There are a hundred notes I’ve wanted to write about this awful Trump era, and mostly I’ve restrained myself. Here though is something that has been with me so persistently, such a permanent puzzle in my thoughts, that I feel I must record it.
The analogy with 1930s Germany is always there. How can the leading people in an educated, sophisticated, world-leading country cave in to the ravings of a madman? And here is what has puzzled me. In 1930s Germany, if you took a stand against the Nazis, you might be killed. But if a leading Republican takes a stand against Trump, yes they might lose their job, but they’ll get another one at a high salary. Almost all the top Republicans must know that Trump is evil. Why do so few take a stand?
This mystery has troubled me for years now. It has always seemed to me that if I were in their shoes, I would behave differently; yet surely that just showed a gap in my understanding. But lately I’ve reached a different conclusion. I think I really would behave differently. If I were a Republican Senator, I think I really would take a stand. I’m not alone in this, but it would seem I’m in a minority. My error was in assuming that ultimately people are all the same.
[16 July 2020]
It seems to me you need to be more Bayesian about this one: how likely would you be to take a stand *given* that you are a Republican Senator in the Trump era?