Trump and Fascism

Should Donald Trump be classified as a fascist?

donald-trump-microphoneA popular subject for discussion of late has been that of the relationship between Donald Trump and fascism.  Indeed, Doug Mataconis noted the topic here at OTB recently.  I have been meaning to write on this topic since at least before Thanksgiving, but like James Joyner, my blogging is not what it used to be.

In any event, there has been a legitimate question about whether Trump represents a fascism in some capacity.  I will confess to finding him unsettling (his broad targeting of groups of people, whether it be Mexicans, the Chinese, or Muslims is disconcerting to say the least).  I think it is wholly accurate to state that he is running a blatantly racist campaign.  Further, the nationalism that pervades his approach is explicitly wrapped up in racial identity (where the “us” is rather implicitly white, and the “them” are non-white).  He also appeals to his special leadership abilities as well as to a vague sense of lost national greatness.  At a minimum he is right-wing populist and nationalist who embraces a mixture of 19th Century Know-Nothingism with a significant splash of modern European ultra-nationalism (à la the Le Pens).

The question becomes, however, is he a fascist?  (Spoiler:  ultimately, no–but he is concerning nonetheless).

Fascism is not the easiest term to define owing, in large part, to the fact that it was not well defined even by those who practiced it.  It also lacks a firm philosophical foundation (it borrows from here and there, but there is nothing like Marxism, for example, upon which fascism is built).

To make cogent application of the term even more problematic, the term (alongside “Nazi”) has long been nothing more than a political epithet, rather than a useful term for discussion (if you want to insult someone in politics, it doesn’t get much better than “fascist” or “Nazi”).

I defined the term as follows in 30 Second Politics:

Fascism is a totalitarian, nationalistic governing philosophy that has its origins in Italy under Benito Mussolini and also emerged in different forms in Adolph Hitler’s Germany and Francisco Franco’s Spain. It is an illiberal regime type, insofar as it denies the significance and rights of the individual and expects citizens to function together in a corporate fashion for the glory of the state. Fascism is defined as much by what it opposes as what it supports: it is anti-modern, anti-rationality, anti-democratic, and vehemently anti-communist. Fascism is also militaristic and espouses an imperialistic, expansionistic foreign policy. The use of military symbolism as a means of underscoring the importance and power of the state is a common staple of fascist governments.

Nazism is a variation of fascism, which I defined as follows:

A variant of fascism, Nazism was a totalitarian ideology that mixed extreme nationalism with racism and military expansionism. The word Nazi derives from an abbreviation of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), which was the party of Adolph Hitler when he was appointed to the Chancellorship in 1933. Once in power, the Nazis governed Germany as a one-party totalitarian state. The Nazi ideology was illiberal, antiSemitic, anti-Marxist, and stridently nationalist. A key element of Hitler’s Nazism was the notion that the Germanic people should be united into one empire (Reich).

Now, again, the book in question was called, in full, 30-Second Politics: The 50 Most Thought-Provoking Theories in Politics, Each Explained in Half a Minute, so we are hardly talking about comprehensive, deep definitions.  Still, the above does provide a basis for discussion:  fascism is very much in opposition to other modes of thought and their key concepts.   

A good place to focus, however, is the notion of what fascism opposes and what it supports.  To that end we can jump to a useful piece at Vox (yes, I know) by Dylan Matthews which is summation of interviews with five experts on the subject.  The piece talks about several factors, and is worth reading in full.  Let me note two, which is fascism’s opposition to democracy and its embrace of violence.

In regards to anti-democracy:

Every expert I spoke to identified support for the revolutionary overthrow — ideally through violence — of the state’s entire system of government as a necessary characteristic of fascism. Griffin’s preferred definition of fascism is:

Fascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism.

The word “palingenetic” means rebirth, reflecting Griffin’s view that fascism must involve calling for the “rebirth” of the nation. That might at first glance sound like Trump’s promise to “make America great again,” but Griffin insists on a distinction. Rebirth, in his theory, actually requires the dramatic abandonment of the existing political order. “There has to be a longing for a new order, a new nation, not just a reformed old nation,” he told me. “As long as Trump does not advocate the abolition of America’s democratic institutions, and their replacement by some sort of post-liberal new order, he’s not technically a fascist.”

Trump is not campaigning against the constitution, democratic principles, nor the nature of the regime (nor do I think he has a secret plan in this realm).  He is not promising something new.  I will allow that his basic message is reactionary:  a promise to return to a better past.  However, he is doing do within the confines of the existing system (when Mussolini made promised about restoring Italy, he alluded to the Roman Empire; when Hitler made promises is was a about an imagined past where the race all were in proper balance).

