Jonathan Kraut | Of the 10 Things Fascists Do, How Many Are Familiar?

The Trump presidency has many sounding the alarm that Trump is a racist. Yet some conservatives are delighted that Trump is “telling the way it really is” and that “he is finally taking back our country.”

To me the question is if the Republican Party allows Trump’s personality to embody fascist qualities.

Fascism is characterized by a narcissistic autocrat who promotes vilifying and persecuting intruders and the “unworthy” in order to establish and sustain using forcible suppression of the opposition and consolidating political control by generating fear.

A significant portion of the electorate, estimated at 35%, is clearly being led down a path that promotes a fascist mindset.

According to an article in Psychology Today, July 27, 2018, “Fascism or Not Fascism?” fascism is “a form of mental disorder at a societal scale.” 

The article characterizes fascist regimes as those that take political power by perpetuating hate of outsiders and “evil ones” while offering a sense of national entitlement and moral purity. Further, fascist regimes disparage, deport, and even murder those who “do not belong.” 

Under Trump have we seen hallmarks of fascist thinking?

No. 1: Creating the narrative of being overrun and needing to survive extinction. 

Trump’s focus on building border walls, refugee holding camps, keeping “them out,” and declaring that rapists, drug dealers, terrorists and murderers are crossing the border to kill us is a call to our fears and our need for survival.

No. 2: An ideology that outsiders are trying to take what is “ours.” 

Trump highlights the word “our” when he talks with great pause and clarity about “our” country and “our” nation. This is his call to promote moral entitlement and that we should not allocate money or resources to helping “invaders” and the undeserving.

No. 3: Political and popular support for whatever the charismatic leader judges to be true.

Trump says the Russia meddling investigation is a witch hunt, even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller assessed Russia did and currently is meddling in our elections. This witch hunt view for many is accurate despite the facts.

Another example is when Trump declared that four congresswomen of color, known as “the squad,” “should go back where they came from.” 

Trump said the reason they should leave this country is because that “they hate America.” I have heard no Republicans questioning Trump’s assessment that these elected representatives actually hate America and Trump gave no examples.

No. 4: The desires of the leader have precedent over the needs of the nation. 

There is not a peep of protest from most Republicans regarding how Trump’s trade war with China is hurting farmers, manufacturers and the economy. Apparently, Trump’s need to exercise power is more important than economic stability and local business solvency. 

No. 5: Demonizing those with different views and opinions, often calling them weak, ugly, or stupid.

We all know Trump criticizes, disparages and denigrates any and all whose views differ from his. We have no tolerance for bullying in our schools, but a large chunk of American voters delight every time Trump slanders and belittles others.

No. 6: The bully is actually the victim. 

Trump often claims the press, judges, and others treat him unfairly and that in fact he is the victim. Trump would seem to hope, that even if true, criticism of him should be dismissed because of someone’s tainted view or because Trump is not being treated with fairness.

No. 7: Embracing dictators and men of absolute political power.

Snuggling up with and appeasing authoritarian dictators like Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman is what we would expect from any wanna-be dictator.

No. 8: Comparing disliking the leader to treason and being unpatriotic.

Trump often calls those who disagree with him as “treasonous” and unpatriotic. News organizations report that from taking office through this June, Trump has made 24 declarations that people, all who disagree with him, are committing treason. Trump thinks he is America?

No. 9: Assuming full control of all branches of government.

Not yet.

No. 10: Waiving all personal freedoms in the name of the state

Hopefully never. 

Let’s acknowledge Trump is only 80% fascist so far.

The Psychology Today article I quoted earlier writes, “To deal with societal mental disorder, it is important first to identify and to recognize it…but more dramatically, (acknowledge) a mentally impaired leader…”

If true, once Trump is booted from power, the influence his pissy little tantrums, false judgements, constant self-adulation and fascist perspectives will have faded and the nation can return to its collaboratively minded and more inclusive roots. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO private security firm, is the COO of an Acting Conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.     

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