What does it mean for a country to fall into fascism?
Is it always the overt authoritarianism of Hitler’s Germany or Putin’s Russia?
Or is there a broader continuum, stretching from their all-encompassing control to the softer versions practiced by Orban’s Hungary or Erdoğan’s Turkey?
And, where does the U.S. now stand on that scale?
One common feature of all these regimes seems to be a sort of tipping point, a place from which, once reached, there is no more going back.
Have we reached it yet?
If not, how close have we come?
Anyone paying the least bit of attention to the January 6th Committee hearings will know that if Trump had had his way after losing the 2020 election we would have gone over the edge.
If just two or three more people had caved to Trump’s pressure, his coup might have worked, and our Republic might have been irrecoverably lost.
Also, bear in mind that the game ain’t over yet. Trump remains unindicted and still seems to have at least thirty percent of the American population following blindly along behind him.
Armed to the teeth.
And many of them spoiling for a fight.
Think you know just how bad the situation really is?
Take a look at this recent article in the New Yorker laying out the threat to democracy posed by the rise in “White Christian Nationalism,” a force which, “is right now evolving into a deeply anti-democratic ideology, one that really is driving some of the most radical fringe groups in the United States today, including many mainstream political candidates in the Republican Party.”
Oh, and it turns out that gun fetishism seems to be a key feature of their theology. Its adherents include not just numerous owners of AR-15 type assault rifles, but their manufacturers as well. To quote a short passage from a recent New York Times article on the subject:
According to a Public Religion Research Institute study, evangelicals have a higher rate of gun ownership than other religious groups. Across the country, they account for a significant share not only of the demand but of the supply.
In Florida, Spike’s Tactical (“the finest AR-15s on the planet”) makes a line of Crusader weapons adorned with a quote from the Psalms. Missouri-based CMMG (“the leading manufacturer of AR15 rifles, components and small parts”) advertises its employees’ “commitment to meet each and every morning to pray for God’s wisdom in managing the enormous responsibility that comes with this business.” And in Colorado, Cornerstone Arms explains that it is so named because “Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our business, our family and our lives” and the “Second Amendment to our Constitution is the cornerstone of the freedom we enjoy as American citizens.”
Back in the 1930’s, Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis predicted how fascism could come to the U.S. in his best-selling book, “It Can’t Happen Here.” Although there is some disagreement about whether Lewis himself actually used the expression, his argument is summed up by the statement that, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
How right he was. For proof, look no further than the January 6th attack on the Capitol. We all saw the crosses, “Christian” flags and signs with biblical references widely displayed along with all the Trump banners and flags. But if you’d like to know more about just how integral White Christian Nationalism was to the insurrection, check out this in-depth report by a group of scholars in the field.
Not all Christian Nationalists look like the mob that stormed the capitol, however.
In the wake of last week’s decision throwing out Roe v. Wade, we now know that five of them dress in solemn robes and serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Make no mistake, people will die because of their ruling as surely as if they had been shot with an AR-15.
Some say they will stop there and wouldn’t dream of going after other rights many of us now hold dear…or at least respect…including non-binary sex, gay or interracial marriage, birth control and who knows what else. If you’re in that group, I’ve got a bridge or two I’d love to sell you.
Meanwhile, at the state and local level, right-wing activists are doing everything they can to ensure that their preferred candidates will never lose an election again, regardless of the votes.
So where exactly do we stand now on the march-to-fascism scale?
Brown shirted thugs?
An army of blood and soil religious fanatics activated?
Corruption of the media?
Corruption of the military and security services?
Not yet higher up in the chain of command (we hope) but there seems to be a lot at the individual level.
Dictator in charge?
One election away.
So what do we do about it?
First – recognize that this is NOT normal. Not even close.
Even if the bullets haven’t started flying yet, Civil War 2.0 has begun. The business-as-usual approaches of the past aren’t going to save our republic.
Second – FIGHT. Be creative. Be bold. Think outside the box and don’t worry now about dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.
Put abortion clinics in every post office, military base, and federal courthouse in states with anti-choice laws. Station federal troops there to protect them if needed.
Encourage Indian reservations, which run their own governments, to establish abortion service centers.
Indict Trump and his cronies for everything. Tie them up with so much litigation they don’t have time to breathe, let alone plot another coup.
Freeze their assets. All their assets. The Trumps have been acting like a crime family for years. Time to start treating them like one.
Find a way to get voting rights legislation passed – especially limiting voter suppression and banning gerrymandering.
Take a page out of Beto O’Rourke’s book and get in their faces.
If a legal fig leaf can be found, ask Stephen Breyer to rescind his retirement and stay on as a tenth Supreme Court Justice after Ketanji Brown Jackson assumes her seat, thus adding another much-needed liberal to the mix. When Mitch McConnell starts screaming, just tell him that turnabout’s fair play.
We need our leaders to act like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not Neville Chamberlain.
Third – Attack the theology of the Christian Nationalists. Whatever it might be, their belief system is NOT Christianity and they shouldn’t be allowed to pretend it is.
Call them out for the frauds they are.
Crossposted from BuzzFlash