The above, by the way, also gets to the core of why it drives me crazy when people claim that Hitler is an example of an elected official who used charisma to get elected and then subvert democracy.  Not only was Hitler never elected, his party (along with several others in Weimar Germany) were explicitly anti-regime and promised to create something wholly new that was not democracy.

(There is more on this topic at the Vox link).

Mussolini (with the help of Giovanni Gentle) described fascism’s views on democracy thusly (emphasis mine):

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage….

Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of “happiness” and indefinite progress….

…given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority…a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State….

In regards to violence:

Fascism, Payne says, requires “a philosophical valuing of violence, of Sorelian violence. [Fascists believe] that violence is really good for you, that it’s the sort of thing that makes you a vital, alive, dedicated person, that it creates commitment. You make violence not just a political strategy but a philosophical principle. That’s unique to fascism.”

Donald Trump did inspire the beating of a homeless man in Boston, and a protester was punched at one of his rallies, and his reaction to each case was appalling. But that’s a far cry from the violence-as-philosophical-commitment that characterized fascists. Further still are his pronouncements that he wants to build a military so strong “we never have to use it.”

Fascists were certainly never shy about using military power to inflict violence. As Mussolini put it in his 1932 essay “The Doctrine of Fascism,” “Fascism … discards pacifism as a cloak for cowardly supine renunciation in contradistinction to self-sacrifice. War alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets the seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it.”

Trump certainly engages in bullying at his events and he talks about US military action quite a lot (but that is hardly unique to Trump in American politics–his views on dealing with ISIS are relatively mainstream within the GOP).

Mussolini described fascism’s views on war and peace thusly (emphasis mine):

Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision — the alternative of life or death….

There is more at the Vox piece on individualism and economics, but I will leave those for the reader to pursue as they will.

Beyond the Vox piece, I would very much recommend a piece by Dave Neiwert from a week or so ago:  Donald Trump May Not Be a Fascist, But He is Leading Us Merrily Down That Path.  The Niewert piece is long and thoughtful and is a combination of application of scholarship on fascism and a discussion of elements of American right-wing populism that feeds into the Trump phenomenon.  This is already a very long post, so I will not attempt a point-by-point excerpting of the piece, but will instead recommend it while pointing to his conclusion:

All of which underscores the central fact: Donald Trump may not be a fascist, but his vicious brand of right-wing populism is not just empowering the latent fascist elements in America, he is leading a whole nation of followers merrily down a path that leads directly to fascism.

[…]

America, thanks to Trump, has now reached that fork in the road where it must choose down which path its future lies – with democracy and its often fumbling ministrations, or with the appealing rule of plutocratic authoritarianism, ushered in on a tide of fascistic populism. For myself, I remain confident that Americans will choose the former and demolish the latter – that Trump’s candidacy will founder, and the tide of right-wing populism will reach its high-water mark under him and then recede with him.

[…]

Trump may not be fascist, but he is empowering their existing elements in American society; even more dangerously, his Tea Party brand of right-wing populism is helping them grow their ranks, along with their potential to recruit, by leaps and bounds. Not only that, he is making all this thuggery and ugliness seem normal. And that IS a serious problem.

I think this basically correct:  Trump is not himself a fascist but his approach and appeal has fascistic elements that are quite concerning.  He is not running an anti-regime, anti-democracy campaign.  He is not building a paramilitary apparatus as a means of spreading violence as a political tool (nor is he preaching war for war’s sake/as a means of national greatness).

He is a demagogue. He is using clear racist (if not eliminationist) rhetoric.  He does represent an ugly part of American politics.  I just don’t think he is a fascist.  This matter for two reasons.  One is simply accuracy–it matters that we use proper language.  The second is that since “fascist” is so often used as an epithet in our politics, that using the term could allow Trump and his supporters to deflect criticism from truly odious elements of his campaign.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    “Populist demagogue” seems to be the best descriptor of Trump, at least in my view. What’s ironic is that his political philosophy–if something as simplistic as his bombast can be called a philosophy–is that it embodies so much that’s anathema to the self-styled “principled conservatives” who adore him. He’s one hundred percent in favor of the Kelo decision, for example, a position that, if his last name were Rubio, Perry, Fiorina, Bush, Walker, Paul, Perry, etc., would have the principled conservatives calling for him to be boiled in oil. He’s a thrice-married man who conducted a flagrantly adulterous affair with the woman who became his second wife, refers to attractive women as “young and good looking piece[s] of ass,” and to women less favored (in his view) as dogs, slobs, and pigs. You would think this would have the socons up in arms. But no.

