Do the ever-present warnings from the left that Trump is a fascist sound like the paranoid delusions of the Republicans who have spent the last 8 years describing Obama as a communist?
Only time will tell.
Barack Obama has not attempted to bring about a socialist workers’ revolution during his eight years in office. Obamacare was his Big Socialist Policy and it is a compromised husk of his original vision for socialised healthcare. He has been powerless to make progress towards controlling guns but hawkish in his use of drones and surveillance. His personal views are probably to the left of what the US system of government has allowed him to be as president. Those shrill right-wing voices in 2008 warning of a socialist revolution were basing their fears on campaign rhetoric, on Obama’s youthful idealogy, and the pronouncements of his more extreme supporters.
Obama has been thwarted by Congress and the vested interests that control US Politics. He was never going to try to implement the plans of his most strident supporters, and perhaps we should give Trump the same benefit of the doubt Rather than hold him to fulfilling the fantasies of his more crazed supporters, should we not wait judge him on his actions? Let’s see how his administration deals with the molasses of DCs bureacracy. Perhaps he will mellow into the centre-ground, show the pragmatism of the deal-making businessman, rather than the immovable demagogue.
Trump’s and appointments so far do not point towards a massive lurch to the centre. He is an unpleasant right-wing populist who has surrounded himself with thoroughly unpleasant group comprising of white supremacists, oligarchs and ultra-orthodox conservatives. He is clearly on a path towards an administration of populist fascism. His rhetoric gives succour to thugs and terrorists whilst maintaining a veneer or plausible deniablity. Trump does not yet have an Brownshirted militia, but there are probably many who would volunteer and he has done nothing to disuade them yet.
The best we can hope for is that his initial appointments are the quid pro quos of the election cycle. Repaying his campaign supporters with a few months in post and before firing the more embarrasing advisors in favour of the Washington insiders he will need offer deals to keep Congress sweet. And so his swamp shall overflow.
I have no optimism for the Trump Presidency, the best we can hope for is that in four years time we can look back with relief that he was not as bad as he could have been. In the meantime, if he acts as a fascist we need to fight and oppose him. Until then we should avoid crying wolf over every dumb tweet he publishes. We should maintain a dignity that his supporters failed to show in their opposition to Obama.
If and when Trump enacts a policy that is undoubtedly fascistic, we should hold him and his supporters to account. But until then we should avoid over-stating, misrepresenting or sinking to his level.