Is The Donald Trump Administration Fascist Yet?Tweet
Gabriela Ivonne Ortiz --- Following the election of Trump, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary saw a spike in the lookups of: surreal, bigot, and fascism. Surely the Trump administration continues to invoke feelings of surrealism. He is certainly a bigot. But is Trump fascist? The simple answer is no — not yet. While Trump is not a fascist by definition, he exhibits fascist-like tendencies. What exactly is fascism? Fascism is a right-wing collectivist ideology that places race and nation above the individual. Additionally, fascist ideology has a focus on “social otherness”. Fascist leaders tend to step up under the guise that they will uplift society from any foreign imminent danger. This is where Trump’s campaign slogan “Make American Great Again” (MAGA) aligns itself with fascist ideology. In addition to Trump’s MAGA slogan, throughout his campaign there was plenty of rhetoric that demonized racial and ethnic minorities. Anti-Mexican, islamophobic, anti-black, and xenophobic rants were the norm. But speech itself does not make a leader a fascist.
In order to be considered a true fascist, Trump would have to do away with American democracy and try to abolish the free press. While Trump has attempted to delegitimize the press, he has not yet taken away the right of the press to operate. The potential for fascism in this current administration exists, and Trump’s continuous assault on the free press should be diligently monitored.
Trump Administration Blitzes Press
Let us recap:
January 11: Trump refuses question regarding Russia from CNN reporter and refers to the news outlet as “terrible” and “fake news”. Video here.
January 15: Reuters reported that the Trump administration was looking into moving the White House press briefing room from the West Wing to the EEOB (Eisenhower Executive Office Building), which is in a separate building near the White House.
January 22: Senior adviser to Trump, Kellyanne Conway appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. The question that prompted Conway’s “alternative facts” response was regarding the White House claim that Trumps inauguration size was the largest in history. Conway said the press secretary gave “alternative facts”. For video of the interview, click here.
February 17: February 24: The New York Times, CNN, Politico and the LA Times were not allowed to attend an informal press briefing (a gaggle) at the White House.
May 12:Trump tweets that it would be best to cancel White House briefings and instead handout written responses to the press.
May 16: The New York Times reported that Trump asked then FBI director James Comey to consider putting reporters in jail for publishing classified leaked information.
May 25: Trump does not hold a press conference during his nine-day trip to Europe and the Middle East, a highly unusual move.
June 19: The Trump administration holds off-camera press briefings. Reporters were told they could not record or broadcast audio from the meetings. As a result, some news outlets have resorted to sending a sketch artist to the press briefings.
July 2: In yet another tweet, Trump tweets an altered video which depicts Trump body slamming a man with the CNN logo over his head. The video clip can be watched here.
Facts versus alternative facts
Is Trump's tact of reconstructing narratives a characteristic of other fascist or quasi-fascist states too? In my view, this is potentially more characteristic of authoritarianism in general. Politicians lie. It is well-established understanding that politicians lie. While that sordid reality should be appalling, what is even more appalling is that when Trump lies, he is completely disregarding what is true, and that is a different type of lie. The truth is whatever Trump wants it to be. This is very typical of authoritarian regimes, such as Nazism, Mussolini, Stalinism, but the difference is that those authoritarian leaders had the power to enforce the lies on the population. And so again, that has not been done by the Trump administration. So, if Trump is not a fascist, is he a nationalist?
Fascism tends to be an extreme form of nationalism. The potential for fascism tends to lie within most nationalisms, where there is a clear distinction between “us and them” and who is a member of said nation. Nazism blurred those lines because Nazism was centered more around race than the nation itself. Most fascists are nationalists, but not all nationalists are fascists. Since Trump is not a fascist per se, it is correct to refer to him as a nationalist/populist, much like Andrew Jackson. Until Trump, Jackson was the last populist/nationalist president. Trump has attempted to delegitimize the press and his opposition. However, there has been no real or legal attempt at restricting or banning his opposition from politics. (Editors Note: With the notable effort to publicly shame Clinton and revisit the server investigations. Also, former colonies who nation build are exempt from this set of definitions e.g. Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, etc.)
Trump is not a fascist. But as a public, we should pay close attention to his administration’s actions. The electoral college and voting is not perfect, but it is what we have and we must utilize it. We must pay very close attention to local elections. It is equally important that we contact our elected officials and show up to demonstrations. Town hall meetings are also important places to voice discontent. Trump does not hold all the power. He cannot abolish Medicare, ACA, EPA, or make laws. Congress, however, can. So, pay more attention to what is happening in congress. If Trump wants to make a move toward fascism, he’s only going to do it if congress allows it.