dexeron: (Angst)
[personal profile] dexeron
Leaving public because over the next four years this will either be proven entirely wrong, or horrifyingly correct. I hope for the former.


That is quite a subject line. "Trump is a fascist." Some might call it inflammatory, harsh, even premature.

I believe it is timely, and accurate.

There are a few terms that often get incorrectly thrown around in political discourse, and I usually hate seeing them. "Treason" is one. Treason is a crime with a specific definition in our Constitution, but often the term is thrown around against anyone we disagree with. "Obama/Bush/Clinton should be tried for treason!" cry conservatives and liberals alike, displaying nothing more than their misconception of what treason actually means. "Nazi" is another often misused word, as is "Hitler," and "fascism."

Yet I just called Trump a fascist above. Am I contradicting myself?


Fascism is a term that has been often overused by my own side of the political divide to criticize conservative policies and politicians over the years. For example, we liberals dislike voter ID laws, and "broken windows policing," and it's not uncommon to see both referred to as "fascist." Now, I'm not going to say that either of these conservative policies are good ones, or even that they haven't been extremely harmful, or unfair, or even racist. But "fascism" is a word with a specific definition, and to simply utter it as a catch-all term for anything we don't like, or for anyone we disagree with, cheapens our discourse.

That being said, although these terms are admittedly overused, this does not mean that these terms are never applicable! Many people erroneously called George W. Bush a "Nazi," and this was wrong. That does not mean that we can never use that term. If someone espouses the same beliefs as the Nazi Party, champions their ideals, and uses their tactics, then in that case it would be appropriate to use that term to describe that person.

Fascism has specific hallmarks and traits. One writer summed them up in a series of fourteen "points" (which I will list below.) I'm sure there might be some disagreement on some of these points, and as to the specific definition of fascism, but I think there should be little disagreement regarding the overall point being made.

According to political scientist Dr. Laurence Britt, fascism has fourteen "points" by which it can be identified. The points below are just headers; the actual list has clarifications and expansions on each point. You can see the complete list here, but for now, here is a truncated version:


1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

5. Rampant sexism

6. A controlled mass media

7. Obsession with national security

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

9. Power of corporations protected

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

14. Fraudulent elections

I would be remiss to not acknowledge that some of these points have been present in America for nearly as long as we've existed as a nation. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have displayed some of these points throughout their histories, and this ought to make each of us examine our own behavior and the behavior of our political allies. However, while any one of these points alone is troubling and is often harmful, on its own it does not make someone a fascist. It is the combination of these points together specifically that makes something fascist.


Last night, at the Republican National Convention, GOP nominee Donald Trump demonstrated all of these points. Allow me to go through them, one by one.

1. Donald Trump's nationalism is an echo of the way in which we've twisted patriotism into a religious dogma. Patriotism is not necessarily harmful, but the jingoism we've seen displayed in our nation, the "love it or leave it" attitude towards anyone who looks different or who dares to disagree with American policy is harmful. Donald Trump displayed, last night and previously, just that sort of nationalistic attitude.

2. His disdain for human rights has been on display with his words on his response to terrorism and crime. He believes in torture, and the murdering of the families of terrorism suspects.

3. His willingness to scapegoat and cast others as enemies to create unity has been seen in the way in which he's cast immigrants and Muslims. Wanting tighter control over immigration, or wanting our immigration laws enforced, does not make someone fascist. Calling immigrants rapists, and calling for a halt on all Muslim immigration (despite the terrorists representing a tiny percentage of all Muslim immigrants, and the majority of terrorism in the U.S. being committed by non-Muslims.)

4. His militarism is just the logical extension of something already far too prevalent (in both parties) in our nation. We champion our military regardless of the validity of its mission. We honor our troops regardless of their actions. We demand their use when diplomacy might suffice. We insist that they are defending our freedom when America has not faced an existential threat since the 1940s. We should support our troops, and we should honor those who serve, but the worship that some demand we give to them smacks of fascist militarism.

5. His sexism is without question, and does not require further exploration here.

6. He has proudly boasted of his desire to control the media. He has boasted of his plans to jail those who write negative things about him once he is in office. His willingness to wield the power of the courts to intimidate reporters who criticize him is a prelude to what he plans in office.

7. His obsession with national security echoes the similarly troubling obsession in our nation with an ever expansive security state. We have never been safer than we are now. Gun violence and crime are both at historical lows. Yet to hear Trump speak, we are all in mortal danger - and only he can save us from it.

8. His baldly opportunistic embrace of religion is a part-and-parcel of every fascist regime. Fascists make common cause with the most powerful religion in the culture. That honest believers actually think that he is in any way serious about his supposed faith in Christ speaks volumes to his ability to charm the credulous.

9. His love of corporate power is fully on display. His tax plan is a giveaway to the corporations.

10. His disdain for labor is notorious, and shared with his son, who spoke out loudly against the teachers unions.

11. His disdain for the educated was also exemplified by his son's words about the "intellectual elite." He blames such "elites" for the problems in our country, and appeals to an uneducated emotionally fueled reactionary mob mentality.

12. His obsession with crime and punishment again echoes the running trend in our nation. We've treated diseases like addiction like crime and have waged war on them, destroying communities and families. We lock up more prisoners than any first-world nation. He promises more of the same.

13. He doesn't even bother to hide his cronyism or willingness to engage in all kinds of corruption. His lists of potential cabinet nominees are shocking.

14. The only part of the fascist list which he has yet to demonstrate is the rigging of elections, and that's because he's not in a position to do so... yet.

Now I'm sure some of you will look at this list and happily note that some of these traits apply to Hillary Clinton. I, too, recognize her imperfections, flaws that stem, unfortunately, from what is all too commonly expressed in our own national character. It is neither unpatriotic, nor un-American, to admit that all of us are part of a system that has willingly embraced a measure of far too many of these traits. It is our recognition of our shortcomings that inspires us to fight to make things better (even Trump supporters want to make America great "again.")

But whatever else we can say about America, or about Hillary Clinton, there is no other current candidate (hell, no candidate in my recent memory) in whom have these fourteen points been so exemplified, so baldly touted to the cheering adulation of the crowds, than in Donald Trump. No recent person has so well demonstrated the old adage: "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." No other candidate is so dishonest in their fear-mongering, so unashamed in their finger-pointing, so gleeful in their scapegoating - so openly fascist.

(Whatever Hillary Clinton's flaws may be (and she had many,) she at least does not approach every issue with "who do we blame for it" and has demonstrated in the past a capacity to admit to being wrong, and to do better on an issue.)


The nomination of Donald Trump should be horrifying to every American citizen, regardless of political party or affiliation. One of our two major parties just nominated an actual fascist during an event that was, itself, a blatant display of fascist thought, speech, and behavior. We should all be very, very afraid.

There are words that are overused, and I'm sure that my dismay at Trump's nomination will be dismissed by many because I am using this word. To fail to use the best term available, however, is as dishonest as overusing it. Trump is a fascist; the definition fits and no other word better applied. If we, in our apathy and insistence on allowing perfect to be the enemy of good, elect such a man to our Presidency, we have only ourselves to blame for what our country will become. Considering the horrible abuses of the past, those who say "it could never happen here" ignore history and have their heads in the sand. It is happening here, now, and we are the ones with the duty to stop it.

(I had a hard time crystallizing my thoughts on this issue. Thank you to Daniel Katz and Mandy Jansen for putting a lot of this into words, and allowing me to use some of their points to get this all across.)
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Daniel Lustig

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