Day 28: Is this really the rise of American fascism? (7/7 on Donald Trump)

The 45th (and perhaps last?) President of the United States

We’ve seen it everywhere: from Vox’s claim that authoritarianism is on the rise to Cracked’s frightening comparisons between our president and the infamous former chancellor of Germany.

Personally? I don’t know… but I am questioning it.

I think the better question to ask is: how would you know?

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too hard to read.”
-Groucho Marx

Did the citizens of Germany, Japan, or Italy know they were in a fascist society in the 1930s? Were the people of Cold War era Soviet Union or China aware they were in a totalitarian society?

Is the use of ‘fascism’ mutually agreed upon across societies, or is it all propaganda? After this last election, I’m inclined to think designations of fascism are applied more for political than academic intentions.

Most importantly: is it possible to know that you’re in a fascist society … if you support it? First, let’s go with a classic definition of fascism. I’m going with the first one from Merriam-Webster:

“a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”

Let’s break this down into a list, because lists are awesome:

Fascism is defined by:

  1. The exaltation of nation (and race) above the individual
  2. A centralized, autocratic government with a dictatorial leader
  3. Severe economic and social regimentation
  4. Forcible suppression of opposition

Analysis: Despite a very … eventful start to this administration, I think it’s too early to say. Presidents often start their first term by executing their agenda, laying out 100 day plans and what not.

In truth, they get at least 18 months to govern, right until midterm elections begin to distract politicians from their duties and back to their constituents.

To me, what defines a fascist government is how it responds to its dissenters. The Women’s March on January 21 did not aim to reverse decisions or start a revolution, but to assert that the rest of the county needed to be heard.

Were the participants suppressed, dismissed, or acknowledged? 
If they suppress, we must resist. 
If they dismiss, we must insist. 
If they acknowledge, we must respect.

As difficult as the task may be, we must pay attention to our government now more than ever. My hope is that the Trump administration will honor his promise on election night to represent all Americans. Past presidents have understood the importance of compromise — will this one?

Otherwise, they’ll have to deal with an opposition that will continue to exercise its voice and create headaches for months to come.

Until they take that right away, too. If this is indeed the rise of American fascism, we must take action to abate it before we no longer can.

“Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only are the gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the ‘us-es.’ The ‘us-es’ will give up.” — Harvey Milk

-Lee

PS: If you got this far and have read all 7 of my posts this week on Trump — thank you! I hope it was helpful for you as it was for me to work through some of these feelings and ideas. Cheers!