Trump-Endorsed Senator John Cornyn Quotes Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini On Twitter, Offers No Explanation

Texas Republican John Cornyn, recently endorsed in his reelection bid by Donald Trump, bizarrely posted a quote from Italy's World War II-era fascist dictator.

John Cornyn speaks to Donald Trump.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Texas Republican John Cornyn, recently endorsed in his reelection bid by Donald Trump, bizarrely posted a quote from Italy's World War II-era fascist dictator.

John Cornyn, the conservative Republican three-term U.S. Senator from Texas, will run to seek a fourth term in 2020, and Donald Trump this week announced that he endorses Cornyn’s reelection bid, according to Politico, saying in a tweet that Cornyn “has done an outstanding job for the people of Texas,” and that “John has my complete and total endorsement. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

But on Sunday, the 67-year-old Cornyn took to his own Twitter account to — without any further initial explanation — post a quote from the historical figure best known as the founder of the political movement known as fascism, Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy as dictator of the country’s fascist state from 1922 to 1943.

“We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become,” Cornyn quoted Mussolini saying in the tweet, provoking a puzzled and stunned response from other Twitter users. The quote appeared on Cornyn’s Twitter feed with no further context, making it impossible for other Twitter users to figure out what the Texan Senator was attempting to reference.

One Twitter commentator, Meghan Chakrabarti of Boston’s WBUR Radio, noted that Cornyn had earlier quote the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, whose work is often cited by conservatives as the basis for their “supply side” policies favoring deregulation and low taxation for corporations and the wealthy. Chakrabarti asked what Cornyn was attempting to “support” by quoting both Hayek and Mussolini.

Benito Mussoli rides in car with Adolf Hitler.
In this 1937 photo, Italian facist dictator Benito Mussolini (r) rides in a car with German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler (l). Keystone / Getty Images

Twitter users who replied to Cornyn’s Mussolini tweet were also baffled.

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Mussolini authored a book outlining his philosophy of fascism titled The Corporate State. As explained in an essay by Global Security, “the Fascist state does not rest on the assent of the individual, which it saw as a delusion, but on the assent of the Corporations.”

Fascism as conceived by Mussolini also — unlike Communism or socialism — affirmed that dividing people into “classes” was the basis for an ideal political system, and under this “corporate state,” obedience to the authority of those who rank higher on the class ladder is the only way that human societies can accomplish their goals, according to the Global Security summary. Individual rights and freedoms are not recognized as legitimate — or even real — under Mussolini’s system of fascism.

Cornyn later did return to his Twitter account, to explain that his quote from Mussolini was intended to teach “so-called Democratic Socialists” the “lessons of history,” apparently unaware of the crucial differences between socialism and Mussolini’s fascism.