Here are 10 reasons why President Donald Trump may be a fascist.
1. He’s hyper-nationalistic. “I’m a total nationalist,” he said recently. And his slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is a device for stirring up nationalism.
2. He’s hyper-militaristic. He has proposed a huge increase in military spending, he vows to make our nuclear arsenal “top of the pack,” he pledges to start winning wars, and he has more generals in senior positions than any president since Ulysses S. Grant.
3. He scapegoats minorities. On the campaign trail, he vilified Mexicans and Muslims. As president, his Muslim ban and his immigration policy enshrine this scapegoating — and deprive millions of people of due process. Note that his executive order on immigration said that ICE agents can deport not only anyone who has committed any crime but also anyone “charged” with a crime or even “chargeable” — whatever that means.
4. He’s a flagrant liar. The brazenness of his lies — about the size of his inaugural crowd, about millions of illegal votes for Hillary Clinton, about the crime rate, and on and on — is straight out of George Orwell.
5. He savagely attacks the media. Calling the media “the enemy of the people” is the trademark of a dictator. Barring The New York Times, CNN, and other media organizations shows how disdainful he is of the Fourth Estate — and of the norms of democratic governance.
6. He’s going after the judiciary. This is another institution he’s been attacking, with his notorious assault on Federal Judge James Robart, “the so-called judge” in Washington state who ruled against his Muslim ban. Trump then heaped scorn on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — and his adviser, Stephen Miller, evidently never having heard of Marbury v. Madison, said on TV, “There is no such thing as judicial supremacy.” Trump applauded his performance.
7. He allies with the corporate sector. Wall Street has been delighted with Trump. He has Wall Street titans in his Cabinet, and he has the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state.
8. He has a leader of the far right by his side. Having Steve Bannon, for instance, as his senior adviser and chief strategist, is a very dangerous sign. An ultra-nationalist who enflamed prejudice when he ran Breitbart News, Bannon holds the highest position in the White House that any far rightist has ever held.
9. He curries favor with a mass base. Trump has a sturdy support of around 40 percent of the population, and he speaks directly to millions of them on Twitter and by email. Look for more mass rallies like the one he had in Florida in the weeks and months to come.
10. He’s a bully who views himself in grandiose terms. He hasn’t stopped his name-calling, which was his stock-in-trade during the primaries (still dubbing Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”). And he seems to enjoy picking on people weaker than he is. At a meeting of sheriffs in the White House, one of them complained about a state senator in Texas who had introduced a bill this sheriff didn’t like, and Trump responded: Give me the person’s name and we’ll destroy the senator’s career. Who thinks like that? And, of course, he believes he’s God’s gift. “I alone can fix” things, he said during the campaign, and he’s constantly bragging about how great he is.
Fortunately, civil society is not rolling over for Trump. I’m heartened by the resistance so far: from the mainstream media, from the judiciary, and from a few in his own party (like John McCain and George W. Bush). Most importantly, people at the grass-roots are resisting by the millions, as we saw with the women’s marches and the pro-immigrant rallies.
This resistance needs to continue. It’s our best hope. And let’s have fun doing it. As Howard Zinn once said: “To live now as we think beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which just published on its website a handy resource, “Fascism: A Guide for Study and Resistance,” www.wisdc.org/fascism.php.
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