WashPost Asks: 'How Fascist Is Donald Trump?' Answer: 'Semi-Fascist'

October 24th, 2016 7:13 AM

The Washington Post “Fact Checker” uses a Pinocchio scale to determine how much politicians are lying. In Sunday’s Post, they suggested Donald Trump can be measured in “Benitos” in the article “How fascist is Donald Trump?” On some measurements of fascism, he’s four Mussolinis.

The article’s author is Georgetown historian John McNeill, whose specialty is environmental history (think Al Gore), not European political history. But he wrote “thoughtful people” can agree there’s a lot of fascism in Trump. He began:

“Donald Trump is a fascist” sounds more like a campaign slogan than an analysis of his political program. But it’s true that the GOP nominee doesn’t fit into America’s conventional party categories, and thoughtful people — authors Robert Kagan and Jeffrey Tucker, among others — have hurled the f-word at him.

Now try to imagine the Post back in 2008 finding an expert to award one to four Stalins in asking the question "How communist is Obama?" That would sound like wild-eyed ideological birtherism. Dear Posties: Look at yourselves in the mirror. This is where O'Neill smears Trump as seriously four-Benitos fascist:

 5. Fetishization of masculinity. Fascists trumpeted what they saw as masculine virtues and supported male authority within family and society, urging women to confine their sphere to home and children (the more of which the better). Trump shares much of this outlook, lauding his own stamina and accusing his femalerival, Hillary Clinton, of lacking it. He mocks men whom he deems deficient in virility. But whereas Mussolini liked to hold up his own mother, devoted to home and hearth, as the feminine ideal, Trump’s vision of the proper woman seems to be a supermodel, more in line with Hugh Hefner’s ideology than Mussolini’s. Nonetheless, on swaggering machismo he gets full marks. Four Benitos.

6. Leader cult. Fascists always looked to a leader who was bold, decisive, manly, uncompromising and cruel when necessary — because the parlous state of the nation required such qualities. Mussolini and Hitler, both veterans of World War I, drew their models of leadership from army officers and worked hard to polish their images as dauntless rulers beholden to no one. They encouraged their followers to idolize them as Il Duce and der Führer. They claimed special insight into the will of the people. Trump, although not a war veteran, fully embraces the cult of the leader. He offers his business experience as evidence of his decisive leadership and is very testy when his business acumen is doubted. He also claims to channel the common man, enjoying a connection all other politicians lack. Four Benitos.

7. Lost-golden-age syndrome. Italian and German fascism shared a strong commitment to the notion of national rebirth. Mussolini and Hitler encouraged their supporters to believe in lost (or stolen) greatness, in a glorious past. That could be long ago, as with the Roman Empire, which Mussolini liked to invoke, or only a couple of decades prior, as with the German Reich that was, according to Hitler, “stabbed in the back” in 1918. Trump makes this appeal to a golden age the centerpiece of his campaign, assuring audiences that only he can “make America great again.” Four Benitos.

McNeill found Trump only rated 26 out of 44 Benitos, so he's only semi-fascist. He admits this article isn't very complex, but hey, don't blame the expert. "Trump doesn't do nuance," so why should college professors?

A longer list, too, might add refinement and complexity. But Trump does not do nuance. A crude, quick and flippant assessment is what he deserves. He is semi-fascist: more fascist than any successful American politician yet, and the most dangerous threat to pluralist democracy in this country in more than a century, but — thank our stars — an amateurish imitation of the real thing.