Since the early days of Trump's candidacy after he became the Republican nominee, a great many epithets were thrown his way, some of which fit, others hyperbolic. Most notable among the later were comparisons of him to Hitler. I've long avoided that, and continue to. While I understand the anger behind the references, and know that there are overlaps in sensibility and and even some positions, the reality is that "sensibility and even some positions" are not how history defines Hitler. He is vilified as evil because of the Holocaust and Final Solution, and his efforts to take over the world through war. I hate Trump, but as reprehensible as his positions, sensibility and divisiveness is, most especially towards minorities and more, he isn't that.
I say all this to make clear that for all my harsh criticism of Trump -- as a misogynist, racist, psychopath, congenital liar and worse -- I don't easily paint him with that most critical brush as do many.
That said, I do now feel very comfortable in saying -- after having believed it for a long while at this point -- that among his other many characteristics Trump is a fascist. I
I don't mean that as an exaggerated description of indignation, but in the most literal sense.
I remember during the presidential campaign flipping channels and being surprised to see a Democrat I liked as a guest on Tucker Carlson's TV show on "Fox News," and stopping long enough to see him presciently describe Trump even back then as a fascist. Carlson's hair almost burst in flames. He was almost bouncing out of his seat, "How can you call him that?? How can you call him that?!!!" The guest -- I wish I could remember who he was -- was trying to answer, but the cries of Carlson and his other panelists of "How can you say that???!!" and "That's just shameful!" and angst, moans and tsk-tsking drowned out any effort, so the question never got answered. At the time, it was an early call of Trump's fascism, and although I wasn't personally convinced yet of it, I understood the position, and was hoping the guest would get a chance to explain. But when a TV host has imploded and having an emotional meltdown, some things get pushed to the background.
But that guest was far ahead of the game in his certainty, and it remains so today. Trump is a fascist.
There are three basic tenets that define fascism: one is a push to eliminate any voices of opposition sources of authority and leadership. Another is an intense use of xenophobia and overt reliance on patriotism to demonize foreigners. And finally, there is the use of force and brutality.
It's difficult to not see those words painted over the fullness that is Trump. Even acolytes most devoted to him, while crying out at the label, would be hard-pressed to deny the description, especially since so many revel in it. Indeed support him specifically for those reasons. But when you proudly wear the definition, it comes with the badge.
In any democratic society, the most significant voices of authority outside of the government are a free press, legal system and the police. And from the first, Trump has tried to undermine the public's faith and trust in them all. His near-daily calls of "fake news" have no purpose other than to make the public lose faith in independent news coverage. Even to the extent of calling for a change in libel laws. He's gone so far as to call the free press "the enemy." And just last week, as Forbes magazine (hardly a bastion of liberal thought) reported on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security has outlined "a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers" which the author described with an eye on the First Amendment as "enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions." We've seen too Trump's attacks on the judiciary, questioning decisions because of a judge's heritage. There have been his attacks to undercut decisions for not being made by "elected officials." Along with continual tweet storms and speeches lashing out to challenge the legitimacy of court rulings and "so-called judges." And from the first, back during the presidential campaign, were Trump's unrelenting denials in findings by the entire breadth of the intelligence community. His claims of fictitious "deep state" illegal conspiracies by the FBI are themselves solely intended to strip those law enforcement services of credibility. Not to mention his firings of FBI and Justice Department officials for reasons of claimed bias -- all the more critical since they are the ones investigating him, most particularly his continual attacks on the man in charge of that very investigation. All to subvert confidence in the legitimacy of any findings of that investigation.
As for xenophobia, the core of the Trump platform has been hatred of others. His earliest positions centered on building a wall specifically to keep Mexicans out. And worse, not just Mexicans because it was illegal, but because they were drug-dealers, rapists and criminals and a threat to America. He ramped up on this -- in a nation whose foundation stems from a First Amendment ob the freedom of speech and religion -- by making those who follow the Muslim faith to be the face of terrorism. He has gone so far as proposing such actions as the surveillance of mosques, having databases kept of Muslims, and creating travel bans based purely on someone being a Muslim. If you are are different, if you wear a burka, if your skin is dark, you are suspicious. Indeed, Trump's rise in the political world was based on inflaming those fears of "others, claiming that the black president was not born in the United States and ineligible to be in office. And the very foundation of the Trump political universe is America First (a slogan that had been used by white supremacists in an earlier time in U.S. history) and his dream to Make America Great Again -- with the clear implication being that what has stripped America's greatness is the influx of Mexicans, Muslims, a black president and foreigners. Doing his best to obliterate the mix of cultures being the very melting pot that has actually been what made America great, with the Statue of Liberty lifting its lamp to welcome those onto our shores.
And then the violence, use of force and bullying. At Trump rallies during the presidential campaign, his ranting against the media grew so strong that press members covering the events had to be roped off and have security to protect them from threats. (Meanwhile reinforcing that they were different, and had to to separated.) When supporters in the crowds were taken into custody for punching dissenting voices in the arenas, Trump supported them by promising to pay the bail of anyone who was arrested. (Something that, given his notoriety for not paying his bills, is unlikely he would have actually done.) His own campaign manager was charged by a journalist of battery. When a woman was killed at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Trump's response was to defend neo-Nazis as having some "very fine people." Indeed, during his presidential campaign, Trump was unable to explain a denunciation of neo-Nazi and white supremacy support. At best, only when relentlessly pressed, did he make some bland dismissal, but when the moment passed he sent out his dog whistles once again to court them all. And Trump has regularly and repeatedly pronounced his praise for dictators. From Russia's Vladimir Putin to Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan to the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte (going so far as not just praising the strongman's policy of killing drug dealers without due process, but adopting aspects of it) and up to China's Xi Jinping, most notably upon that country's laws being changed to reinforces his rule which prompted Trump to quip, "He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day" Yes, Trump spokesman tried to dismiss it as a joke. A shame there's all that supporting evidence and history contradicting him. And the result of all this is that the Trump base sees the actions and hears the words of its hero and thinks that that gives them cover to attack minorities on street, Muslims especially, or anyone who they think maybe even looks "Muslim," ranting at them to go back where they came from -- which is reprehensible and so profoundly against American ideals under any condition, but all the more so when most of those attacked are actually American and home, where they are from -- and we've seen such brutal attacks, physical and verbal, regularly on the rise.
So, the Tucker Carlsons of the world can have their hair set on fire when they hear Trump described as a fascist. But if they want to weep out, "How can you call him that???!!!" -- well, those are just some of the great many reasons why.
The thing is, I don't think most of even Trump's most devout supporters will disagree with my description of him here. They may detest my "libtard" interpretation of it all, and think that what he's been doing is right and proper and even necessary, needing to be done in order to "Make America Great Again." But I think they'd agree that I have the facts straight. And like it or not, cry and scream and moan, those facts and that description is the definition of fascism.
Note: If you don't like being called a fascist, then don't act like one. And don't support one. It's really that simple.
To be clear, I wouldn't say that all those who support Trump are fascists. Some are. Some may be too naive to see what they're supporting. They may see a few of their political positions getting traction and find it politically expedient to ignore the rest. Some may support him because they don't like Democrats and liberals. But at best, they are enabling fascism. Because Trump is a fascist.
Not to worry, because he's still also a misogynist, racist, psychopath, congenital liar con man.
But make no mistake -- Trump is a fascist.
Or can you can have saved your time reading all this and have it explained to you in under 90 seconds.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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