Why do people think Trump is a fascist?

Author: Jasmine ,

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  • Jasmine
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    So I was looking at this "Trumpism is Fascism" debate. And it reminds me of when I kept seeing "Trump and his cult followers are fascists." And like, I asked them why they thought Trump was a fascist 'cuz I was curious....They never got back to me.

    So.. Why do people think Trump is a fascist? 
  • bmdrocks21
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    Because orange man is bad and Hitler and Mussolini are also bad and they are fascists. Ergo, Trump is fascist

    Not to mention, Mussolini, Hitler, and Trump all drank water.

    The connections just keep piling up
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Jasmine
    So.. Why do people think Trump is a fascist? 
    trump engages in alot of the same behavior that fascists did in their rise to power.

    - the rampant nationalism (blurring heavily into jingoism).
    - The calls of restoring a lost idealized period that they would restore. For Mussolini, this was the restoration of a roman empire. For trump it is less clear when specifically america was "great" and how you would make it that way again. But this call for lost "greatness" is core to both. 
    - the use of an "other" as a foil. To hitler it was the jews that "stabbed germany in the back" in WW 1. To Trump, he uses a couple, but primarily it was mexico and china. 
    - The cult of personality. Both hitler and Mussolini played themselves up as a "strong man" who was at the core of their political movement. Trump very much does this as well. 
    - And, most recently, fear mongering your base against an invisible enemy that you need to overthrow. To hitler it was primarily communists he did this to (see the burning of the Reichstag). To Trump it is the "deep state" and election rigging, even though there is no evidence such a thing occurred. 

    There are many disturbing parallels between hitler, Mussolini and Trump.  

  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Jasmine
    Because fascism is seen as equivalent to nationalism.

    So the very idea that America should be first or that a person identifies themselves as belonging to the American tribe is seen as being Fascist.
  • drafterman
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    What would count as fascism in your opinion?
  • Greyparrot
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    Recently, there have been a number of articles and statements asserting that fascism is rising in Europe and that Donald Trump is an American example of fascism. This is a misrepresentation of a very real phenomenon. The nation-state is reasserting itself as the primary vehicle of political life. Multinational institutions like the European Union and multilateral trade treaties are being challenged because they are seen by some as not being in the national interest. The charge of a rise in fascism derives from a profound misunderstanding of what fascism is. It is also an attempt to discredit the resurgence of nationalism and to defend the multinational systems that have dominated the West since World War II.

    Nationalism is the core of the Enlightenment’s notion of liberal democracy. It asserts that the multinational dynasties that ruled autocratically denied basic human rights. Among these was the right to national self-determination and the right of citizens to decide what was in the national interest. The Enlightenment feared tyranny and saw the multinational empires dominating Europe as the essence of tyranny. Destroying them meant replacing them with nation-states. The American and French revolutions were both nationalist risings, as were the nationalist risings that swept Europe in 1848. Liberal revolutions were by definition nationalist because they were risings against multinational empires.

    Fascism differs from nationalism in two profound ways. First, self-determination was not considered a universal right by fascists. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Francisco Franco, to mention three obvious fascists, only endorsed nationalism for Germany, Italy, and Spain. The rights of other nations to a nation-state of their own were at best unclear to the fascists. In a very real sense, Hitler and Mussolini believed in multinationalism, albeit with other nations submitting to their will. Fascism in its historical form was an assault on the right of nations to pursue their self-interest and an elevation of the fascists’ right to pursue it based on an assertion of their nations’ inherent superiority and right to rule.

    But the more profound difference was the conception of internal governance. Liberal nationalism accepted that the right to hold power was subject to explicit and periodic selection of the leaders by the people. How this was done varied. The American system is very different from the British, but the core principles remain the same. It also requires that opponents of the elected have the right to speak out against them and to organize parties to challenge them in the future. Most importantly, it affirms that the people have the right to govern themselves through these mechanisms and that those elected to lead must govern in the people’s name. Leaders must also be permitted to govern and extra-legal means cannot be used to paralyze the government, any more than the government has the right to suppress dissent.

