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Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Is Donald Trump a Fascist? Fascism has been defined by the Council on Foreign Relations as “A mass political movement that emphasizes extreme nationalism, militarism, and the supremacy of both the nation and the single, powerful leader over the individual citizen.” Fascism came to be in the period between World War One and Two, exemplified mainly by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

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Many times Donald Trump is called a fascist. Does that definition really stick? 

The Opposite of Fascism

Fascism is the opposite of a liberal democracy in which there is a representative government where power is shared, pluralism is valued, and citizens have individual rights and freedoms to limit the reach of government. The fascism term gets bandied about in 2023 to describe police, lockdown rules, overwrought laws, torturous rules and regulations – all working to take away the liberty of the people.

Trump’s Nationalism

Former President Donald Trump is often accused of being a fascist. Trump has exhibited a form of America First nationalism and attempted to remain in power after he lost an election.

But the term is so widespread and used by the left and right frequently, that it has lost its level of seriousness and accusatory value.

Conservatives Believe that Liberals Are Fascists Too

Conservatives have charged the left with being “liberal fascists” for years. This was exemplified in a book by Jonah Goldberg. Political correctness, woke policies, and cancel culture have been used as a hammer against progressives. Meanwhile, the liberals have accused conservatives of taking away freedoms by limiting abortion, banning books, and prohibiting drag shows. 

The Government Doesn’t Care About People Like Me

This has led many voters to believe that both Republicans and Democrats have robbed the government of its legitimacy. The people have little confidence in institutions such as the Supreme Court, Congress, the bureaucracy, and the Presidency. All branches of government are unpopular.

We Are on a Dangerous Path

These skeptics believe that the country is constantly on the wrong track and that political leaders do not care about ordinary Americans. The left and right think that something terrible could happen at any time to the governing structure – that additional violence, even a civil war, could occur again in the United States. Some view that domestic terrorism from the right or the left could result in a huge attack on a federal building that could kill numerous people, for example.

Right-wing Populism Is the Problem

Chauncey DeVega, writing in Salon, is of the opinion that the rightists, led by Trump and his supporters, are capable of more violence as they try to eliminate the Deep State and rebuild a new type of government that defeats the principles of the American founding.

“Fascists and authoritarians, especially fake right-wing populists, are fueled by such feelings and emotions. Political leaders and movements of that ilk represent change, a break from normal and something exciting through destruction and tearing down the old to build something new,” DeVega wrote.

It’s a Form of Nihilism and Anarchy Too

DeVega thinks that Trump supporters such as Steve Bannon embody a brand of fascism that seeks to destroy the liberal order of America. Bannon said in 2013, “I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Since Americans distrust their leaders and institutions, it gives Trump and his supporters a lane to institute a form of government that could lead to fascism, where an authoritarian and supreme leader emerges to dominate the landscape and remain in power indefinitely.

The Nationalism of the Military

Some of this end state would be dependent on the military to back Trump’s new government entity. Donald Trump, in the past, has examined ways to use the military to institute martial law and hold a new election to nullify Biden’s win in 2020. Trump has also called for military parades with tanks that would glorify the armed forces to show that he views defense personnel as a base of support for his reign.

Indeed, there were a number of veterans and active duty persons who participated in the January 6 insurrection.

Donald Trump: Make America Safe Again

This is why many people are scared of Donald Trump and believe that the United States is backsliding on democracy as the right and left hurl insults at each other to defeat all aspects of civil discourse. President Joe Biden, on the other hand, is not innocent. He has attacked Trump supporters as “MAGA extremists,” even though about 47 percent of the country voted for Trump in 2020.

It is interesting that there were no references to MAGA Republicans in Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7.

What About You?

What happens when both the right and left call each other fascists? As I said earlier, the insult has lost most of its meaning and efficacy since it has been over-used and not understood. Each side engages in “What Aboutism.” If you say I’m a fascist for supporting Donald Trump and wanting to overthrow an election, I say what about Biden and his lockdowns and vaccine mandates?

As you can see, both sides appear to limit individual freedom and use government institutions as a cudgel to beat each other senselessly. This means that both Trump and Biden could be seen as fascists. The insult has become so ubiquitous that it has lost its significance.

Let’s hope the republic can withstand hatred between the right and left and more violence does not happen between the two sides.

Perhaps the accusations of fascism can fade away, and people will move on to another insult.

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Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.