With presidential elections occurring only once every four years, it can be difficult to remember exactly what the normal course of events looks like between election day and inauguration day. In this case, it’s been eight full years since we’ve witnessed a change in the occupant of the White House, making it even harder to recall all the ins and outs of the transfer of power.
For example, as Trump launches his “Thank You” victory tour tonight at a rally in Cincinnati, you may find yourself wondering, “Did Obama have post-victory rallies? Did Bush? What about Clinton?”
Newsweek investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald wondered the same thing, so he did a little research. He had to go back quite a ways (and quite a distance) to find a similar set of circumstances:
Researched political, non-campaign victory rallies. Found 2: Trump's & Reichsparteitag des Sieges. Yah, it took place in 1930s. In Germany.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) November 29, 2016
That’s right, the last time a politician held victory celebrations in his own honor they were called the Nuremberg Rallies. They began after the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933 and became a yearly event emblematic of the power of the regime’s propaganda machine.
Each year, the rallies grew larger and more impressive, and Hitler’s speeches became progressively more sinister. The rally in 1939, scheduled to begin on September 2, was cancelled at the last moment—Hitler and Germany had invaded Poland the day before.
So no, you don’t remember this happening. This is unusual.
Look, the point of this article is not to flippantly shout “Look, Trump is Hitler!” Rather, it is to point out that certain types of leaders behave in certain types of ways and we must always be vigilant and conscious of historical parallels as they present themselves. Past is prelude. History repeats itself.
Presidents-elect typically spend this time focused not on gloating and getting back out among the fawning crowds, but on the very serious and difficult task of preparing to do the job of President of the United States. Sometimes they even hold press conferences, something Trump has not done for 127 days (as of this writing).
There is also something especially awkward about taking a victory lap when, in fact, you lost the popular vote by over two and a half million votes. But perhaps this will be Donald Trump’s long-awaited pivot. Maybe he will stand before thousands of supporters tonight and be the picture of magnanimity, seriousness and decorum.
Or maybe he won’t.
Here’s a little taste of Adolph Hitler’s victory rally: