American Fascism

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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It’s way past time to call Trumpism what it is: American fascism.

In 1922, Benito Mussolini rendezvoused with his democracy-despising Blackshirt goons in Rome. The “March on Rome” toppled Italy’s hard-pressed constitutional monarchy and made Mussolini dictator of Italy. 

Today, the Trumpian bully boys had their “March on Washington.” They rioted, stormed, overran, and vandalized the Capitol, terrorizing lawmakers. But the republic will survive, and Trump will stay stuck in the dictator-wannabe stage.

Scholar-writer-pundit Tom Nichols cut loose on the mob. “To the anti-anti-Trumpers who told the Never Trump people that we were overreacting, that we were being alarmist and silly, that our objections to Trump were elitist and out of touch and ‘aesthetic:’ F*** every one of you,” he tweeted.

I get it. “Anti-anti-Trumpers” chastised this old history prof for daring to suggest that a ton of hard-core Trumpers were a lot like Il Duce’s Blackshirts and were similarly impervious to logic, reason, and civil discourse.

“Anti-anti-Trumpers” chastised this old history prof for daring to suggest that a ton of hard-core Trumpers were a lot like Il Duce’s Blackshirts and were similarly impervious to logic, reason, and civil discourse.Click To Tweet

Some of my fellow liberals denounced me as an “elitist,” too, though my wife and I dwelt in a modest wood-frame house in the small-town, working-class neighborhood in which I grew up.

Ever-Trumpers are a hefty majority in western Kentucky, where I’ve lived all my 71 years. Few, if any, are a “fertile mission field” — an old Baptist term — for liberal evangelizing. They’re not promising candidates for a Road to Damascus experience either.

“You are the biggest unAmerican I know in Western Kentucky?” a Trumper emailed a retired teacher who writes a liberal-leaning column for a local paper. “Your articles show you are a damn Socialist, Abortion loving ass?? Are you proud of Nancy, Nadler and Schiff?? How about those Crooked Clintons?? You love the Illegal Aliens?? Open Borders?? I don’t blame you for hateing Trump. He has America back on Track after 8 years of the Obama disaster. You should be ashamed of yourself. How about Moving to Cuba or Venezuela?? That is what Democrats produce.”

I wonder what conversion therapy my (and Nichols’) liberal detractors might try on this spelling-challenged Trumpian. 

Apparently, liberals got the idea of “witnessing” — another Baptist standby — to the Trump faithful right after he got elected, mostly by white folks. Many in the media, struggling to interpret Trump’s win, mainly concluded that most whites voted for the Yankee George Wallace out of economic anxiety.

So all we liberals had to do was to show these misguided souls that they’d enjoy more job security, plus better pay, benefits, and working conditions with Democrats in charge (which they would).

I never believed that dog would hunt. I suspected Trump meant for a slew of whites to read “Make America Great Again” as “Make America White Again.” A slew did. 

Scholars dug deeper into the election results, conducted scientific studies, and concluded that racial resentment was indeed the main motivator for most Trump supporters. Click herehere, and here.

Trump flags and Confederate flags flew — some still do — in tandem hereabouts.

Anyway, Frank Rich nailed the futility of trying to make Never Trumpers of Ever Trumpers. “There’s no way liberals can counter these voters’ blind faith in a huckster who’s sold them this snake oil,” he wrote in New York magazine not long after Trump was inaugurated. “The notion that they can be won over by some sort of new New Deal — ‘domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance),’ as [political scientist] Mark Lilla puts it — is wishful thinking. These voters are so adamantly opposed to government programs that in some cases they refuse to accept the fact that aid they already receive comes from Washington — witness the ‘Keep Government Out of My Medicare!’ placards at the early tea-party protests.”

Elsewhere in his essay, Rich warned that it’s “a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. They will stick with him even though the numbers say that they will take a bigger financial hit than Clinton voters under the Republican health-care plan. As Trump himself has said, in a rare instance of accuracy, they won’t waver even if he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. While you can’t blame our new president for loving ‘the poorly educated’ who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.”

But today in DC, “us” surprisingly included Trumpian lawmakers eagerly doing Il Donald’s bidding by trying to derail the electoral vote count that will make Joe Biden president. Even as they did Trump’s work, they hunkered down with the Dems when the Trump mob showed up. For them, perhaps, all the Ever-Trumper rhetoric was just a facade.

For others, though, it is very real. Tom Nichols points it out, including the “fool’s errand” of trying to reach Trump voters with New Deal rhetoric.

Call it what it is: American Fascism.

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