  2. Pch101 says:

    I don’t care for Trump, but fascism has a rather specific meaning (a corporatist state in which various syndicates are used to support the dictatorship) and he doesn’t match that description.

    The “fascist” labeling is as needless as the right-wing obsession with “radical Islam.” Forcing a debate over whether or not he is a fascist distracts from the indisputable fact that nativism within the GOP is commonplace, not just limited to him.

  3. Gustopher says:

    I don’t see how he could implement all of his racist goals without implementing fascism, or fascism-lite, along the way.

    To deport 11 million illegal immigrants, you’re going to need a pretty big infrastructure. To watch every Muslem in the country, you’re going to need a big infrastructure.

    In the end, it may be a distinction without a difference, when we live in a police state, with restricted rights, and constant government monitoring. It’s a little like correcting someone who says “can I…” rather than “may I…” Words have meaning, and sometimes the meaning changes.

    Anyway, labels aside, it doesn’t seem like a good place to be.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Funny enough, I read this this morning:

    In another essay on war, Merton argues that it is not really true that war happens when reasoned argument breaks down; it is more that “reason” has been used in such a way that it subtly and inevitably moves us towards war. In his great 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language”,

    Orwell is clear that linguistic degeneration is both the product and the generator of economic and political decadence. And if so, the critique of this degeneration is not a matter of “sentimental archaism” but an urgent political affair. Like Merton, he identifies the stipulative definition as one of the main culprits: a word that ought to be descriptive, and so discussable, comes to be used evaluatively. “Fascism” means “politics I/we don’t like”; “democracy” means “politics I/we do like”. “Consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.” This is really just a symptom of a deeper malaise. Vagueness, mixed metaphor, ready-made phrases, “gumming together long strips of words”, pseudo‑technical language are ways of avoiding communication. And those whose interest is in avoiding communication are those who do not want to be replied to or argued with.

    The word “fascism” really has lost all meaning in the discussions of today. Call somebody a fascist and you have insulted them, whether the word fits doesn’t even matter any more (shades of Jonah Goldberg anyone?). And the exact same can be said for “democracy”. Ever hear of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”? Yeah, right. Or to hit a little closer to home, look at the “democracy” we set up in Iraq. At it’s most basic level, it’s a democracy, but it really is nothing more than a Shiite state and the Sunni’s are sh!te out of luck.

    Some words are just better off retired from the English language.

    ps: hope this comment makes sense, having mouse difficulties (copy paste) I think it does

  5. James Joyner says:

    Trump isn’t sufficiently ideologically coherent to be a Fascist. He’s basically just a blowhard who says things that appeal to a frustrated electorate.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    A fascist? I don’t think so. I think he’s a prototypical demagogue.

    He knows that much of public is receptive to a blustery, extremely confident “straight talking,” “tell it like it is,” candidate. Combine his phony self-made man persona and his reality show celebrity CEO status with our modern 24/7 infotainment-based social and traditional media … and you get a seemingly ‘popular’ candidacy.

  7. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: While I was living in South Korea, the post office workers who were helping a friend send me packages asked if my friend was sure that he should be sending the package to South Korea considering that it was North Korea that had Democratic in its official name on two or three separate occasions.

    Funny when you think about it–but not really…

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Trump is acting the part of 21st Century American proto-fascist. While many among the wealthy industrialists of the early 20th Century greatly praised fascist Germany, Italy and Japan, those sentiments were no longer publicly acceptable after World War II. Trump is expressing an amorphous ideology (model of how the world works or should work) that takes us back in that direction without explicitly being fascistic.

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    The best answer to this question is this Daily Show sketch. It´s simply too perfect.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FPrJxTvgdQ

  10. bk says:
  11. @Andre Kenji: That is an excellent sketch (perhaps the best thing Noah has done on the show thus far).

  12. Kari Q says:

    When people are debating whether a candidate technically meets the definition of “fascist” or not, I think that’s all you really need to know about them.

  13. Jenos Idanian says:

    Scott Adams, who is turning out to be one of the most innovative thinkers I’ve ever encountered, did the unthinkable and found a widely-accepted definition of fascism and applied it as a test for Trump — and it failed miserably.

    I’ve figured out why so many liberals are wetting their pants over Trump. I see two big factors here.

