The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for average people to imagine they can control and use it
We often repeat the misattributed quote that "for evil to triumph, it is only necessary that good men do nothing." We also often cite father Niemoeller's poem about how "First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a socialist... Then they came for the Jews ... Then they came for me."
These lines remind us to resist the forces of evil, and to do it early. And we definitely should.
But the real thing that enables the triumph of evil is not simply the lack of opposition by good people. The fascists did not rise in Germany and Italy because the left didn't protest enough. The problem was that the average people -- not particularly good and not specifically evil -- enabled the dark forces because they felt they could be useful tools that they could control.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for average people to imagine they can control and use it.
In Germany, Hitler's NSDAP in 1930 got only 18.3% of the vote and 107 seats. Through machinations they worked their way up and in November 1932 they had 33% of the seats, becoming the largest party but far from a majority. The conservatives had already partnered with him. Then Hitler convinced President von Hindenburg and former Chancellor Papen to agree to make him Chancellor. Both men, and the conservatives in general, thought they could tame and use Hitler. They were wrong. Hitler used the power he got, along with violence, illegal tricks and of course, the Reichstag fire, to quickly turn himself into dictator.
In Italy, a similar story arose. In this case it was the monarchy and the wealthy conservatives who held power and thought they could tame and use Mussolini. His Fascist party was actually a minor party in the ruling coalition but he become prime minister after their march on Rome, thanks to the favour of King Victor Emmanuel III.
They had opposition. Hitler had strong and violet opposition in many cases. He used the communists, in particular as a scapegoat, as did Mussolini. For the wealthy and nobles of post-WWI Europe, the memory of the Russian revolution, which saw the confiscation of all the wealth, was a recent memory. It was easy to scare those powerful forces with such fear. While the German communist KPD limited their violent skirmishes with Hitler's NSDAP, it was enough to use them as a bogeyman.
Trump is not Hitler or Mussolini. There are those who try to say that, but you don't have to think it's even remotely true to see a similar pattern here.
The Republican establishment hated Trump. Many of them put themselves in the "never Trump" camp and then forgot the "never" part. It is particularly worthwhile to watch This interview with Lindsay Graham, particularly the part starting at around 1:18, where he reveals his true opinions of Ted Cruz (whom he has just endorsed) and in particular Donald Trump. Here, for once, Graham is being honest, and it's chilling. You can find similar statements from Cruz and even, in a milder form, from McConnell.
Now, they know he has control of their party, and that he is their only alternative to Democrat-controlled White House (and probably congress.) Their end is to keep their party in power, and he is the tool they think they can control. So much that almost none of them broke ranks on impeachment. Impeachment could have been an out for them. It could have been a way to be rid of the embarrassment they know Trump is, replacing him with Pence. The party would not lose the White House, but they feel that Trump has better chances than Pence (and polls do suggest that.)
As such, I have always felt the path away from Trump required not more opposition from the left, but rather convincing the right that he is not a useful tool for them. That was the key hope, in my book, for impeachment -- that the Republicans would realize that he will be a burden again soon, and again after that, and to take an opportunity to cut their losses.
It failed. Worse, their unity may be even stronger. They may now feel that betraying him is betraying their party, even more than they felt so before.
It could be that the right strategy for the left is to find an out for the conservatives. A face-saving out that doesn't destroy their party or switch political power completely to the other side. I've considered radical options like a Romney/Warren ticket which the Democrats would never do.
Trump was wise in his choice of Pence. On the one hand, he's not a dynamic figure the GOP can easily rally to the banner of. But his super-conservative reconstructionist views are almost as scary to Democrats as Trump's whatever-benefits-Trump ideology. A loud segment of the Democratic party imagines the only answer is a complete far-left progressive victory which scares the crap out of the right. As the nation gets more divided, nobody sees that the underlying principle of 2 party politics -- that the party with 51% gets to make all the rules and crush the 49% -- is an undemocratic mistake. Few truly mean it when they say they want to be the President or government for all Americans. Instead, they feel they must vanquish the other half of their country, a process that doesn't end well, and didn't end well when there was no alternative in the 1860s.
Let's not be on the path to that. Let's find that middle ground and convince the right they don't need Trump. That's how to stop the triumph of evil. A triumph that will do far more than diminish the United States. It is on the path to undoing the strength and success of the west itself.