    Fascism asserts that Hitler or Mussolini represent the people but are not answerable to them. The core of fascism is the idea of the dictator, who emerges through his own will. He cannot be challenged without betraying the people. Therefore, free speech and opposition parties are banned and those who attempt to oppose the regime are treated as criminals. Fascism without the dictator, without the elimination of elections, without suppression of free speech and the right to assemble, isn’t fascism.

    Arguing that being part of the European Union is not in the British interest, that NATO has outlived its usefulness, that protectionist policies or anti-immigration policies are desirable is not fascist. These ideas have no connection to fascism whatsoever. They are far more closely linked to traditional liberal democracy. They represent the reassertion of the foundation of liberal democracy, which is the self-governing nation-state. It is the foundation of the United Nations, whose members are nation-states, and where the right to national self-determination is fundamental.

    Liberal democracy does not dictate whether a nation should be a member of a multinational organization, adopt free trade policies or protectionism, or welcome or exclude immigrants. These are decisions to be made by the people – or more precisely, by the representatives they select. The choices may be wise, unwise or even unjust. However, the power to make these choices rests, in a liberal democracy, in the hands of the citizens.

    What we are seeing is the rise of the nation-state against the will of multinational organizations and agreements. There are serious questions about membership in the EU, NATO, and trade agreements, and equally about the right to control borders. Reasonable people can disagree, and it is the political process of each nation that retains the power to determine shifts in policy. There is no guarantee that the citizenry will be wise, but that cuts both ways and in every direction.

    The current rise of nationalism in Europe is the result of European institutions’ failure to function effectively. Eight years after 2008, Europe still has not solved its economic problems. A year after the massive influx of refugees in Europe, there is still no coherent and effective policy to address the issue. Given this, it would be irresponsible for citizens and leaders not to raise questions as to whether they should remain in the EU or follow its dictates. Similarly, there is no reason for Donald Trump not to challenge the idea that free trade is always advantageous, or to question NATO. However obnoxious his style and however confusing his presentation, he is asking questions that must be asked.

    In the 1950s, the McCarthyites charged anyone they didn’t like with being communists. Today, those who disapprove of the challengers of the current system call them fascists. Now, some of the opponents of the EU or immigration may really be fascists. But the hurdle for being a fascist is quite high. Fascism is far more than racism, tinkering with the judiciary, or staging a violent demonstration. Real fascism consisted of Nazi Germany’s “leader principle” – which dictated absolute obedience to the Führer, whose authority was understood to be above the law.

    We are seeing a return to nationalism in Europe and the United States because it is not clear to many that internationalism, as followed since World War II, benefits them any longer. They may be right or wrong, but to claim that fascism is sweeping Europe and the United States raises the question of whether those who say this understand the principles of fascism or the intimate connection between nationalism and liberal democracy. People can obviously choose democratic nationalism without the tyranny of a dictator.

  • oromagi
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    --> @Jasmine
    Here is an interesting WashPo article from before the 2016 election.  Even then, Trump merited 26 benitos out of a possible 44 but consider how radically most of Trump's low scores have swung towards fascism while in office.


    John McNeill is a professor of history at Georgetown University.
    Oct. 21, 2016 at 4:00 a.m. MDT

    “Donald Trump is a fascist” sounds more like a campaign slogan than an analysis of his political program. But it’s true that the GOP nominee doesn’t fit into America’s conventional party categories, and thoughtful people — authors Robert Kagan and Jeffrey Tucker, among others — have hurled the f-word at him.

    Fascism was born in Italy during World War I and came to power with the ex-journalist and war veteran Benito Mussolini in 1922. Since the 1950s, dozens of top historians and political scientists have put fascism, especially the Italian and German versions, under the microscope. They’ve come up with a pretty solid agreement on what it is, both as a political ideology and as a political movement, factoring in all the (sometimes contradictory) things its progenitors said as they ascended to power. As a political ideology, fascism has eight main traits. As a political movement, it has three more. So: Just how fascist is Trump? On the fascist meter, we can award him zero to four “Benitos.”

