Democracy or Fascism

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

In his book ‘To Fight Against This Age’ the Dutch philosopher Rob Riemen identifies five elements of what he calls modern fascism: politics of resentment, the incitement of anger and fear, xenophobia, the need for scapegoats, and hatred of the life of the mind.  By that definition Donald Trump was a modern fascist well before his presidency, in fact probably all of his life, but since the fall 2020 election we can add contempt for democratic procedures, disregard  of the outcome of elections and authoritarianism to the list, which makes him more of an old fashioned  fascist in the mold of Hitler or Mussolini.  Already before the presidential election Trump started spreading the big lie that if he would lose the election it would be rigged.  After he in fact lost he doubled down and claimed that only through massive fraud Joe Biden had won the popular vote and a majority in the Electoral College.  In spite of a circus act by Rudy Giuliani and a small group of clowns with law degrees state after state certified the election results and court after court, including the Supreme Court, rejected Trump’s claim that he had won, eventually forcing him out of the White House.

Before moving to Mar-a-Lago Trump made one last stand on January 6th, directing a fascist mob to Capitol Hill to prevent the certification of the election results by Congress.  The invasion of the Capitol was no less than a coup attempt with the intention of turning a losing candidate into a dictator, and after it failed Trump continued to lie that the election had been stolen from him.  That could have been the end of it and he could have spent his remaining years talking to other mental patients who believed that they were Napoleon, Bismarck or Pocahontas, were it not for the fact that a large part of the base of the Republican Party, which has now degenerated into a Trump-cult, believes him, forcing GOP politicians to repeat Trump’s lies or else risk losing their seats in the next election.  One of the consequences of Trump’s false claim of massive voter fraud is that in states where Republicans control the legislature laws have been or will be passed that make it harder to vote, containing a variety of measures that disproportionally affect black Americans and other minorities.  If left unchecked, the result would be fascism by voter suppression.

The problem the Republican Party is facing didn’t start with Trump.  During the last three or four decennia the composition of the US electorate has been changing to the point where, in spite of formidable advantages in the Senate and the Electoral College, there are no longer enough white voters to guarantee GOP dominance, because even in what used to be secure red states the odds are becoming more even.  Of the 23 million new voters counted in the most recent census 95% is non-white, and especially white women no longer see the Republican Party as their natural habitat.

The Republican efforts to end the era of liberal democracy are counterbalanced by Democratic attempts to secure voting rights via federal legislation, but the result of those efforts depends on the behavior of a few senators and the future of the filibuster.  However, even if the ‘For the People’ act fails, it can be hoped that the GOP sabotage of elections will fail as well, because the harder it is made for them to vote the more black Americans will feel motivated to vote anyway.

In spite of his grip on the Republican Party Trump only has the support of a majority of its base, which comes down to around 20% of the US population.  Trump’s party therefore cannot win elections in the long run and if their plot succeeds and they win majorities in Congress and the White House one more time those are the last elections we’ll see and the US has become a fascist country.      

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