In the days before the American election, Trump has shown what America could look like under a second Trump term. For the last 4 years I have been pointing to parallels between Trump and the European leaders of the 1930s. Using words like Fascism upsets plenty of people. They do not understand that we are not saying that Fascism is always the same. It is an attitude, and a set of actions, not a precise copy of Fascism-past.
We have seen so much, especially over the last year, as Trump has grown in confidence, particularly after the Republican Senate told him he was above the law and failed even to hear his impeachment trial. In amongst all the noise though, two things stood out for me over the last few days.
The first is when Biden visited Texas just before the election. A convoy of armed men in trucks, with Trump flags flying from their vehicles, surrounded Biden’s campaign bus and tried to force it off the road. To many, the image of trucks of armed men with flags flying reminded them of ‘Islamic State.’ They are now being investigated by the FBI.
The second was Trump’s response to this: he embraced it, joking that they were welcoming Biden, were just nice guys. This was menacing, and a change from the last few years. He made no effort even to pretend this was anything other than his people, with guns, taking on his opponent.
This is Fascism.
Trump is a populist and autocratic political leader who always wears the same outfit, a uniform of sorts. Just like the early German Brown Shirts, and Italian Black Shirts, Trump’s followers wear red hats, a uniform to show who is in, and who is not.
Trump effectively now has a personal militia, armed men in uniform who intimidate his opponents, intimidate voters, and may yet take to the streets to defend him. America’s 2nd Amendment, already misunderstood to devastating effect, has been turned against the Constitution. It was never meant to allow an autocrat to flood the streets with his own private army.
Historic Fascism consisted of a leader in a uniform, and paramilitaries in adopted uniforms. They intimidated and eventually killed political opponents, and intimidated voters. This really is no different. The uniform is different — Trump’s red tie and long coat, his followers in their red MAGA hats, but otherwise this the beginnings of Fascism.
If Trump manages to cling onto power, this is the direction America will take. Trump and his armed paramilitaries will believe they are unstoppable, and they will not stop. They will know they can evade the law, they can pack the courts, and can defeat the system. Their self-belief will mirror that of the political movements of the 1930s, and they will accelerate towards the destruction wrought by cult-like groups who believe they own destiny.
If you haven’t voted yet, this is why you must vote now. You are not voting for Biden, you are voting for America, for the Constitution, and for freedom.