It is not as if Republicans are not already displaying signs of completely embracing blatant fascism; even a couple of conservatives have noticed. Donald Trump and his GOP brethren may be the fascists du jour, but they would be considered raging extremist outliers if not for Ronald Reagan and a veritable parade of conservative fascists setting the conditions for their Trump types to succeed. Fascism, especially in a liberal democracy like America’s, takes time to get a firm grip on the population and for the past thirty or so years Republicans have conditioned the population to accept the inevitable destruction of their liberal democratic society.
There is a carefully thought out and nicely articulated essay here about how fascism can rise; even in stable democratic republics like America. The gist of the piece is that there are four stages that lead to the decimation of a decent society and it is like perusing the Republican agenda over the past thirty-some years that began with conservative demigod Ronald Reagan. Over the course of those 35 years, the GOP and conservative movement have successfully ramped up their devastation and created the terror of men like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz; two men who, like all Republicans, advocate for fascist policies that will lead to America’s demise.
What is particularly interesting about the GOP’s drift toward fascism is that they have deftly maneuvered through three of the four steps that enable fascists to emerge victorious concurrently. However, although there are so-called “steps” to fascism, the primary component is extremism; the definitive descriptor of the Republican Party in particular and the conservative movement in general. It is important to note that between the 1950s and late 1970s America experienced its greatest economic growth and prosperity due to government spending in what can be labeled a uniquely American “social contract where economic growth was shared broadly by the average American;” that contract went straight to the proverbial Hell when “the average household began to fall behind the rest of the advanced world in simple human terms like healthcare, education, and savings;” that economic fall is the direct result of conservative’s truly extremist economic agenda.
Ronald Reagan ushered in the first step, economic stagnation, when his extremist “trickle down” economic theory was imposed on the nation. Since Reagan, incomes have fallen to the point that the once great American middle class, a majority of the population, is now a minority according to Pew Research. Whether it will exist in a decade is highly doubtful; that is how long Republicans will control Congress and prohibit the government from doing anything to stop the complete and utter corporatization of America and death of the middle class. A minimum wage increase is about as remote as a Republican opposing tax cuts for the rich or more subsidies for big oil. And with Republicans taking over more state legislatures than ever before, economic stagnation is here to stay and the lurch toward fascism will only get faster.
The second stage, one Republicans ran concurrently while transferring income from the poor and middle class to the rich and corporations with trickle-down economics is demagoguery. Americans tend to thrive when they have an enemy to hate, and Republicans have skillfully made other Americans their base’s most hated enemy. It is not just minorities, immigrants, and other poor people the GOP base hates; it is the shrinking middle class of Americans who still, miraculously, earn a living wage that Republicans successfully convince their supporters is why they still live in poverty. It is what makes demagogues so appealing; they target a minority, or “the other” as “poisoning society and draining resources” the base are being deprived of; and the ignorant and hateful base has fallen for the ruse every time over the course of three decades. It is not worth the time or words to point out how Republicans have targeted everyone from the poor, women, gays, the middle class, minorities, immigrants, and of course, Democrats for why the GOP base is wallowing in despair and why that base has to forfeit more of their dwindling assets to the rich.
The third step to fascism is tyranny. Part and parcel of a demagogue’s success is “defining who is inferior, who is superior, and who deserves to prosper and succeed.” It is why Republicans spent the past six-and-a-half years defining who are the real Americans, the inheritors of America’s destiny, and above all who is the superior. It is why Republicans spend no small amount of their time elevating white people, religious-extremists, the rich and corporations as owners of the “American dream” to the exclusion of all other groups. Up to this point, Republicans have successfully completed the third step to fascism and they are in the process of completing the fourth; self-destruction.
Tragically, America is already on a path of destruction with no involvement or input whatsoever from outside sources or foreign governments. At this point in time, it is safe to say that American society, a one-time civilized society, is now actively destroying itself because, “No civilized society can even entertain the suggestion of expelling, jailing, or murdering its own citizens for no good reason and stay civilized.” That society can, however, justify the conditions occurring in America particularly as what it takes to achieve racial purity, religious perfection, and a path toward a glorious destiny. To America’s fascist crowd that glorious destiny is a white Christian nation run like a corporation; a decidedly fascist corporation.
As most sane Americans realize, it would be impossible for fascism to ever rear its head in a liberal democracy without an extremist element first setting the conditions for economic decline and then focusing the populace’s attention on various “others” as the reason they are impoverished. As the Census Bureau reported last month, due to Reagan Republicans’ extremist trickle-down economics, about half of America is now impoverished due to stagnating wages and the demise of the once-vaunted American social contract that “economic growth was shared broadly by everyone.” Those days are long gone and as the number of Americans wallowing in poverty increases, fascist Republican demagogues will identify more “others” for their base to hate and pledge their allegiance to the Republican fascists who promise to destroy the other like they are destroying American society for their wealthy fascist benefactors.