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How much fascism would you like with that?


How much fascism would you like with that?

Feb 11, 2024 | 6:27 am ET
By Jim Smith
How much fascism would you like with that?
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Casper, Wyoming (Chet Strange | Getty Images).

As we make our way towards the coming election in November 2024, a strange phenomenon is taking place. We have presidential candidate Donald Trump who openly espouses being a dictator, taking revenge on journalists, his opponents, and anyone who disagrees with him. His speeches are filled with racist innuendos, anti-gay, and anti-women opinions.

He openly says he admires such authoritarian leaders as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and China’s Xi Jinping, and often sprinkles quotes from some of them in his speeches. He compares political opponents to “vermin” who he will “root out” and exterminate. He has repeatedly used the words of Hitler, saying “immigrants are poisoning the blood” of America. And that “America’s greatest threat is from within.” These are all echoes of the speeches of Hitler and Mussolini.

Is Trump a fascist? Fascist leaders believe in the supremacy of certain groups of people based on characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity and nationality. Fascist regimes cultivate images of their leaders as great figures to be loved and admired, often through mass media and propaganda, creating a cult of the personality of one person. Fascist governments are anti-democratic, leave little room for dissent, and strive to centralize power. In this regard, fascist regimes often exhibit totalitarian tendencies by attempting to not just dominate politics but also control the hearts and minds of their citizenry. Sounds like Trump’s plans are exactly this.

Meanwhile members of the GOP, including some of our own Montanans, condone his speech, his attitudes and desires. So, how much Fascism would you like? Do you want journalists rounded up and thrown in prison for their views? Do you condone the imprisonment of former White House staff and appointees because they didn’t back the January 6th insurrection?

When governments issue laws requiring the rewriting of history books to reflect right-wing political views, is it fascism? When rioters invade the halls of Congress to intercede and interfere in confirming the results of a presidential election, is it fascism? When books are banned from schools and libraries because they don’t reflect the right-wing viewpoint, is that fascism? When women and transgender people are denied their right of privacy and the right to make their own decisions about their medical care and bodies, is that fascism?

Throughout history, when the elected governmental bodies in any country cease to function for the interests of the common citizen the social product is an alienated and dissatisfied populace. When this happens, political opportunists who want to be dictators and grab power arise, with a litany of words that say they are the answer. They, and only they, have the ability to change everything for the better, usually taking the country back to some Golden Era that never really existed. Sound familiar? 

The Freedom Caucus members, here in Montana, across the country, and in Congress have capitulated their duty to uphold the Constitution and the law of the land in order to be elected, reelected, and gain more power to implement their agenda. 

January 6th was a trial run of directing people’s frustrations into violence. If reelected, Trump may attempt to use the military to suppress any opposition to his openly avowed retribution against his perceived political enemies, and against organizations that he and his followers deem to be “un-American.” The banning of books and control of libraries is just another form of book burning. We must never forget the word of the German poet, Heinrich Heine, “Those who burn books will in the end burn people.”

One person leaving an Iowa caucus after voting recently was asked by a reporter, “What do you think of Trump saying he would be a dictator?” His answer was a foreboding, “That’s leadership.”

If this attitude doesn’t alarm us, then we are asleep at the wheel. It’s time to rouse ourselves and stop this slide into the abyss. 

So, how much fascism would you like? It’s our decision. Only an engaged, informed, and active citizenry can protect our democracy from this threat. The life you save may be your own.