    First, the ideological features:

    1. Hyper-nationalism. This attribute is not confined to fascism, but it is central to all fascism. Trump regularly promises to put America first and extolls the virtues of ordinary Americans (by which he often seems to mean white Americans). His trade policy qualifies as economic nationalism. By the standards of American politics, he is a hyper-nationalist, but by the standards of historical fascism, he is not in the upper echelon. Two Benitos.

    Since Trump's kind words to the  Unite the Right Rally at Charlottesville, I suppose most historians would bump Trump's "nationalism" benitos up one benito at least to three benitos.

    2. Militarism. Fascists routinely lionized military institutions and military virtues, and at least rhetorically sought military solutions to political issues. Trump lavishes praise on the troops, as almost all American politicians do these days, and he has proposed (in vague and vulgar terms) a militaristic solution to the problem posed by the Islamic State. He has recommend taking the oil of the Middle East, which presumably would require armed force. But by and large, Trump does not blithely recommend military action and often lambastes his rivals for allegedly incompetent military adventurism. He does not dress his followers in ersatz military garb. Two Benitos.
    I'd keep this one at two.  While Trump has tried to project himself as a friend of the soldier and there was that parade he wanted the military to throw for him but the Pentagon has been far more standoffish with Trump than any prior President and the Joint Chiefs frequent assurances that any nuclear action would be checked is proof enough that the present Commander in Chief is a more honorific title than with any prior President.

    3. Glorification of violence and readiness to use it in politics. Fascists such as Mussolini thought violence could cleanse and redeem a tarnished nation. They encouraged loyal thugs to rough up, and occasionally kill, people whose politics differed from theirs. Trump scores low here. His rallies, according to many reports, have a frisson of menace to them; he has said things that could be interpreted as invitations to assassination; his followers often speak longingly of violent acts they wish to see committed against others; he has recommended using torture and killing the families of terrorists. But this still leaves him well short of the standard of Mussolini’s blackshirts or Hitler’s brownshirts, who not only called for political violence but resorted to it extensively. One Benito.
    This week's attempted mob lynching of Trump's  Vice President on live television leapfrop the Don straight to Four Benitos

    4. Fetishization of youth. Fascist movements, even when led by middle-aged men, always extolled the vigor and promise of youth and made special efforts to appeal to young people. Trump, as a septuagenarian, is ill-positioned here. He has no special youth organization to speak of. His most devoted followers are long in the tooth. Zero Benitos.
    yeah, still zero.  Three of the insurrectionists stroked out just from climbing the steps.  In fact, it seems much of the explanation for the blobby mob's lack of success was the doughy, even Trumplike physique of MAGA generally.

    5. Fetishization of masculinity. Fascists trumpeted what they saw as masculine virtues and supported male authority within family and society, urging women to confine their sphere to home and children (the more of which the better). Trump shares much of this outlook, lauding his own stamina and accusing his female rival, Hillary Clinton, of lacking it. He mocks men whom he deems deficient in virility. But whereas Mussolini liked to hold up his own mother, devoted to home and hearth, as the feminine ideal, Trump’s vision of the proper woman seems to be a supermodel, more in line with Hugh Hefner’s ideology than Mussolini’s. Nonetheless, on swaggering machismo he gets full marks. Four Benitos.

    6. Leader cult. Fascists always looked to a leader who was bold, decisive, manly, uncompromising and cruel when necessary — because the parlous state of the nation required such qualities. Mussolini and Hitler, both veterans of World War I, drew their models of leadership from army officers and worked hard to polish their images as dauntless rulers beholden to no one. They encouraged their followers to idolize them as Il Duce and der Führer. They claimed special insight into the will of the people. Trump, although not a war veteran, fully embraces the cult of the leader. He offers his business experience as evidence of his decisive leadership and is very testy when his business acumen is doubted. He also claims to channel the common man, enjoying a connection all other politicians lack. Four Benitos.

