In Brief — The author explores whether Donald Trump and the Republican Party are fascistic or merely opportunistically partisan. [Written in April 2017.]
If It Looks Like a Duck…
There’s an old saying that if it looks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. Using this reasoning, we’ll see if Donald Trump and the Republican Party are the fascists they seem to be.
Some overly-cautious people who fear being wrong believe that that in order to be a fascist, it’s necessary to be a Nazi like Hitler, to be Mussolini. To put that to rest, let’s look at the dictionary definition of fascism.
According to the dictionary, fascism (lower case “f”) is generally defined as a right-wing organization that is authoritarian, anti-liberal, nationalistic and militaristic. A fascist is an individual who holds these beliefs.
Breaking that down, right-wing means roughly conservative, reactionary, nationalistic, traditional and opposed to socialism in all its forms. Examples of some forms of socialism include public schools and trade unions.
Authoritarian refers to a person who is submissive to someone in authority, who believes in adhering to tradition, is hostile to those who don’t adhere to social norms (e.g., LBGT), and advocates coercive measures to achieve conformity.
Anti-liberal means one who is opposed to new ideas and has no respect for opinions other than his/her own.
Nationalistic can best be defined as belief in the superiority of one’s own country. “America First.” “America is great.”
Militaristic essentially means a policy of aggressive military size, preparedness and involvement.
Put all these definitions together and you have fascism.
Is Donald Trump a Fascist? —
Right-wing — Taking the elements described above, Trump is described by virtually every source as being right-wing. He espouses right-wing positions, appoints right-wing spokespersons to power positions in his government, and embraces right-wing ideologues.
Authoritarian — Out of his own mouth, Trump’s speeches indicate he is an authoritarian. Not just what he says but everything he does screams authoritarianism. He embraces dictatorial national leaders like Putin in Russia, Erdogan from Turkey and al-Sisi from Egypt.
Anti-liberal — Even a cursory look at the liberal view of accepting new ideas and respecting views other than one’s own, shows that Trump fails again. For example, on health care, Trump, aided by the Republican Party, has done and is doing his utmost to destroy Obamacare (is that also racist?). On consumer protection, he has bent over backwards to gut the laws protecting the little guy from greedy financial exploiters. On climate change and the environment, he refuses to accept the idea that humanity must act now to protect all of us.
Nationalistic— Everything Trump says revolves around the greatness of America and its way of life, i.e., his warped view of what is great about America. Whether it’s a border wall to keep out those dark-skinned people he feels are undesirable, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, having the strongest military in the world and other steps, it’s about assuring that the citizens of America, particularly white citizens will keep America great.
Militaristic — Trump’s budget lavishes buckets of money on an already overstuffed, wasteful and omnipresent military at the same time as he and the Republicans slash funds for art, science and education. Trump’s inner circle is chockablock with present or former military officers, more than any other administration in history. If you think the U.S. military (including military-equipped police forces) already owns the country, wait until Trump’s actions really kick in. This monster is already swallowing the nation whole.
The True Republican Party —
Take a look at the actions of the Republican Party beyond its frightening glamorization-of-the-past party platform. The party refused for many months to give a confirmation hearing to President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, and promised to refuse any judge for at least four years if a Democrat should win. Partisanship rules.
A look at Republican-dominated states shows that women are being deprived of their right to control their own bodies, LBGT individuals are being deprived of their rights, specious reasons are being put forth to deprive people of the right to vote, people of color are discriminated against and much, much more. In short, the Republican Party is setting America back in a wide variety of ways. This is partisanship on steroids.
While it’s undeniably partisan, the question is: Are they fascists or merely partisan? Although they are unquestionably complicit in Trump’s harmful actions and appointments, they don’t yet qualify as fascists as is the case with Erdogan’s Turkey. The evidence proves that the Republicans are blindly and harmfully partisan, but not yet fascists. Tomorrow? Maybe.
Although the truth hurts, America has a fascist president — for the nonce — put in office by voters who are predominantly fearful conscious or subconscious racists and homophobes. America also has a dominant party (also for the nonce), the Republicans, who are so partisan that the country is being noticeably set back. The combination is poisonous to the little “democracy” that remains. Concerned voters have a chance to take back America in 2018. Will it be too late? Will the voters restore a measure of sanity? Will they even care? Voting is the key!
The Weekly Sampler—
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