Jihadist terror and that represented by the USSR, and the almost ubiquitous comparisons between Saddam Hussein and Stalin from those trying to drum up support for the Iraq war are just some examples of this. These comparisons are not so much wildly inaccurate, Jihadist terror represents a real threat to the U.S., and Hussein was much worse than your garden variety dictator, but they betray an intellectual laziness and failure to understand the true nature, and, for quite a long time, power of the Soviet regime.
The Republican campaign has collapsed among a sordid and backward looking combination of incompetence, red-baiting that feels bizarrely anachronistic and almost quaint, the growing acceptance among many in the Republican establishment that Sarah Palin is about as qualified to be president as I am to play first base for the Yankees, an adolescent, but deeply disturbing attempt to fake a racially charged attack on a McCain supporter, attempts to suggest that the Democratic president is a supporter of terrorism essentially because he has an unusual name and through ugly anti-Muslim bigotry. Lastly, the dreaded October surprise that many Democrats feared would turn this election upside down and defeat Obama turned out to be a shopping spree in which Republican handlers bought Sarah Palin $150,000 worth of clothes and makeup.