Are Trump and His Republican Party Simply Fascists?

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Written by Leonard   
Tuesday, 09 June 2020 06:18

In July, 2003,  Laurence W. Britt wrote an article, Fascism Anyone?, for the Free Inquiry magazine, based on studies of seven fascist regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’ Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia[1].  Britt gleaned from these studies a list of detailed characteristics, which clearly define a fascist government regime.  His analysis of these seven regimes revealed fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. In this article we provide numerous examples of Trump’s and the Republican Party’s policies, legislation and operating procedures that match Laurence Britt’s fourteen characteristics of fascism:

1.     Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: From the prominent displays of flags to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens is always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism [1].

In a speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2019, Trump stated his basic world view, “The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them or replace them.  The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots.”  He added “wise leaders put their own people and countries first.”  As far as a catchy slogan, try “Make America Great Again.”

2.     Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Characterized by: “Forceful separation of Parents and children; preference for dictatorships over democracies; attacks on Medicare, Social Security and Refugees” [1].

a) Trump ignored the treaties governing asylum seekers, kidnapped children crossing the US border with their parents and many times caged the children for months and more, cruelly and permanently separating them from their families.  b) His favorite world leaders include Russia’s Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and China’s Xi Jinping; c) he insults democratic NATO partners, Canada, Mexico and many other US allies on a regular basis with notably no opposition from new or old guard Republican Senators; d) Trump and his Republicans continue to threaten Medicare and Social Security.

3.     Identification of Enemies and Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause : Acts against target scapegoats; usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” [1].

From the day Trump announced his candidacy, he showed us he was a racist.  From the beginning announcement of his candidacy, the escalator speech: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best...they’re sending people that have lots of problems...they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”[2];  b)  His “wall” on the southern border; c) his caging of refugee children; d) his bans against Muslims travelling to the US...and many more actions which were all supported by the Republican Party;  e) Trump On Immigration,“  Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?” (WH Meeting, 11/1/18)

4.  The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite [1].

Here are some examples: a) Trump threatens 'heavily armed' military deployments to quash protests if governors and mayors do not 'establish an overwhelming law-enforcement presence' [3]. b) ‘President Donald Trump’s $740.5 billion military budget is only a hair larger than the current year’s budget, but it is still the largest since World War II, and it’s even more notable for what it emphasizes: building more nuclear weapons, preparing for exotic flavors of warfare, and expanding America’s global military presence’ [4].  c)  Trump’s own former Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis accuses Trump of trying to divide America and roundly denounced a militarization of the U.S. response to civil unrest.

5. Rampant Sexism: Fascist regimes inevitably view women as second-class citizens. They were also adamantly anti-abortion and homophobic [1].

a) Evidence of Trump’s pathological patriarchal privilege is demonstrated nearly every day in his treatment and depiction of women.  b) Moreover, he has had at least 22 personal sexual assault and harassment cases (that we are aware of) not counting Stormy Daniels and her law suit; c) Trump’s attitude towards women was made clear in his own words on his live broadcast from the van with Billy Bush, when he said, “'You Can Do Anything, you can grab…”: then Trump brags about groping and kissing Women [5]. d) When you watch the US Senate sessions you note a nearly totally white, male Republican group.  The GOP in the House of Representatives is not much better.

6. Controlled Mass Media: Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy [1].

Many examples come to mind for 21st century Republican Trumpism a) 80M followers on Twitter, which is often used to announce divisive, punitive and often untrue statements, publicly attack “perceived” enemies and actually make policy and terminate administration officials by non-official or non-legal channels; b) Complete control of FOX News as a Republican news media outlet that even provides high level appointees to the Trump administration; and c) honoring and praising the “Rush Limbaughs”, who are generally supportive of far right Republican agendas and are often not even close to the true “facts”.

7.     Obsession with National Security: Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous [1].

More than a few items have appeared in three and one-half years: a) Build a wall on the US southern border; b) threaten to use nuclear weapons on North Korea; c) close US boarders to Muslims, Hispanics and other refugees seeking asylum; d) escalated tensions with Iran for no good reason; e) cancellation of treaties, actions experts agree weakens US positions. f) Trump physically putting more and more space between himself and citizens, and while his attorney general busily constructs a secret police force [6].  Most experts agree that Trump’s and Barr’s actions and day-to-day operating procedures have greatly weakened US national security.

8.     Religion and Government are Intertwined: Fascist regimes portray themselves as militant defenders of the religion that has dominated the nation state. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion [1].

While Trump has not shown himself to be a person of religious conviction, he has catered to the US Evangelicals because they form a critical component in his political base.  He turned against women’s Right to Choose, in order to be more in line with the Religious Right. Trump’s white Christian supporters see him as their long-awaited savior – not just the protector of traditional religion, but also the defender of a bygone way of life defined by white male patriarchal rule. Trump’s use of religion follows playbook of authoritarian-leaning leaders the world over [7].  Whites who identify as Christians still represent about two-thirds of all Republicans; they now compose only one-fourth of Democrats [8].

9.     Power of Corporations Protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of have-not citizens [1].

a) Trump has shown a preference for Cabinet and other Executive Branch appointees from the corporate sector or the conservative news media. b) The 2018 Tax Bill, passed by a strictly partisan vote by the Republican Party, gave over 80% of $2T to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.  Not surprisingly, the Trump administration’s first term has failed working people. “Besides not delivering on certain grand promises, he has managed to launch a multifaceted assault on the labor movement that is achieving what many Republicans and neoliberal Democrats have been wanting for years with the help of the Supreme Court, the NLRB, executive orders, and deregulation.” [9].