    7. Lost-golden-age syndrome. Italian and German fascism shared a strong commitment to the notion of national rebirth. Mussolini and Hitler encouraged their supporters to believe in lost (or stolen) greatness, in a glorious past. That could be long ago, as with the Roman Empire, which Mussolini liked to invoke, or only a couple of decades prior, as with the German Reich that was, according to Hitler, “stabbed in the back” in 1918. Trump makes this appeal to a golden age the centerpiece of his campaign, assuring audiences that only he can “make America great again.” Four Benitos.

    8. Self-definition by opposition. Fascists defined themselves as the bulwark against various evils and menaces to the nation. Those included communism, routine democratic politics, the traditional conservatism of industrial and agrarian elites (although both Mussolini and Hitler eventually made peace with these elites), and, especially in the German case, foreigners and minorities. Communism is no longer an issue for American politics. But Trump constantly rails against politics as usual, against political correctness, against elites of all kinds (including, curiously, business elites), and he has made a habit of vilifying minorities. He does not advocate their annihilation, as Hitler did. Three Benitos.
    Up that to Four Benitos.  ANTIFA, The Wall, Colin Kaepernick, China Virus.  Trump invents or exaggerates every threat to the maximum degree.

    As a political movement, fascism displayed three further important traits:

    9. Mass mobilization and mass party. Both Mussolini and Hitler rode to power on tidal waves of support that were organized into new political parties. A new party might fit Trump better, but he has not created one. Instead he has made a venerable one, the Grand Old Party, into his vehicle. He likes to refer to his following as a movement, and since the GOP convention in July has rarely tried to brand himself as a Republican. Many in his party loathe him. Two Benitos.
    The Republican mob attack on the Republican-led Senate with the intent of harming a Republican VIce-President led by an ostensibly Republican President demonstrates the completion of Trump's journey to Four Benitos.

    10. Hierarchical party structure and tendency to purge the disloyal. Fascist movements, like revolutions, ate their children. Anyone who displayed only tepid loyalty to the leader or who showed the potential to outshine the leader risked being purged or killed. So did followers who outlived their usefulness. Trump’s campaign shares this tendency toward purges, but the Republican Party under his leadership does not. And violence plays no role. One Benito.
    Like no other politician who pretended at democracy ever.     Four Benitos.

    11. Theatricality. In style and rhetoric, fascism was highly theatrical. Film and audio of Mussolini and Hitler make them seem like clownish buffoons, with their exaggerated gestures, their salutes, their overheated speeches full of absolutes and superlatives. Their rallies evolved into elaborate collective rituals for loyalists. Trump does not strut across stages like a Mussolini, and Nazi-style torchlit parades are out, but his rhetoric fits the fascist style well. He constantly calls things and people the worst or the best ever. His rallies feature repetitive chants. Even his studied frown of disapproval recalls a classic Mussolini pose. Three Benitos.
    Trump's sunlit super-steroidal unmasking on the White House portico should suffice to justify Four Benitos here.


    Add all this up, and you get 26 out of a possible 44 Benitos. In the fascist derby, Trump is a loser. Even Spain’s Francisco Franco and Portugal’s António de Oliveira Salazar might score higher. While there is a strong family resemblance, and with some features an uncanny likeness, Trump doesn’t fit the profile so well on those points where the use of violence is required. Projecting an air of menace at rallies, uttering ambiguous calls for assassinations, tacitly endorsing the roughing-up of protesters, urging the killing of terrorists’ families and whatever else Trump does — while shocking by the standards of American politics — fall far short of the genuinely murderous violence endorsed and unleashed by authentic fascists.
    In a more nuanced approach, we might weight the various traits of fascism differently, but it’s not obvious how best to do so. Hyper-nationalism, for example, is more consequential than the youth fetish and perhaps ought to be taken more seriously. But it is also less distinctively fascist, being common to many types of political regimes. A longer list, too, might add refinement and complexity. But Trump does not do nuance. A crude, quick and flippant assessment is what he deserves. He is semi-fascist: more fascist than any successful American politician yet, and the most dangerous threat to pluralist democracy in this country in more than a century, but — thank our stars — an amateurish imitation of the real thing.
    By my count we are up to about 37 Benitos out of a possible 44.  Trump currently rates a solid B in Fascism. 
  • Death23
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    Trump has far right, authoritarian and nationalist tendencies. Probably more so than all the other big politicians out there. I'm not convinced that how he is rises to the level of being fascist, but it might.
  • ILikePie5
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    Since Trump's kind words to the  Unite the Right Rally at Charlottesville, I suppose most historians would bump Trump's "nationalism" benitos up one benito at least to three benitos.
    Believer of Authority here
  • ILikePie5
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    --> @Jasmine
    Cause Orangeman bad. Free Cheetos for everyone!
  • HistoryBuff
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    Cause Orangeman bad. Free Cheetos for everyone!
    go back and read post 7. that's a pretty good description of how trump is very similar to fascists. 

