In recent months, it has become increasingly clear that the MAGA movement of President Donald Trump has begun to exhibit characteristics of the fascist movements of the past century. Now, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has explicitly said that this was true and has refused to back down from her statement.
What is Fascism?
The definition of fascism is typically not agreed upon; however there are a few common characteristics. For one, totalitarianism- fascist regimes seek complete control over their population through forceful policing of everyday life. Since the Trump administration has been criticized for limiting immigration (to countries in which Trump has either developed business ties or once had investments), enforcing stricter sentencing for crimes that disproportionately impact people of color (i.e., low-level drug crimes) and other forms of governmental discrimination and infringement on civil liberties (i.e., climate change denialism), they clearly qualify as fascists by these standards.
The second characteristic is nationalism- fascist regimes seek to unify their nation on a single ideology, typically focusing on aspects of that country’s culture or history. In American history, fascism has manifested in white supremacy and xenophobia and can be clearly seen in Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanics and Muslims. Additionally, Trump’s campaign slogan Make America Great Again seems eerily similar to Hitler’s Make Germany Great Again when translated into English. Lastly fascists often promote hypermasculinity which arguably describes many prominent Republican politicians
Definition of Trump
The president’s frequent tweeting and bad-mouthing of perceived enemies have caused many to speculate that he has a personality disorder called malignant narcissism. His desires for absolute power and control over the United States as well as his constant projection of how successful he is contribute to the speculation. The president’s unwillingness to apologize for his comments about Charlottesville incited outrage from across the nation.
This type of behavior is characteristic of a fascist dictator, said Allison Matherly, spokeswoman for Trump’s doctor. It’s very alarming how quickly his condition has deteriorated.
Definition of MAGA
The acronym MAGA can stand for many things. The phrase was popularized in reference to the Trump administration’s slogan Make America Great Again during his 2016 campaign and election. As the first letter of the word is capitalized, it is unclear whether MAGA only refers to what makes America great, or if it is short for make America great again.
First and foremost, it appears that being a MAGA Republican equates with being fascist by definition. Fascism has been defined as a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government.
The MAGA movement clearly fits into that definition. Not only does Donald Trump directly control what people can and cannot say, he also wants more authoritarian powers for himself. He has made repeated calls for tighter libel laws so he can sue news organizations and media personalities who criticize him. He has suggested changing U.S law to allow prosecution of his political opponents. He personally attacks members of congress who do not do what he tells them or if they disagree with him in any way at all while completely ignoring everyone else (also known as despot behavior).
Examples of fascist behavior by Trump
Trump and his administration have been criticized for a number of fascist policies. He used what the Harvard Law Review deemed overtly racist speech throughout his campaign. Trump has stated in the past that he is committed to overturning Roe v. Wade and other rulings which give women access to abortion services. And just last month, the Department of Health and Human Services was instructed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar II to stop contracting with health care providers that mention LGBTQ services or abortions. On December 5th, Trump tweeted about how he wants this Christmas season filled with GOOD JOY, including wishing Merry Christmas America! despite not having actually accomplished anything good for Americans in 2018.