10.  Power of labor suppressed or eliminated: Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor underclass was viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. [1]

Trump and Republicans are Anti-union; a) There are no advocates for workers’ rights or labor; All were especially surprised  when President Trump nominated Eugene Scalia for Secretary of Labor, who made his reputation in Washington as a lawyer for big corporations resisting labor regulations; [10]  b) Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has systematically rolled back workers’ rights to form unions and engage in collective bargaining with their employers, to the detriment of workers, their communities, and the economy.

11.  Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal [1].

a) Trump continues to ignore the recommendations of long-term government experts and academics in favor of his own misinformed and unsubstantiated beliefs, conspiracy theories that support his political needs and stories he hears for the first time on FOX News. b) As far as the Arts, Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. c) He continues to rail against universities, discounts science and ignore all interest in evidence or facts.  He prefers "Republican WH generated alternate facts."

12.  Obsession with Crime and Punishment: “Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Normal and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime.” [1]

a) The US has 4.4% of the world’s population but houses 22% of the world’s prisoners at a level approximately three million people.  b) While Trump did not create this high rate of imprisonment, he added to it  by adding tens of thousands of immigrants to the prison roles.  c) Under Trump and Republican privatization policies, private prisons have seen substantial profit increases.

13.  Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. [1]

The Trump Administration has been one of the most corrupt in US history. a) In less than one year of being in office several cabinet members and advisors were already engaged in questionable or unethical behavior.  b) Nepotism is rampant even at  extremely high security levels in the Trump Administration.  Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner both occupy senior advisor positions in the white house; c) Trump continues to earn money from his businesses. The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a fundraising mecca for special interest groups, foreign governments, Republicans and GOP-aligned groups. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort doubled its initiation fee after Trump’s election.  d) Elaine Chao, US Secretary of Transportation and spouse of Mitch, supported grants totaling at least $78 million go to Kentucky for favored projects as Sen. McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection. e) National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price have the shortest-service tenures in the history of their respective offices.  f) As many as twenty high ranking WH officials have had to leave the Administration because of perceived corruption, illegal spending on personal items or disagreements with Trump.  There are just too many examples of corruption to list here and even more if we look at Trump’s private sector career: g) Trump University...a huge fraudulent education scam that Trump paid $35M to evade going to court for criminal charges; h) Trump Foundation...Trump's embezzlement of the majority of the funds (closed down by the government); i) Failure to pay hotel construction contractors after completion of work...e.g., Atlantic City Hotel Casinos...and  many more.

14.  Fraudulent Elections: Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite [1].

In any form of governance, especially a professed democracy, fraudulent elections would probably be the most dangerous and disturbing characteristic.  It’s too difficult to list all the Republican voter suppression actions in the last decade but here are a few:  a) Since the 2010 elections, 24 states have implemented new restrictions on voting. b) Alabama now requires a photo ID to cast a ballot;  c) Ohio and Georgia have enacted "use it or lose it" laws, which strike voters from registration rolls [11];  d) the Mother Jones Article, Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump, And possibly handed him the whole election, makes a strong case for how Trump won Wisconsin because of a recent voter ID law targeting black voters in Milwaukee [12];  e) A conservative group is forcing Wisconsin to purge upwards of 230,000 people from state voter rolls more than a year earlier than planned, a move that will disproportionately affect Democrats before the 2020 election [13]; f)  On April 6, 2020 the Trump-McConnell stacked U.S. Supreme Court refused, in a 5-to-4 ruling, to allow additional days for absentee voting in the Wisconsin primary as part of the Republican plan to lessen the effect of mail ballots;  g)  According to the New York Times, the GOP plans to recruit 50,000 volunteers in 15 states to enforce what they are calling their anti-voter fraud efforts, which includes monitoring polls and aggressively challenging votes and intimidating voter registrations.  Times Article: GOP spending $20M on alleged voter suppression for the 2020 election; [14] h) Trump recently said of legal Democratic voting proposals, “They have things, levels of voting, that if you’d ever agree to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”[15] So basically, let’s cheat.  As it has been true of his entire life, Trump needs to cheat to win. So did most fascists.  Thereafter, fascists controlled all elections or simply stopped having them altogether.

Are Trump and the Republican Party Simply Fascists? As many people say, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck,......

References:

1.     Fascism Anyone, ,  Laurence W. Britt,   Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol 22 no 2, {15}.

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27/076.html

2.     https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/13/donald-trump-presidential-campaign-speech-eyewitness-memories

3.     https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-calls-for-national-guard-and-military-nationwide-protests-2020-6

4.     https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/02/trump-military-budget-defense-740-billion-analysis.html

5.     https://www.npr.org/2016/10/07/497087141/donald-trump-caught-on-tape-making-vulgar-remarks-about-women

6.     https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/bill-barr-personal-army-dc-trump-protests-biden-election-a9549791.html

7.     https://theconversation.com/trumps-use-of-religion-follows-playbook-of-authoritarian-leaning-leaders-the-world-over-140050

8.     https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/22/politics/religion-gap-republican-democratic-voters-polling/index.html

9.     https://www.epi.org/publication/unprecedented-the-trump-nlrbs-attack-on-workers-rights/

10.   https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/donald-trump-labor-unions-workers

11.   https://www.npr.org/2018/10/23/659784277/republican-voter-suppression-efforts-are-targeting-minorities-journalist-says

12.   https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppression-wisconsin-election-2016/

13.   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/21/trump-adviser-republicans-voter-suppression

14.   https://thegrio.com/2020/05/21/gop-alleged-voter-suppression-2020-election/

15.   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/opinion/sunday/republicans-voter-suppression.html

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