    1) Every time they attack Trump, every time they hear something else bad about him, they rejoice because they think that this is finally the One Thing that’ll finish him off, it blows up in their faces. They tell everyone yet again what a horrible person Trump is, and his poll numbers go even higher. Haven’t you figured out yet that the more you attack him, the stronger he gets? Do you really need me to repeat the classic definition of insanity?

    2) Obama has been an incredibly autonomous president. He’s repeatedly flouted laws that he finds inconvenient, and freely threatens to unilaterally rewrite and ignore laws and Constitutional restrictions when he deems it necessary. When people have criticized that, they’ve been insulted and denounced and mocked by the Obama cheerleaders, who find it wonderful. The biggest danger of that pattern isn’t anything Obama might do (which is a hell of a lot of bad things), but that he’s setting a precedent that someone with Trump’s personality and mindset could really wreak havoc.

    And a third, vaguely-related point: the diluting of “fascist” is a symptom of the hyperbole the left has been pushing way, way too hard for way, way too long. Everyone who they don’t like is a fascist, a racist, a sexist, a hater, a supporter of rape culture, an extremist, a wager of a war on women, a slavery apologist, and so on. The redefining of any opposition as THE WORST EVAR has gotten to the “crying wolf” point that real extremists, really dangerous people aren’t readily distinguishable from those who simply hold illiberal positions. And where is the interest on the right to police their own? They’re too busy defending themselves from bullshit attacks that they have no basis in reality to do so. Add in that the dangerous ones are most immediately dangerous to the ones attacking the non-threatening right-wingers, and where’s the interest in protecting those attacking you?

    “These idiots on the left won’t stop calling me a racist and a Klansman and a rapist and an American Taliban and all that crap. They even tried to get me fired for my political beliefs. Over there’s an actual right-wing nutjob who’s talking about killing a bunch of them. Why the hell should I warn them, or try to talk the nut out of doing it? Let ’em see what a real extremist is like, and maybe they’ll stop this bullshit.”

    I’m getting close to that point myself. I don’t have any extremist contacts, but if I did hear about a plan to attack some of the leftists, my only motive to say anything would be the sure knowledge that I’d be blamed for it anyway, and if it were to come out that I knew about it, I’d be in big trouble.

    But acting out of principle to defend the totally unprincipled? Acting to protect those who spend enormous time and energy attacking me? In the full knowledge that, instead of getting any credit or gratitude, I will get attacked any more? I’ll let Sigourney Weaver speak for me.

  14. @Kari Q: Well, there is something to that, yes.

  15. Jenos Idanian says:
  16. Kylopod says:

    Look, this is all an interesting discussion, but it ignores the real reason Trump is categorically different from one of the old-style fascists.

    Put simply, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, etc. were not trolls.

    This whole thing is an act, a bid for attention. By saying the looniest things, he keeps himself in the headlines.

    The Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski has done a thorough job documenting the epic shifts in Trump’s views throughout his career. In 1999, when flirting with a run for the Reform Party, he attacked Buchanan as a divisive racist, in reaction to views which closely resemble Trump’s now. In 2009, Trump praised Obama to high heaven. In 2012, Trump attacked Romney for being too hard on Latinos with his “self-deportation” remarks. The list goes on. Trump’s political profile is as fluid as Mitt Romney’s–maybe more so. And it isn’t because of some slow evolution, nor is it because of any standard opportunism. No, it’s because he says whatever enables him to troll hardest.

    You just have to listen to him. Just last week one of his spokesmen declared that he’d win 100% of the black vote. It kind of resembles a prediction I made in July, that if Trump decides to go third party he’ll claim he’s going to win all 50 states. I stand by that prediction (and it doesn’t matter one whit whether he succeeds in getting on the ballot in all 50 states). That’s just the Trumpian way of speaking. He says things that are totally ludicrous, just so he can watch people choke on their coffee.

    The point isn’t whether the old-style fascists were true believers or opportunists. The point is that, whatever their private beliefs, they all genuinely sought real political power. Nothing Trump has done has suggested he’d ever truly want to be in the Oval Office, having to actually deal with Putin or Bibi or Mexico or, worst of all, Congress, instead of simply spouting his fantasies about how they’ll all tumble in his presence.

    Now, you may object that I’m not taking his frankly dangerous rhetoric seriously enough or considering how he has poisoned our discourse by bringing racist ideas into the mainstream. For the record, these things do concern me. But I think much of what he’s done is simply to bring out into the open what was already there–to expose the GOP’s racist side that has afflicted the party for the last few generations. In some ways, this element has been a lot more destructive in its subtle form we see in mainstream GOP politicians.

