A form of political totalitarian dictatorship that I find especially repellent is fascism. The name of this brand of tyranny comes from the Italian word fascio, meaning bundle, or by extension, a political group. It reached its peak in the first half of the twentieth century in Italy under Mussolini and in Nazi Germany under Hitler. The pogroms both undertook, especially those with the goal of eliminating the Jews, were characteristic.
According to Wikipedia, “Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti [under Mussolini in Italy]) 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.”
Fascism interests me these days because it’s obvious to me that the U.S. was well on its way in that direction under Donald Trump. One feature of fascistic governing is the use of the power of the state against the ruler’s enemies. Trump’s corruption of the Department of Justice was precisely that. Another trait of a fascist regime is defining for the citizens what may be believed as true, no matter what the facts may be. That is exactly what we had under Trump, especially with respect to the 2020 election. And Trump’s “make America great again” is ultranationalism writ large.
Auspiciously, Trump was, beyond any doubt, defeated in the 2020 election. That hasn’t deterred him from claiming victory in the face of overwhelming evidence that he lost. What is astonishing to me is that so many Americans accept his lie in the face of undeniable evidence of his defeat. The violence of January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters attacked and ransacked the U.S. Capitol, is strikingly similar to that which led to Hitler’s empowerment and the establishment of Germany’s Third Reich.
There are lessons to be learned from Trump’s triumph and ultimate defeat. We must ask ourselves why so many voted for Trump in the first place. We must consider the implications of the fact that in 2016 he lost the popular vote by almost three million and yet was elected by the Electoral College. And most amazing, why do so many Americans continue to believe the proven lies he told?
We can make a more perfect union by learning from the mistakes we have made. Let’s get started.