It’s slowly dawning to political writers that Trump represents nothing less than the rise of fascism, intentionally or not. For instance, here is digby writing for Salon:
“But ask yourself when was the last time you heard Republicans using the “F” word against someone running in their own party? I can’t remember it happening in decades… The CNN story goes on to interview various scholars who all say that to one degree or another Trump is, indeed, fascistic if not what we used to call “a total fascist.” Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back.” (The Perlstein piece is dated Sept. 30, 2015.)
Well, not to toot my own horn… well ok, I’m tooting that bitch for all it’s got, but anyway, here is my post comparing Trump to fascists from August 22, over a month before Perlstein. I was specifically comparing The Donald to the fascist or fascist-leaning parties in Europe such as France’s National Front or the Sweden Democrats, as well as the vaguely proto-fascist Know Nothings from our own history. My key point was this:
It is impossible to resist immigration in Western cultures without being labeled a racist, bigoted fascist. Therefore, in order to oppose immigration, even regular people must throw in with the real fascists.
Because just as Europe’s far-right parties have unsavory origins, the meteoric rise of Trump really began when he attracted the attention of America’s white-nationalist alt.Right, as I noted clear back in July. (Where’s that horn of mine again?)
It goes like this. Non-fascist people who are otherwise ordinary citizens are concerned about immigration. They correctly observe that the mainstream parties of their country are all pro-immigration, even the conservative ones. The mainstream conservative party might mouth some platitudes in their direction, but at the end of the day, they are just as committed to high levels of immigration from Third World countries as their liberal counterparts, if perhaps for different reasons. Such ordinary people try not to protest too loudly, lest they be smacked down with the charge of racism.
But then, something happens to bring the immigration issue to a head. Perhaps a terrorist attack. Or a particularly charismatic anti-immigration leader emerges. Or perhaps they are simply sick of their government appearing to care more about immigrants than about native-born working poor like themselves. Whatever the case, they finally make the break, stop fearing the dreaded R-word, and start voting for the local fascist party.
This changes things on both ends. For one, the fascist party learns to stop being scary and start acting more like a regular party, as National Front, Sweden Democrats and their ilk have slowly learned to do. But far more worrying is how it cuts the other way: as regular folk mingle with the white supremacists, it becomes more likely that they fall in with the latter, and the alt.Right’s ranks swell.
This has been how extremist political movements have grown throughout history. If the mainstream parties ignore voters’ concerns, then eventually they will give up and turn to the fringes.
There remains the question of whether Donald Trump the man has always been a secret fascist, or whether he just happened to stumble upon this role and is opportunistically running with it. But that’s really just an academic question. What matters is Trump is threatening to turn one of our two political parties into Jobbik, and politicians and writers should be asking themselves why this was possible.