  • fauxlaw
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    --> @Jasmine
    Because they do not have sufficient personal critical thinking to know what either Trump, or Fascism is. They hear others say it, and just mimic.  Pathetic sock puppets.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @fauxlaw
    We are seeing a return to nationalism in Europe and the United States because it is not clear to many that internationalism, as followed since World War II, benefits them any longer. They may be right or wrong, but to claim that fascism is sweeping Europe and the United States raises the question of whether those who say this understand the principles of fascism or the intimate connection between nationalism and liberal democracy. People can obviously choose democratic nationalism without the tyranny of a dictator.

    Or maybe it's not so obvious to a Marxist still smarting from the casualties of fascism 80 years ago.
  • fauxlaw
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    This attribute is not confined to fascism, but it is central to all fascism. 
    So, admit that the attribute is not exclusive to fascism, but paint it as such, anyway? Sock puppet tactic.

    I suppose most historians would bump Trump's "nationalism"
    See above, speaking of tactis. Also, "...tactics ...is only a small part of generalship. For a general must also be capable of furnishing military equipment and providing supplies for the men; he must be resourceful, active, careful, hardy and quick-witted; he must be both gentle and brutal, at once straightforward and designing, capable of both caution and surprise, lavish and rapacious, generous and mean, skillful in defense and attack; and there are many other qualifications, some natural, some acquired, that are necessary to one who would succeed as a general." -  attributed to Socrates

    Fetishization of youth. 
    Joe Biden, on video, 12/22/2019 - Wilmington, DE, after gathering a bunch of kids around him] "Hey, all the kids... come up here... I want to setr the record straight on a couple of things... I got hairy legs that turned blond in the sun. The kids used to reach into the pool and rub my legs down..." yeah, okay [?]

    Fetishization of masculinity
    Joe Biden - same speech as above "... CornPop was a bad dude... but I was smart, then [as opposed to now?] , I said, 'When I tell ya to get off the [diving] board, ya get off the board..."

    Leader cult
    Trump is a leader. The head of an organization of over 535 companies, of which all of maybe six have been bankrupted by him for weak production. 6 of 535, that's still a 99% success rate. That's no cult; that's the American dream. Sorry you're opposed.

    Lost-golden-age syndrome. 
    So, what is the Progressive's golden age? 1848 - the Marx/Engels publication of the Communist Manifesto. Some golden age. A philosophy that, everywhere tried, has never lasted more than 75 years [USSR], and typically lasts 40 years, because that's what happens when you run out of other peoples' money, and don't know how to create wealth yourself. Not to mention that there is no example of a country that began via Socialism/Communism, because nobody is sufficiently rich to syphon off their wealth to start a nation.

    Self-definition by opposition
    But then you say "Trump invents or exaggerates every threat..." but that's descriptive of the threat, not self-definition, as if threats do not, of their own accord, exaggerate their power.

    Mass mobilization and mass party. 
    Yeah. kind of like when Madison anticipated that the United States would expand and populate, and allowed for that increase to have a system of expanding representation in Congress, based on a Census, which began in 1790. Was that fascist?

