I believe we have a far greater chance of controlling the conditions that give rise to fascism than defeating fascists after they’ve risen.
That seems intuitively obvious, but many seem to find it radical.
It is for this reason that, as a liberal, I have been so angry with the Democratic Party’s needless centrism. Years ago, Bill Clinton put the modern Democratic Party on a path that was beholden to corporate America. We accepted it as a necessity in exchange for a leader in favor of social change. We were told that was the best we could hope for or this country would remain Reagan’s America. Does that mean Dems were just as bad as GOP? Not to me, but this centrist model persisted throughout Barack Obama’s administration and was promised to continue through Hillary’s even when the GOP was so fractured and without message that an anti-Washington chaos candidate became their nominee.
The end result of Clinton’s alliance with Corporate America over the Dem’s traditional worker base was a vanishing middle class. That’s not just a buzz word. It’s a fact. Back in 1960, the top 20% maintained about 80% of the nation’s wealth. Today the top 1% controls 90% of the wealth. That’s what happens when you have a Fed patrolled by former Goldman Sachs employees; you have no Glass Steagall which was enacted after the first Depression and successfully kept us out of another until after its removal under Clinton; you have an AG who sent no one to prison for the rampant Wall St. fraud years back. But keep in mind, while these policies made the middle class disappear, it left their anger. And people do bad things when they’re angry.
The elite can tweet their mockery, rolling their eyes at the existence of “economic anxiety.” They can pretend that the more rational explanation for Hillary’s loss is that the same country that elected a black man suddenly became much more racist and hateful. They can point to statistics on the unemployment rate, ignoring all those not counted by those stats, or those not increasing in salary, or those working for less. Most people I know are still hurting. And I’m a candy-assed, two degree-holding suburban New Yorker. Imagine those who had their salaries halved after starting with less. Or people working extra jobs to make the same. Or those earning the same who expected to make more as their kids approached college.
My generation’s simplistic notion that we just elect a Democrat and trust that he or she will get us as much liberalism as is practical is dead. It is an unsupported act of faith. When both parties are beholden ever increasingly to the 1% it is nothing short of bizarre to pretend that Dems would do more for progressive values if only it weren’t for that GOP. Sure, the Dems can afford to be on the right side of issues such as abortion and gay marriage because it costs them nothing. Indeed, the majority of this country believed in gay marriage before the Dems felt safe saying so. But there is no reason to believe that the GOP sets the limits on economic issues. Both parties are hampered by their rich benefactors preventing real change and sowing more discontent from increasingly angry people willing to do something terrible like elect a fascist for change.
Now we as liberals and patriots must make sure we do whatever we can to say no to unchecked aggression, bigotry, and unconstitutional activity in a way we’ve certainly failed to do in the last eight years. But if we defeat this fascist without fundamentally changing the Democratic Party, we’ll just be up against a new fascist every four years. Even worse, the next one might even contain an intellect and craftiness beyond Trump’s, which can’t be too hard. The conditions that foster fascism must be forever changed or the toxic earth of economic inequity will continually give rise to endless threats.
If you’re a liberal, the GOP are your enemy on most issues and I don’t expect that to change, especially not among their Tea party and Alt-Right factions, but they are not all of America. And while we probably can’t cure hateful party leaders of their evil, we can say no to the conditions that let such leaders gain an angry horde of hungry followers.