“Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultra-nationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.”
The current administration is working in a fascist construct. Now, this may become a popular form a governing for the 21st Century United States or it may crumble in the wake of horror and revolt, but make no mistake, it is occurring. I am not going to get into the personality that is perpetuating this. We know it. We saw it in New York City in the eighties and through the latter parts of the 20th Century into the early 2000s on television—from celebrity to politics—and how it was conjured in a one-man operation that appealed to far less than a majority of the electorate four years ago. This is about the actions of our present government as a whole. There are many actors in this severe shift to fascism; as close to a true tyrannical state as I have witnessed in my nearly half century of political sentience. And more importantly, this is institutional, as in a broken system that must be dramatically altered to save the republic.
Now, in my time in political science study in school and post-collegiate research from Zinn to Buckley to Koestler to examining the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich through experiencing Watergate and Iran/Contra and the myriad of unconstitutional wars we’ve been embroiled in since late 1962, this current crisis in the powers of the executive ranch has reached the levels of pure autocracy; from the constant and blatant attacks on the media as an “enemy of the people” to the shut-down of press briefings of any kind from the executive branch to the Pentagon. There is zero consensus on foreign policy with an embrace of dictators from North Korea to Turkey to Russia and spastic conflicts with of the most powerful democracies in the world – Germany, France, Canada, and Mexico.
Add to this an institutional assault on the rule of law practiced in defiance of non-political power structures by a Justice Department that now acts solely as an arm of the executive branch and attacks and investigates state-run court cases as if it controls its outcomes. This is, of course, only if the defendants are part of the cadre of administration loyalists, no matter the level of criminal behavior. This has expanded to investigating independent councils and whistleblowers instituted by the founding fathers to check the creeping slide toward monarchy, which include those who should feel safe in protecting the republic against a single-voice of power that are being weeded out—disparaged and mocked openly and then relieved of their jobs to be replaced by disqualified boot-licking sycophants. This includes the pardoning of high-criminals who not only have been convicted of anti-state and anti-American conflicts, but those who have no confidence in the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to this, the entire structure of the federal government from its leading law enforcers (FBI) to its intelligence committee (CIA and DNI) are incessantly under attack for expressing anomalies in the power structure and being replaced by dictatorial substitutes for positions usually given to non-political candidates. This has led to the attempt to silence threats to national security and our democratic processes to keep the Russians out of our system, thwarted by one branch of government for the consolidation of influence.
The most formidable faction of our legislative branch has been severely compromised by fear and a lust for keeping power and chooses to avert its sworn responsibilities to instead allow for a singular political ideology to command the day, ignoring decorum and its place as a check on utilitarian rule. Moreover, many in the United States Senate, like the Justice Department, currently act like the ruling class of a third-world country in its feckless verbal and material defense of this affront to democracy.
This is fascism. Plain and simple. You can defend fascism, and that is your right, as you can defend misogyny and racism. I will fight to the death for your right to do so, but there is a reason for semantics and vocabulary. Facts are facts and they line up with this description. When the initiation of government abandons systemic parameters to act without constraint for a myopic vision without the will of the people or the rule of law, this is fascism. And like facts, the ensuing description cannot be debatable.
So now as the courts and military and watchdog principles are brazenly and outwardly being dismantled, berated, and undercut, there is a lesson to be learned. It is important that it is, because we are in a structural crisis, not a one man or one term incongruity. This was an inevitability; the culmination of our steady erosion of the original checks-and-balances put into place by our founders since the 18th Century. This is beyond the current madness, although it has reached its saturation point in 2020, and it is something that must be corrected the minute this present threat is sent away.
Beyond what is at stake in November, this is something we should demand from the moment the next president is sworn in, and maybe demand it from the current crop of candidates that stand as the only hope to curtail this tailspin. The powers of the presidency must be reined in, no matter the name or political affiliation. The next president must embrace the George Washington model of handing the majority of powers back to the law and those who enact and protect it. All presidents in my lifetime and beyond have been guilty of over-stepping or expanding their powers and it has led to a vacuum that has been filled by an irresponsible, ignorant, and power-mad individual. This is what happens when we ignored the war powers, the executive-order powers, the power to pardon any criminal, no matter how heinous, the power to wield the threat of the IRS and the CIA and the Justice Department to lash out at enemies, withhold information and cover-up crime.
If we learn nothing from this crucial period in our nation’s history is that you cannot wipe clean the infrastructure of democracy by merely changing the personality or the party in power. We have a serious issue with the unchecked authority of one branch when that branch is led by one voice, and when that voice is consolidated by its own control over narrative, law, military might, and volume-addled pulpit. We are left with fascism. We have been on this path for decades. It has now reached a point that anyone claiming to be American must defy. But it does not end with one man, with one regime, it ends when the next person sitting in its chair bequeaths its powers to the people.