Last week … or was it the week before? Time seems to have a way of escaping and slipping through my fingers these days. Anyway … recently, I wrote about the Republican outrage against President Biden when, in a speech, he referred to “maga-Republicans” as semi-fascist and a threat to democracy. I thought I was done with that topic … the Republican outrage is … ho hum … nothing new. They are outraged that their hero might actually pay a price for his felonies, his crimes against the people of this nation. They are outraged that schools actually teach … GASP … history! (Since this came as news to them, we can only assume they didn’t study history in their earlier years.) They are outraged that federal tax dollars go to help people in need. They are just outraged in general from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep at night. It seems to be requisite for being a member in good standing of the Republican Party. The President has a job to do … he shouldn’t have to walk on tippy-toe so as not to offend this gang of crybabies!
As I said (I tend to digress … did you notice?) I thought I was finished with that topic, but last night I came across Bill Press’ insightful article on this topic, and thought his was one well worth sharing, worth revisiting the topic just once more. He hits the nail squarely on the head in answering the question about whether maga-Republicans are, in fact, driving the nation toward fascism, and does so with a bit of humour.
If the semi-fascist shoe fits, wear it!
06 September 2022
Even veteran political reporters admit they’ve never seen politics as ugly as it is today. But, still, every once in a while, we get a big belly laugh. Like last week, after President Biden remarked that the “extreme MAGA philosophy” of Donald Trump and his followers is “like semi-fascism.”
In response, Republicans exploded. How dare Biden engage in such name-calling, they thundered. This, mind you, from MAGA Republicans who, following the example of their “dear leader,” excel in name-calling. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) compared the Biden administration to “Marxist dictatorships.” On Fox News, right-wing commentator Mollie Hemingway called Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine plan a “fascist move.” And at an August 2020 campaign rally, Donald Trump warned that Joe Biden would “replace American freedom with left-wing fascism. Left-wing. We’re going left-wing all the way. Fascists! They are fascists!”
In other words, it’s OK for Republicans to call Democrats “fascists,” but President Biden must apologize to the nation — Or resign? Be impeached? — for suggesting that MAGA Republicanism is semi-fascist?
But, of course, that begs the more important question: Is Biden right? And that depends on the meaning of fascism.
Most historians agree that, whether practiced by Italy’s Benito Mussolini or Germany’s Adolph Hitler in the 1930s, or by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán or Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan today, there are traits common to every fascist regime: cult-like loyalty to an autocratic leader; no parliamentary limits on a leader’s power; denial of free and fair elections; intolerance of, including violence against, political opposition; and outright racism and anti-Semitism. If you think MAGA Republicanism fits the bill, you’re right.
Cult-like loyalty to an autocratic leader? Check! Whether it’s attempting to bribe a foreign leader, inciting an armed mob to attack the Capitol Building, or absconding with top-secret documents, there’s nothing for which MAGA Republicans would hold Donald Trump responsible. Not even, as he suggested, shooting someone in plain sight on Fifth Avenue.
No limits on power? Check! On Jan. 6, MAGA Republicans, at Trump’s bidding, tried to prevent Congress from doing its job. Today, they still argue that Trump’s above the law when it comes to cooperating with the Justice Department.
Denial of free and fair elections? Check! As recently as his rally in Pennsylvania last Saturday, Trump still refuses to accept Biden as president. He’s hardly alone. According to FiveThirtyEight, at least 120 election deniers, whose primary purpose is to negate the 2020 election, won Republican primaries and are on the ballot in November.
Violence against political opposition? Check! Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Trump’s guest at his Pennsylvania rally, has repeatedly endorsed calls for political violence, including in 2019, when she “liked” a Facebook post suggesting a “bullet to the head” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). On Jan. 6, Trump supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned of “riots in the streets” if the Justice Department files charges against Trump in connection with stolen classified documents.
Racism and anti-Semitism? Check! Trump welcomed the support of white supremacists, issued a ban on Muslims entering the country, attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, and insisted there were “very fine people” among those who marched through Charlottesville chanting “The Jews shall not replace us.”
Which brings us back to the central question: Was President Biden right in calling the politics of Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans “semi-fascist?” No, Biden was wrong. He didn’t go far enough. Based on what they’ve said, what they’ve done, and their ongoing efforts to undermine democracy, Biden shouldn’t have called MAGA Republicans semi-fascists. He should have called them outright fascists, period.