Opinion: Make America fascist again

Anthony Erhardt is a Paralegal Studies major and a memeber of the Kent State College Democrats. Contact him at [email protected]

Anthony Erhardt

Donald Trump is a fascist.

This is not some cute talking point used to elicit a reaction or an opinion derived from a poorly-done Facebook meme comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.

There are many academics, scholars and historians who support this assertion and provide a bevy of logic and evidence to support their conclusions. Fascism and authoritarianism have arrived in America, not via Barack Obama as many conservatives claimed, but rather by his successor.

First, I think it is important to define fascism, what makes a fascist, and then explain how Trump fits the mold. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, fascism is defined as “(a) political philosophy, movement, or regime 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.”

At first glance you may say “that’s much too broad,” but let’s break down the components of fascism and how Trump relates to them.

American political scientist Robert Paxton breaks down the main facets of fascism in his 2004 novel, “The Anatomy of Fascism.” These include an overwhelming sense of crisis that cannot be solved by traditional methods, the group’s belief that it is a victim, and the use of exclusionary violence as part of an effort to reverse perceived decline.

On the first point, Trump’s campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Trump, much like Hitler did in Germany, preyed on the legitimate economic fears of middle- and lower- class Americans. He promised to bring back manufacturing jobs, stop Mexicans from taking American jobs and Muslims from killing Americans in great numbers.

Of course, what Trump and his associates won’t tell you is that the jobs lost were lost due to automation, not undocumented immigrants. They won’t tell you that Mexican workers primarily do jobs Americans refuse to and you are more likely to be killed by a white supremacist than an Islamic terrorist.

At one point, Trump told his supporters we “won’t have a country” and that our country is “dying,” suggesting that he is the only one smart enough, strong enough and capable enough of stopping that from happening.

Focusing on the third point, a great many Trump supporters certainly played the victim card. Many of them believed to be the “true Americans,” that Obama and the Democrats had been earnestly trying to take their country away from them.

Many of Trump’s supporters displayed hyper-nationalism and, in some cases, hyper-nativism, which makes sense because they mostly get their news from sites like Breitbart, Infowars and Fox “News.” All of these organizations are nothing more than relentless propaganda services that play to the worst of society.

Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, claims the Sandy Hook Massacre was faked with actors. Breitbart, formerly run by noted anti-Semite Steve Bannon, who now has a seat on the National Security Council, has run stories such as “Hoist it high and proud: the Confederate Flag proclaims a proud legacy.” Fox News, operating under the guise of a news organization, featured hosts who fueled racist conspiracy theories about Obama’s citizenship.

If you use these publications as your primary source for news – sources which peddle white nationalism and the narrative that “American, Judeo-Christian values” are under attack – then Trump probably makes more sense to you than any other politician.

I have some bad news for Trump supporters and apologists: In the words of the great Jon Stewart, “You feel that you’re this country’s rightful owners. There’s only one problem with that: This country isn’t yours. You don’t own it. It never was. There is no ‘real America.’ You don’t own it. You don’t own patriotism. You don’t own Christianity. You sure as hell don’t own respect for the bravery and sacrifice of military, police and firefighters.”

The last point I want to touch on is the last portion of the definition of fascism, that of “forcible suppression of opposition.” This is where Trump and his administration’s true fascism really shows through.

They have labeled the media the “opposition party” and continued to show a flagrant disregard for facts, truth and evidence. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, blatantly lied about his inauguration attendance numbers, Kellyanne Conway has made up terrorist attacks (Bowling Green Massacre, anyone?) to justify Trump’s Muslim Ban, claiming they operate under “alternative facts.” Trump himself even attacked the integrity of a judge who halted his ban under the concept of constitutionality, something he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for merely bring up.

In a democratic society it is perfectly OK to challenge the media, but to intentionally damage their credibility because they publish stories you don’t agree with is asinine.

Trump is quoted as saying that any negative polls are “fake.” Where have we heard this before? Orwell’s 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

The attitude of those on the right that liberals and progressives are snowflakes and just need to “get over” the election and accept Trump as president is unpatriotic at its core. Did those people extend the same courtesy to Obama after he was elected in 2008?

Peaceful protest and vocal dissent are the bedrock of democracy and forcing the government to answer to those they serve: the American voters, including the close to three million voter edge for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Trump, resulting in him losing the popular vote.

If you think Trump is excused from criticism, I will simply refer you to this quote by one of our great American presidents, Theodore Roosevelt: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Kent State’s own, Dr. Richard Steigmann-Gall, who is an expert in fascism and the advisor of the Kent State College Democrats, wrote in an op-ed, entitled “One Expert Says, Yes, Donald Trump is a Fascist. And It’s Not Just Trump,” that the most revealing aspects about Trump’s authoritarianism comes not from the president himself, but rather his supporters. Steigmann-Gall states, “In all of these ways, Trump not only reveals that he is indeed fascist, but perhaps even more importantly that his followers – even as some of them are in the habit of describing their own enemies on the left as ‘fascist’ and who have loudly professed their disinterest in a caudillo – are actively seeking fascist solutions to problems that ail them.”

We must call out, stand up to and resist Trump’s fascism while it is in the early stages or else #notmypresident might turn into #notmyfuhrer.

Anthony Erhardt is the president of the College Democrats, contact him at [email protected].