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The Continuing Rise of American-style Fascism


Yesterday, Tucker Carlson, in the process of attacking opponents of Brett “Yalie MacYaleface” Kavanaugh, had this to say:

You can see in the protests by the way, these are not the children of the working class. These are not people who took time off from HVAC school to go protest or block traffic. These are the kids of orthodontists and lawyers and sort of, professionals.

I’m sure Carlson, whose hardscrabble working-class background is the stuff of legend, chose those two professions completely at random. They certainly did not come to mind  because, for people of his age, they are both stereotypical occupations of successful Jews.

Today, hopped up on Fox News and the collective effervescence of his Redcap rallies, Tweeted this:

This is the first time that Trump has mentioned the ((Soros)) conspiracy in one of his Tweets, so it marks a rite of passage for the President of the United States as he converges on the rhetoric of the extremist transnational right. I’ll outsource this to some of my academic friends:

I’ve discussed before why this matters. Indeed, if you haven’t read my 2017 post on the right-wing war on George Soros and how it mainstreams anti-semitism, please do.

But rising anti-semitism is only part of the story. It’s another indicator that we are staring into the abyss. The United States is closing its doors to refugees during a global refugee crisis. Our government operates concentration camps for brown children. My partner broke down in tears yesterday after buying a ticket for a four-year old Guatemalan child to be reunited with their deported parents, because this is what our country has become. We are being led by a criminally corrupt demagogue who is shifting his party toward American-style fascism. And for what? So that “mainstream” conservatives can get their tax cuts and their justices. Put simply, Mitch McConnell and his cronies believe that Brett “I like beer” Kavanaugh is worth a little ethnic cleansing.

I know some people have brushed off the 2016-2017 warnings of political scientists (among others) about the precarious state of the American polity. I mean, we’ve gone a whole two years and the opposition party is poised to win one of the chambers of the legislature, so everything is fine, amirite?

Meanwhile, how the Republicans counter-attacked on Kavanaugh is nothing but a dry run for defending Trump. Perhaps even more disturbing, the sham FBI investigation  that concluded yesterday suggests that the Trump administration is finally figuring out how to use hybrid-regime tactics in pursuit of its political objectives. This is a deeply worrisome development, especially given that Trump really wants to purge the Department of Justice of anyone who thwarts his autocratic impulses.

Even if we prevail in 2020, American democracy will continue to stand at the precipice. As Christopher R. Browning notes in a disturbing comparison of the present moment to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s:

No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends, the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics. A highly politicized judiciary will remain, in which close Supreme Court decisions will be viewed by many as of dubious legitimacy, and future judicial appointments will be fiercely contested. The racial division, cultural conflict, and political polarization Trump has encouraged and intensified will be difficult to heal. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and uncontrolled campaign spending will continue to result in elections skewed in an unrepresentative and undemocratic direction. Growing income disparity will be extremely difficult to halt, much less reverse.

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