    Hierarchical party structure and tendency to purge the disloyal. 
    Hmmm? Article I, Article II, Article III... Article I, sec. 21, sec. 3, Article II, sec. 4... so, the US Constitution is fascist?

    Theatricality
    Reagan? A fascist? Lincoln, assassinated by an actor? Lincoln calling America "the last best hope of earth" was just fascist rhetoric?

    The fascist derby
    Let's see.... Socrates, Joe Biden, the American Dream, Marx/Engels, Madison, Reagan, and Lincoln, and the Constitution all fit the fascist bill. You said it, I didn't. or, maybe not, after all. Yeah, seems exaggerated to me, too.
  • fauxlaw
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    I'd say you latter point carries the day
  • Greyparrot
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    I guess to a Marxist, every nail is a fascist.
  • Tradesecret
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    And Lenin? 
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    --> @Jasmine
    Trump would unknowingly, like to be a dictator.

    But I don't think that he's clever enough to be a fascist.

    Anyway....Too many guns in America.

    And it's not the puppet, but the string pullers that you need to consider.
  • Greyparrot
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    And it's not the puppet, but the string pullers that you need to consider.

    Sometimes, it takes 535 Tyrants to run a large country. Lord knows Lenin had his delegation.
  • zedvictor4
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    Somebody had to do all the torturing and murdering.



  • Greyparrot
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    What would count as fascism in your opinion?

    Probably a similar interpretation of the word "racist" today.
    Anything that makes your spidey sense tingle.
  • drafterman
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    Why do you avoid serious questions?
  • Greyparrot
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    What part of post 6 do you disagree with assuming you disagree at all, which would be a mistake on my part.
  • drafterman
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    Fascism asserts that Hitler or Mussolini represent the people but are not answerable to them. The core of fascism is the idea of the dictator, who emerges through his own will. He cannot be challenged without betraying the people. Therefore, free speech and opposition parties are banned and those who attempt to oppose the regime are treated as criminals. Fascism without the dictator, without the elimination of elections, without suppression of free speech and the right to assemble, isn’t fascism.
    While not officially done away with, Trump has developed a cult of personality that is formed not from any sort of acumen or skill, but through his own will. Any challenge to Trump has been treated as abject betrayal. He has done this time and time again: if you praise or defend Trump, you are honorable and good, and if you criticize him, it is fake news, a betrayal, etc. One need go no further than this than his constant flip flopping of Fox News based on how favorable (or not) they were being of him at any given point in time. The weeks after the election are almost comical in his continue denouncing of news platforms that accepted the results in favor of Biden, whittling down outlet after outlet that eventually gave in, leaving only the most extreme fringe of outlets in his favor.

    He has openly speculated as to whether the unfavorable news against him and the tagging of his posts as spreading misinformation is actionable and, if not, whether legislation should be drafted to make it actionable.

    And, lastly, he has done everything in his power to try and overturn the fair and proper election of Joe Biden. He has filed suit after suit, called politicians to ignore votes, generate votes that aren't there, to ignore electors, to undo certifications, to stop counting votes when it favored him, to continue counting votes when it didn't, and, finally, encouraging people to actually come to the Capital itself to somehow interfere with the Congressional certification of the vote.

    So he solidly gets a check in the "Fascist" column for this. And while he might not check all the boxes, it's silly to deny there is no overlap here or that the main thing preventing the Trump administration from actually being fascist is it's completely inability to actually get what it wants done.
  • FLRW
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    One year ago, I warned that Trump was descending into naked authoritarianism. Low-information commenters seek to reassure rather than dig deeply, telling readers to look on the bright side. That the US is an exceptional country.
    It is not.
    Democratic regression and political polarization are not unique to the US. Having more guns than people is. So are militias, usually formed of lower- and middle-class white Americans harboring anti-government sentiments. The threat posed by these anti-government extremists — though not necessarily terrorists — was thrown into relief when at least 13 of Michigan’s Wolverine Militia were arrested for planning to kidnap, “judge,” and potentially execute for treason the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer.