Republicans have spent years expanding the popular base for Trump’s fascism

When a country is ripe for fascism, a fascist leader will emerge. The mistake we commonly make is to focus all our attention on such a leader, while being less critical of those who follow him — because they are uneducated, misinformed, and gullible. After all, it’s easier to express contempt for a man like Donald Trump than it is to criticize ones own neighbors.

As conservative politicians and commentators are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticisms of Trump — many are now openly calling him a fascist — the fact is, many of those critics have also long fanned the same bigotry around which Trump has built his presidential campaign, especially the Islamophobia that has been the backdrop of American politics for over a decade.

CNN reports: “Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it,” tweeted Max Boot, a conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is advising Marco Rubio.

“Forced federal registration of US citizens, based on religious identity, is fascism. Period. Nothing else to call it,” Jeb Bush national security adviser John Noonan wrote on Twitter.

Conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Ted Cruz, also used the “F” word last week: “If Obama proposed the same religion registry as Trump every conservative in the country would call it what it is — creeping fascism.”

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Moreover, as Trump’s popularity is viewed in the context of contemporary American culture — the Tea Party, the polarizing effect of social media, fear of government, xenophobia, and isolationism — let’s not forget that as Hitler’s fascism rose in Germany, some of its most outspoken supporters could be found in the United States.

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2 thoughts on “Republicans have spent years expanding the popular base for Trump’s fascism

  1. hquain

    Of course, one must also pay attention to the internal game. If X pejoratively calls Y a ‘fascist’, then X can’t be a fascist, right? Boot e.g. is a rightwing militarist from way back. It may be in some cases that Trump’s bluster is spoiling the brand rather than enunciating policies that they sincerely abhor. (For example, it’s OK to use torture for revenge a la Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush, but not OK to announce as policy that you want to use torture for revenge.) It then becomes attractive to tar him with the worst tar around while inoculating yourself against the same. The rightwing commentariat turns as instantaneously as a school of fish.

    Among Trump’s most striking qualities is his blunt belligerence. The old saw has it that when fascism comes to the US, it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a bible. Everyone pretty much agreed on this, including who waving flag and bible in hopes of moving into positions of authority. But Trump’s relation to the bible is perfunctory at best, and his nationalistic appeals are to raw self-interest, cast in social and racial terms. It turns out that there are some dangers involved in minority rule.

    Are the cited pundits beginning to panic, or are they pretending to panic? We’ve got front-row seats at what looks to be a gruesome transition.

  2. Paul Woodward Post author

    My guess is that the pangs of “conscience” on the right have less to do with a fear of fascism than a fear of Trump getting the GOP nomination and then losing in the general election. In polling against Clinton, Rubio is currently the strongest competitor and Trump the weakest among the front runners. Trump’s campaign style is much better suited to the primaries where he can appeal to his populist base, than the general election where he would have to present himself as less extreme. So I think the GOP establishment is more afraid of a Trump implosion than a Trump dictatorship. And if he doesn’t get the nomination, they then have to fear him running as an independent. Either way, he’s turned into a nightmare for the GOP.

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