For some time, we have seen things happen in the United States that we never really imagined would or could happen. Actions and policies that once would have been unthinkable have become reality – and for some on the right, acceptable.
Right-wing Republican legislators across the country continue to enact and interpret laws that move closer and closer to authoritarianism, or even fascism. In addition, a segment of voters support them in doing so. With that support, those same Republican officials could, over time, enact even more laws that create and enforce a fascist state.
If one studies the Holocaust, one is struck by both the gradual introduction of such laws, and the acceptance of them by the general population. Once the “undesirables” had been identified across the population, the logical next step was to regulate, and eventually eliminate, such undesirables.
And before anyone gets upset at the comparison with Hitler’s Germany, hear this: Germany’s and Italy’s slides into fascism are the most famous, but they’re not the only ones – not by a longshot. It has happened throughout history, and is still happening: today we have Hungary under Orban, Turkey under Erdoĝan, and India under Modi. Each of these were once full-fledged democracies, and each of them is becoming more and more fascist every year.
Here, then, is my question for today: What would such a future look like in the United States? What laws would be passed? What groups would be put down, and what groups would be lifted up? It’s too easy to simply say “we are becoming fascist;” we need to lay out the possible steps along the way.
What follows is a list of laws that could be enacted in the future, if our slide into authoritarianism is not stopped. The list is completely out of my imagination, as I considered the question “What could happen?” But I think it is fair to say that I am not imagining today’s trends that could lead to these laws.
I am not saying any of them are definitely going to happen, or are even likely. The list is merely a way to paint a picture of a United States that has moved ever further into being an anocracy (part democracy, part authoritarian), or even a full-blown autocracy or fascist nation.
- Remove all regulations on firearms and firearms dealers.
- Mandate that all teachers carry a gun in the classroom.
- Mandate that all students over 16 receive training in using a pistol, and be allowed to carry a gun inside a school without a permit.
- Require that any woman of child-bearing age who is crossing a state line must pull into a roadside kiosk, provide the reason for the trip, and receive a re-entry pass. On the return trip, the woman must produce the re-entry pass in order to enter the state.
- Require the same for leaving the state on any other form of transportation.
- Outlaw all forms of medication-based birth control.
- Outlaw all birth control.
Voting, elections, and legislators
- Require that all voters provide two forms of government-issued photo ID, such as driver's license and passport. Without two such ID cards, you would not be allowed to vote.
- Limit voting to in-person only, and only on election day.
- Require voters on election day to stand in lines by party registration.
- Limit the number of persons allowed to vote to 50% of registered voters, thus reducing the number of polling places.
- Increase gerrymandering and cracking of districts to the point that almost all districts will be won by Republicans.
- Remove the two-term limit on the presidency.
- Remove legislators who criticize any political leader of the majority party.
- Ban all political parties that are not one of the big 2.
- Ban all political parties except the GOP.
- Require all regulations by a Democratic governor be approved by the legislature.
- Require all environmental regulations be approved by the relevant Chamber of Commerce.
- Mandate that all environmental regulations require a 2/3 approval by voters.
- Remove all laws that prevent monopolies.
- Outlaw all unions.
- Outlaw gay couples from having children, either naturally or by adoption.
- Have Child Protective Services remove the existing children of gay couples or singles.
- Outlaw any form of trans-gender appearance or reality.
- Reinstitute sodomy laws and punishments.
- Strip LGBTQ people of the right to vote.
- Forbid LGBTQ from teaching in public schools and universities.
- Allow lobbyists and corporations to give any amount of cash or other gifts to legislators and judges.
- Remove ethics violations from laws governing elected officials.
- Disband ethics boards for governmental bodies (executive, legislative, judicial).
- Outlaw street protests by any group larger than three people.
- Require a prayer by (only) a Christian pastor to open all governmental meetings at all levels, including committees.
- Make it much easier to sue media for libel.
- Make Fox News a government-funded media outlet.
- Make it a crime to criticize elected officials.
- Eliminate habeas corpus.
- Increase prison sentences and limit parole.
- Require all teachers and professors to report their political party to their supervisors and governing boards.
- Create a separate national police organization that reports directly to the president.
The genesis for this article was a piece by Thom Hartmann on what a fascist government in control of America would look like. I strongly encourage you to read Hartmann’s work; it is both entirely plausible and definitely sobering.
At one time, I thought the first step had to be the appearance of the “strong leader” required by authoritarianism or fascism, before any of the rest of it began happening. I now think the other is more likely: an authoritarian/fascist movement gains even more ground in states across the country, and the strong leader rises in response.
Thus, it behooves us not to mince words, or to be scared of being impolite. If an action by elected officials is moving us toward authoritarianism or fascism, we must call it out. If a group is being made into “undesirables,” we must stand with them and for them. And we must remind others that the fight to retain our democracy crosses party lines, and is more important than any one policy.
We have a democracy today – but tomorrow is not guaranteed. Let us be the watchers in the crow’s next, the canaries in the coal mine, on guard for anti-democratic laws and people at every level. Let us do the work to keep our democracy.