“Fascism” is a word that is getting thrown around a lot this election cycle, to the point that you’ve got to wonder if half the people saying it know what it actually means.
Merriam-Webster defines the word as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
From a strict interpretation of that rather detailed definition — and why shouldn’t it be so detailed, accusing someone of fascism is an inflammatory and divisive thing? — Donald Trump doesn’t remotely resemble a practitioner of fascism.
For starters, he does not want a centralized government. His stance on education proves that. He wants all education to be “localized,” where local school districts decide on curriculum.
Also, money is power, and if Trump was serious about centralizing power in his governmental regime, he would not be calling for lower taxes on the middle class and top earners. He would instead be advocating higher taxes for all.
While he does have a nationalistic edge as evidenced in his stance on trade — “great deals” for the U.S., the heck with the rest of the world — race has not been an issue that he has created in his campaign. Yes, there are some questionable groups that support Trump, but the same could be said for Bernie Sanders.
One look at what happened in Chicago on Friday is proof of that, as an organized group of Sanders’ supporters reacted violently towards peaceful Trump supporters simply trying to get into the campaign rally venue, forcing cancellation of the event.
Then, there was the anti-Trump reaction of politicians like Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, who seemed to advocate a show of violence in response to rhetoric.
They essentially applauded violent protesters, who robbed people of their right to free speech simply because they disagreed with Trump’s ideas and tone — a move more indicative of fascism than anything you’ll see coming out of a Trump campaign rally.
To close out the actual definition of fascism, it is pretty clear that Trump is not advocating a dictatorial form of government. His entire platform is based on “making great deals” with Democrats and Republicans. He realizes it’s not something he can do alone, and he has said on more than one occasion that “the American people are my special interest.”
As for “forcible suppression,” Trump has only had protesters removed from rallies once they became disruptive and potentially dangerous to themselves and supporters in attendance.
As further evidence of this, the U.S. Secret Service had to remove a protester, who charged the stage in Ohio on Saturday.
Thus far, any “violence” from Trump supporters has been minimal and usually responsive to the violent behaviors originating from Sanders and Clinton supporters.
On Friday, those supporters succeeded in shutting down freedom of speech. That is fascism, folks. Not voting for a guy you might find loud-mouthed and distasteful. The excitement that most Trump supporters feel — and this is coming from a Rand Paul libertarian — is that they are tired of broken government and finally see in Trump the outsider, who can enact real change in the system.
The vast majority of Trump supporters are just sick of things not getting done, and they’re exercising their distaste with Washington through their votes and through showing up at his rallies — not showing up and acting disruptive and threatening at Sanders and Clinton rallies.
Hardly fascism, especially when you look at the definition instead of simply throwing the word around while acting like you know what it means.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Michael Vadon]