    The mainstream GOP is scared of Trump because he gives away the store.

  17. Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf: Calling Trump a “fascist” is a more sophisticated way of calling him “unAmerican.” It tells me how much you don’t like him, but not much about why. I can imagine a lot of the world discussing through the late 1930s why Nazi Germany or Italy or Japan or Spain made them politically uncomfortable. Agreeing later that it was the “fascism” (like the idea it was all about Hitler personally) provides some closure but ignores the idiosyncracies that prevented any unified political response to the movement at the time. It was a combination of “heinous” policies to most segments and “justifiable” policies to others that froze everyone.

    A belief the system will correct itself is usually true and occasionally (very unfortunately) disarming. I hope democracy – and even that bizarre form called party primaries – will correct Trump. But we should not distract ourselves with the simple question of fascism.

  18. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian: ironic that you would take liberals to task for name-calling in a thread that refers to Jonah Goldberg, author of the book Liberal Fascism. You also seem to be ignoring the many insults purveyed by those on the right toward liberals: feminazis, un-American, libtards, among others.

    You’re also ignoring that the right often goes beyond just insults. Remember the “Second Amendment remedies” threat?

  19. dazedandconfused says:

    He is a blowhard gaming the system but people don’t advocate that a heck of a lot.

    I doubt we are “there” yet or that Trump is the guy, but this is what democracy looks like when it breaks down. As we all know committees are fundamentally schizoid, and that is tolerated only to the degree livin’ is easy and times are good much of the time and never when people start to starve.

    The middle class is and has been systematically crushed since the late 70’s. Heck of a lot of middle aged white guys draining their IRA’s to stay off the streets out there, see the government’s take for penalties for early withdrawal last year. When The People get poor enough to demand government save them from their condition there is unfortunately no more efficient and effective government than intelligent, benevolent dictatorship. Depend on wishful thinking and confirmation bias to do the heavy lifting on the first two aspects.

    Trump’s contempt for our system of government is not explicit, he doesn’t damn it outright he simply pretends the office he is seeking is that of a king.

  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Monala: I’m talking about the commenters here, and Democrats at high levels. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi all come to mind.

    But do you know the major difference between the right-wing terrorists and the left-wing terrorists? Competence. The only thing different from Timothy McVeigh and Bill Ayers is that McVeigh actually achieved his goals; Ayers was a failure at actually using bombs. They both had the same intent and the same plans; McVeigh just actually pulled it off.

    And as “intent” is a significant factor, Ayers should have been at least locked up for life, if not killed. Instead, he got to influence a future president over years.

  21. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I don’t have any extremist contacts, but if I did hear about a plan to attack some of the leftists, my only motive to say anything would be the sure knowledge that I’d be blamed for it anyway, and if it were to come out that I knew about it, I’d be in big trouble.

    So the question of whether or not to report knowledge of a terrorist plot would actually be all about…you.

    Narcissus would gawp with astonishment.

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And it would be extremely easy to do the same sketch with Latin American Presidents.

  23. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I’m talking about the commenters here, and Democrats at high levels. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi all come to mind.

    You know the strangest thing. I tested this and googled “Nancy Pelosi” and “Fascist” and strangely there wasn’t a single case of her calling someone a fascist on the first few pages. It was all right-wingers calling her a fascist.

    But I guess the lovely folks at “theantiliberalzone” and “startthinkingright” are either stealth liberals or just defending themselves against all those vicious attacks on teenager facebook pages back in the 200+ result range. If you’re a sensitive little plant getting dissed by 17-year olds hurts. It hurts so much that one would rather see people getting killed than risk helping someone who might call you names later.

    Those poor, sad little creatures. I’ll shed a tear for their predicament over the holidays.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    Trump isn’t a fascist. He’s a card-carrying populist enfant terrible who is amusing himself terribly by getting a sizable percentage of the Base on the Right to run after him with their tongues wagging out and getting the Republican establishment class in a total tizzy.

  25. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m talking about the commenters here, and Democrats at high levels. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi all come to mind.

    So you’re criticizing people for not for what they’ve actually said, but what that could potentially say in your fever dreams of how people who don’t vote for your preferred candidate feel about their country?

    This here is exactly why Trump’s statements evoke the fear of American fascism.

    Some folks imagine scenarios where their neighbors are the biggest and scariest and most important enemy we face as a nation.

