It took a while to get used to Trump’s bombast and false narratives about everything, but what I still can’t suffer is when the same kind of exaggerated nonsense comes out of the other side. In this case I’m referring to an op-ed by Adam Weinstein in The New Republic, which unambiguously claims that Trump’s reaction to the Floyd protests heralds the coming of fascism to America writ large. Here’s how Weinstein describes the American brand: “the rise of online Trumpism, packaged and Taylorized by the Republican Party apparatus, buttressed by the right-wing media ecosphere and its funders, all in the service of an authoritarian gangster state.”
This description of the Trump-Kushner Administration’s response to the demonstrations has about as much to do with how Fascist regimes operated as the man in the moon. It’s nothing more than the liberal media’s attempt to compete with the alt-right for daily clicks and it happens to be pandering of the worst sort. Again and again I hear people like Weinstein telling us that the whole Trump-Kushner strategy is to gin up fear; fear of the Chinese, fear of ANTIFA, fear of the Deep State. This nonsense about how Trump-Kushner is nothing more than American Fascism is out of the exact, same vein.
I lived and worked in Spain from 1969 through the 1970’s – some of the worst, most repressive years of the Franco regime. So I know something about how Fascist governments operate, particularly because I spent lots of time with opponents of the regime who were finally able to exercise and express their basic human rights after the regime collapsed following Franco’s death in 1975.
Francisco came to power following his military assault on the 2nd Republican government, a civil war which began in 1936 and ended in 1939. The 2nd Republic had been the most liberal parliamentary government in Europe prior to its demise, its Constitution recognized all political parties, defunded the Catholic Church, and abolished capital punishment. Franco didn’t get rid of the Constitution, he just ignored it. He didn’t abolish Parliament, he just required that every member of the body also be a member of his Falange party, which meant the Parliament had no independent authority at all.
He also didn’t alter the judicial system except in one respect, namely, that the government could arbitrarily take anyone charged with any crime and move the proceeding into a military court. And while the government maintained the prohibition on capital punishment, this prohibition didn’t exist in military courts. I was in Spain when a so-called Basque ‘terrorist’ was executed following a closed trial in a military court.
Here’s how the system worked. If you wanted a driver’s license, it had to be approved by a government security office to make sure that anti-government agitators couldn’t travel around the country stirring up opposition to the regime. If you wanted a passport it also needed to be approved by the police. The government owned and ran the two television stations, every program was censored, ditto all movies, newspapers, and books. It was also understood that getting any kind of job required a personal reference from your local parish priest. I can just see Jared Kushner, the sometime Orthodox Jew, asking some Evangelical minister to attest to his behavior and faith.
What I have just described is what Fascism meant to people living under a Fascist regime. And if Weinstein and other liberal, anti-Trumpites believe that what we are seeing in the Oval Office is the beginnings of Fascism American-style, they have no idea what they are talking about. What we are seeing is a President who started running for a second term the day after he was inaugurated for his first four years. It’s a wholly new and different form of Presidential behavior, and I don’t think the liberal opposition has yet to understand what it means.
What it means to me is that every, single statement made by Trump-Kushner is based on the idea that if the trailer park will come out and vote for him again in four swing states he’ll win a second term.