In his 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism, historian Robert Paxton discusses the hubris of the conservative and Marxist responses to the rise of the Nazis (128).
On the traditional conservatives:
When Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, his conservative allies, headed by Deputy Chancellor Franz von Papen, along with those conservative and nationalist leaders who supported von Papen’s Hitler experiment, expected to manage the untrained new head of government without difficulty. They were confident that their university degrees, experience in public affairs, and worldly polish would give them easy superiority over the uncouth Nazis. Chancellor Hitler would spellbind the crowds, they imagined, while Deputy Chancellor von Papen ran the state.”
It wasn’t so then. And in 2017, Congressional Republicans are disappointed by Trump’s unwillingness to become “presidential” and his constant interference with the “Republican agenda.” Good luck Paul Ryan.
On the Marxists:
Hitler’s conservative allies were not the only ones to suppose that Nazism was a flash in the pan. The Communist International was certain that the German swing to the Right under Hitler would produce a counterswing to the Left as soon as German workers understood that democracy was an illusion and turned away from the reformist social democrats.
It wasn’t so then. And in 2017, Congressional Democrats are still dreaming of retaking the House in 2018 and the Senate by 2020. Out-of-power Berniecrats, on the other hand, are still dreaming of shifting the Democratic Party away from neoliberalism and back towards a progressive populism. Good luck to both of you.
The authoritarianism of Trumpism isn’t something that his supporters are likely to recognize and then reject; it was part of what attracted many of them to start with. Even his inability to reindustrialize America and his outright attacks on labor probably won’t be enough to diminish his core support. Afterall, it doesn’t look like labor was the issue that brought him to power; it was race and misogyny. So a progressive populism is unlike to draw his supporters to the Democratic Party.
Some Republicans rejected either Trumps authoritarianism or his protectionism and fake anti-interventionism and voted instead for other candidates. I haven’t seen any reason to think there will be a surge of further defections in 2018 and 2020. I suspect Republicans will continue to attach themselves to Trump and Trumpism, unless something unignorably treasonous comes out of the Russia investigations. Otherwise, Trump will continue to run the show and Democrats will be the minority party.