POLIZETTE — Hysterical liberals and some Establishment Republicans apoplectic at the thought of a Trump presidency often like to make comparisons between Donald Trump, his supporters, and 1930s Germany.
However to understand Trump’s rise — and his supporters’ enthusiasm — they should look not to Germany’s past but to its present. There are currently striking economic and social similarities between the United States and Germany. And those similarities are producing similar results: the rise of a strong right-wing populist movement. In the U.S. it is Trump and the populist wing of the GOP. In Germany it is Frauke Petry and her nationalist-conservative AfD party — the Alternative for Germany.
Much like the United States, Germany’s experience with globalization has seen the shrinking of the middle class and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, despite its ability to game the Euro system in order sustain its manufacturing base.
A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released in May 2015 found that the top 10 percent of earners in Germany made nearly seven times as much as the bottom 10 percent. Germany’s wealth gap is the widest it has been in decades — in the 1980s it was 5:1. This should sound familiar to U.S. readers. A 2014 Pew study found that the median net worth of American high earners was 6.6 times the money than that of low earners, the exact same ratio as in Germany. In the 1980s the gap was around 4:1.
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