Trumpism and the F-Word

It is dangerous to use a loaded term like “fascism,” but it is also risky to ignore the fact that Trumpism comes dangerously close.

No, Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler, and Trumpists are not Nazis; neither are those who advocate for vaccine passports. Nothing is easier — and less useful — than throwing exaggerated epithets into political debates. But we must not forget the lessons of history, for many of the characteristics of Trumpism are reminiscent of darker episodes.

Petty Exaggerations

Jacques Parizeau was fond of quoting Talleyrand, who said, “All that is exaggerated is insignificant.” He was right. For all his faults, Trump is not Hitler and his supporters are not Nazis.

Nevertheless, more and more political analysts, on both the left and right, do not hesitate to point out troubling parallels between Trumpism and certain fascist or populist authoritarian movements on the right.

The F-Word

This is the case for David Frum, a former adviser to George W. Bush, who describes in a recent article the hints of fascism — or at least Peronism — in several Republican actions. He is not alone. Many historians and political scientists make similar observations.

When Trump caricatures his opponents as far-left radicals and calls the media the enemy of the people, we hear echoes of Benito Mussolini calling all his opponents Bolsheviks, and see other autocrats muzzling the press.

Republicans could have renounced Trumpism after November 2020. Instead, they reaffirmed that their party is a cult of personality, where every elected official must bow down to the “emperor in exile” at Mar-A-Lago and adhere to the “Big Lie” of his stolen victory. For Trumpism, this lie is akin to the founding myths of the fascists. Because Democrats are seen as traitors to the nation, Republicans have no qualms about increasing barriers to voting for the Democrats’ minority or disadvantaged supporters.

The self-justification of using violence to seize political power is another feature of fascism. Traces of this can be seen in the trivialization — or even defense — by many Republicans of the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Trump still praises the rioters who responded to his call, and congressional Republicans will do anything to obstruct the investigation into these tragic events.

History Rhymes

To harangue Trumpists with the “F-word” is counterproductive, but to understand Trumpism is essential.

The Trumpists who deserve this reviled label are far from the majority of the electorate, but by infiltrating the Republican Party, they have managed to normalize ideas and practices that have in the past managed to extinguish democracy.

History does not necessarily repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

The risk of failure of the American democratic experiment is neither exaggerated nor insignificant, and we must not be afraid of the words that say so.

About this publication

About Mollie Lippett 40 Articles
I am a British freelance translator and subtitler based in the UK. I have a BA in Modern Languages and Translation from the Univerity of Nottingham and am currently studying for an MA in Translation Studies. I work as a professional translator and subtitler working from both French and Spanish into English.

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