    Those folks are the worst of us. Granted, they’ve been trained to think that way, but they’ve accepted the training.

    I’ve always hated the childhood chant “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I hate it because it is doubly wrong.

    Words *can* hurt and, sociopolitically, words always precede the sticks and stones phase of the cleansing and purging portion this particular scenario. Rwanda is a good example if you’re leery of considering the more widely known examples.

    Is Trump a fascist? No. Are Trump’s statements proto-Fascist? Yes.

    (Actually, he could very well be a wind-vane fascist playing on people’s fear for his own gain. That’s the best -case. The most generous interpretation of Trump’s statements is that he stoking our fear of The Other for political advantage. Well played, sir.)

    Currently, he lacks the power of the State to enact his words.

    But we’re facing the possibility that Trump could, in fact, actually have the power of the State were he to be elected. Even if you totally discount his current polling numbers and believe he cannot be elected, a huge number of Americans are entirely on-board with Trump’s “solution” to jihadism.

    My God, we have a bargain-basement Mussolini leading the field on the R ticket!

    We’ve always heard that fascism would come to America bearing a cross and waving a flag, but instead we have this short-fingered, vulgarian, real estate developer buffoon spinning false tales of American citizens or residents celebrating 9/11as a victory for Islam in support of a ban on all Muslims being able to enter or to move freely about this country whatever their birthplace or citizenship status. Trump is talking about blood. And one cannot be both truly American and Muslim at the same time.

    An entirely false narrative that most R’s believe to be true.

    I’m normally a pretty optimistic person and given to the belief that way more people are good than bad. Trump’s statements are shocking. Way more shocking is that he was not immediately disavowed, not by the R Establishment who actually have acquitted themselves quite well in the matter, but by the voters. By us.

    There is a monster in our midst.

  26. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But do you know the major difference between the right-wing terrorists and the left-wing terrorists? Competence. The only thing different from Timothy McVeigh and Bill Ayers is that McVeigh actually achieved his goals; Ayers was a failure at actually using bombs. They both had the same intent and the same plans; McVeigh just actually pulled it off.

    You seem to be applauding sociopathy here.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Also, you’re completely ignoring the 1970’s European leftist terrorists who were very competent at killing innocents in pursuit of their foolish goals. Are you discounting their competence because they were European or because they were of the Left?

    Red Dawn was a movie, dude, not a documentary.

  27. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Instead, he (Ayers) got to influence a future president over years.

    Please prove this claim.

    Let’s not be coy. You’re stating that Ayers was an influence to Obama – for years, even. That an American terrorist influenced our current President over many years. You’re saying that they were not only in the same room twice, but that Ayers was an influence to Obama over years.

    Is physical proximity proof of influence?

  28. @de stijl:

    You seem to be applauding sociopathy here.

    That, but mostly just trolling.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    Every time they attack Trump, every time they hear something else bad about him, they rejoice because they think that this is finally the One Thing that’ll finish him off, it blows up in their faces. They tell everyone yet again what a horrible person Trump is, and his poll numbers go even higher. Haven’t you figured out yet that the more you attack him, the stronger he gets? Do you really need me to repeat the classic definition of insanity?

    You’re confused…liberals look at Trump the same way they looked at Sarah Palin…they don’t fear him, rather, they are laughing at him…there may be enough wingnuts in the GOP base to give him some votes, he’ll never win a general election…

  30. Electroman says:

    @de stijl:

    Is physical proximity proof of influence?

    Only in subatomic physics.

  31. de stijl says:

    @Electroman:

    Only in subatomic physics.

    I hereby dub you, temporarily at least, Electron-man.

    You are simultaneously both Electroman and Electron-man until someone deigns to observe you and then you are forced by the rules of the universe to be one but not the other.

    BTW, don’t get in a box with a cat. There’s a 50-50 that things will end badly for you.

  32. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Btw, I’ll admit, I do find Trump scary. I find/found folks like Herman Cain and Sarah Palin ridiculous and laughable, and I found Trump that way earlier on. But as his campaign has progressed, he has become more and more vicious in his rhetoric against certain groups, and he has followers who are more than willing to take action to bring his vicious rhetoric into being. And I find that ugly and scary.

  33. Jenos Idanian says:

    @de stijl: You seem to be applauding sociopathy here.

    No, I’m recognizing competence. McVeigh had a plan and he successfully carried it out. Ayers had a plan, but he and his buddies blew themselves up instead.

    McVeigh justly got the death penalty. Ayers got not only absolution, but became a respected figure.