Trump, Our Republican Nominee, and Fascism
By: Ethan Robinson
As of around May 3, following a drastic loss in Indiana, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and John Kasich of Ohio, both dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. With this turn of events comes the near guarantee that Businessman Donald Trump will represent the Republican party for the 2016 Presidency; his ascension as nominee now completely unopposed.
If we are to truly acknowledge Trump as the potential commander-in-chief of our country, it is vital to understand his ethos of governance and where his position lies when it comes to the issues that face our society. All of those in government make promises, but even if most of these promises do not come true, it is still essential to know what will drive their actions in leading this country. Therefore, upon analyzing his assertions, speeches, and statements, I have found reason to draw parallels between Trump’s views and tenets that are typically aligned with fascism.
In order to properly discuss this matter, we will be studying the similarities between Trump’s statements and the “14 Characteristics of Fascism” as defined by political scientist Lawrence Britt.
Before you let any cast of doubt sway your mind against these findings, consider this: Yes, every government may uphold a few of these 14 characteristics, but that does not mean that the government itself is completely fascist; it merely reflects a part of human nature. How Lawrence Britt defines fascism with the 14 characteristics is when all or most of the 14 are found in extreme amounts within a system of government. Numbers are not unintentionally skipped, as you will see the only tenets shown are those which apply. Still, Trump’s views easily correlate with 12 out of the “14 Characteristics of Fascism”.
- Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
All are aware of Trump’s campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.” It doesn’t take much to see the vast patriotism Trump advocates just by seeing videos of his rallies or briefly visiting his merchandise store. But so what? Look at every other candidate’s representation and the flag is flaunted just as much. But the heart of this point lies in the fact that Trump emphasizes a “return to greatness,” amplified by this false sense of decadence (which will be explored in further points). This return to greatness and false decadence idea mirrors the messages delivered by several fascist dictators seeking a rebirth of the nation, such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Juan Perón.
- Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
Trump has made himself clear when it comes to his thoughts of the use of torture in the War on Terror, referring to waterboarding. “I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us.” Trump would ignore human rights, that we normally grant to all felons in the U.S. no matter the sentence, just because they are presumably Middle-Eastern militants who have threatened our way of life. This advocates a sense of revenge and a desperate fear into the people, leading us to ignore human values that we say we hold dear.
- Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities, liberals, communists, socialists, terrorists, etc.
All of Trump’s speech and action is clearly shown towards this particular tenet. Certain demographics, mostly Mexicans and Muslims, are being blamed for uprooting the country of its values and wealth of prosperity. Parallels can be drawn towards the McCarthyist era of the Cold War where the U.S. was paranoid of communism being an ideology followed by individual citizens. On his 2016 campaign, Trump even said that Muslims are threatening our way of life and should wear badges, not dissimilar to Hitler’s use of the Hebrew badges in the holocaust.
Trump is also quoted as saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs.They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Just some? In reality most immigrants are probably desperate people with good intentions. Trump has placed one discriminatory label on an entire group of thousands upon thousands, based on a small percentage of negative.
- Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
Trump has placed heavy stock in military might, even though he has gained a bad reputation with much of the US military itself. But even so, he claims to be a military man, and no doubt will want the military to be the forefront of his policies. Support for the military and its veterans is a good thing, but enormously funding it and granting it large leeway and support, just for hostile foreign policy, is not. Given Trump’s foreign policy views, do not put it past him to do just this.
- Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
Sexism practically drips from Trump’s mouth. The number of sexist-charged tweets against Hillary Clinton is staggering. Trump has also referred to his sex life during the 80’s as his “personal Vietnam”, and referred if Ivanka Trump wasn’t his daughter, he’d be dating her. Trump sees women as sexual objects and trophies, and those views are probably held by many of his followers. Imagine how these ideals would be spread if this man came to office.
Trump is also not the ideal republican candidate of down-to-earth, conservative family values. He has said little about supporting traditional values such as religion and family, which the Republican party notably upholds. If he is not a supporter of these virtues for individual families, who does he expect to be the guardian of the family institution? The federal government?
- Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
We cannot fully gauge how Trump would use the media as a president, but he is certainly guilty of building up an image with his confident and eccentric yet controversial character. Whatever he says and does makes it into the news, and doing so he has gotten the media to be his own primary publicist to the American people. As historian Robert Paxton says, Trumps indirect control of the media is astounding and almost natural, recounting one instance where Trump descended from a plane for a speech, not unlike Hitler arriving by plane in front of supporters for his 1932 election victory. All publicity is good publicity, especially when you have built up an image that is unable to be ignored.
- Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Number seven goes hand in hand with the previous tenets, chiefly the extreme nationalism and placing of certain groups as scapegoats. If you look at everything Trump says, it is all structured on fear. A fear of Muslim saboteurs, a fear of Mexican drug dealers and rapists, and a fear for the entire well-being of America, when in fact all of this is merely a phantom peril magnified into exaggerated numbers. It is a fear based on nothing, which leads Trump to make ridiculous assertions, notably that he’d “build a wall,” with his name on it too.
- Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Trump himself is a corporate power, which makes it even more laughable when he says he denounces Wall Street and all its practices. Trump is a businessman, and he’s in it to make money. So what do you think he intends when putting himself into power as the Commander-in-Chief? What will happen to the Trump organization? He’ll grant a biased grace towards his own brainchild and stifle competition using his new leverage granted to him as president. With this in mind, Trump would have practically been put into office by the corporate powers, not the working little man. And a “mutually business/government relationship” would be created with the power elite. The problem isn’t that he grants approval towards competition in the economy, the problem is that he will more than likely allow corporations or even his own to have a stronger influence over our government, which was meant for the people, not big business.
- Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
The working man is the supposed purpose behind Trump’s ascension as a nominee, which is very contradictory given both his status and shown character. Labor unions across the United States, such as steel workers and employees of Carrier Corporation, have claimed Trump’s promises and affability for the working man to be a fraud. Workers at his own hotel in Las Vegas have risen up in protest to protect their own rights and inform the nation of his true nature. So if labor unions are already becoming Trump’s enemy, what will become of them if he is elected?
- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
Of course, the nature of evidence for this tenet is not to the degree of Nazistic burning of books or anything, but Trump’s contempt of academics is evident. He asserts that Common Core education is a disaster, and renders all education needing to be drastically cut. Furthermore, Trump denies all saying and evidence provided by experts, solely relying on his own “experts” to back up his views, when most of what he says has actually been proven to be false 76% of the time. Trump is no friend of the educational world, and is not intellectually credible.
- Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
Excessive amounts of pro-justice and punishment leanings are found within Trump. Not only is he an avid supporter of the death penalty, but he promises it to be a lawful punishment for all murder of police officers. I’m not saying that the death penalty is wrong or that murderers of police don’t deserve punishment, I am merely pointing out that Trump shows a huge amount of leniency towards violent and forceful justice, especially when he proposes a deportation force to push out 11 million Americans.
- Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Lastly, it leads to this. All of these values coalesce into rampant corruption. Badges, a deportation force, pure racism, sexism, nationalism, disdain for labor unions and a high regard for the corporate elite, what else could it be? All of the 11 out of 14 shown to lead to fascist ideas that are evident behind Donald Trump’s show of confidence. If we are to accept all of this evidence, then crypto-fascism, not outwardly seen, is Trump’s real identity. He bases it all on fear and extreme nationalism to gain support, and hides or ignores the fact that much of his views are aligned with some fascist ideas. Or perhaps he is so air-headed he does not realize it at all.
Trump is not Hitler; he is as American as apple pie. As Sinclair Lewis predicted, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”