• Sona Chaturvedi

American Fascism

Photo Credit: Leah Mills/Reuters: Even after the events of Jan. 6, people still believe fascism can't come here.

Several American news organizations, such as the Washington Post, Politico and a handful of others, have argued fascism cannot happen here. Talk shows, such as Morning Joe, often say our institutions will hold. They point to the fact that the judicial branch of government did not yield to any of Donald Trump’s farcical antics during his failed attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election. These dismissals are the equivalent of burying your head in the sand. All it would take is a few judges and election supervisors to rule the other way, and everything changes. That’s not the sign of a strong democracy. It’s the sign of a weak one. No one knows yet what will occur in the future, and the future is looking scarier and scarier. Not many people foresaw the GOP’s near total capitulation to Trump during his administration. Republicans were already on their way toward autocracy pre-Trump, however, most of us expected them to hold him to at least some level of accountability, if not while in office definitely after he left. This hasn’t happened, and Republicans continue to kiss the ring of the failed wannabe dictator and Mar-a-Lago blogger. Even precursory research into what other countries think yields much different results than the mainstream American press. Nations such as Norway, Denmark, Spain, France and Germany, among others, say it absolutely can happen here and is happening here. Just recently, in an article for ScienceNorway.no, Cathrine Thorleifsson, a researcher in extreme right-wing behavior, explains how democracies erode. She argues: ”The years of the Trump presidency illustrate that even consolidated democracies like the U.S are not exceptional. They can die. “Over the past months and years, scholars have warned about the rise of authoritarian regimes in the U.S. and analyzed varieties of erosion of democracy in countries such as Brazil, India, Turkey and Hungary. Democracies die slowly, authoritarianism and fascism can come creeping, and coup attempts can take time.” The unsuccessful insurrection we had on January 6 was just a test run. It really wasn’t a failure, given that members of Congress and the Senate, who allegedly helped put it in motion, have yet to face any accountability. The January 6th commission may provide some answers. What is evident is that most in the GOP are defending what happened and fabricating stories as to who was behind it, likening it to a vacation, and going as far as attacking the officers who saved their lives. One act of bipartisanship can’t save democracy. President Joe Biden persuaded some Republicans to move his infrastructure bill. It is a great accomplishment, but one that won’t matter if the GOP establishes permanent minority rule. A real democracy does not prevent a large percentage of its citizens from voting. That’s what authoritarian countries do, and it’s happening here. Nothing else matters. The administration can pass any groundbreaking number of bills. But without the right of each and every eligible citizen to vote, it will mean nothing. The GOP is unapologetically trying to put the country on an autocratic course in which it will decide who maintains power. Not only does it want to bring back Jim Crow-type laws, it wants absolute power. In other words, why have elections at all? Why even go through it if Republicans will just steal every election? Tucker Carlson of “Fox News,” recently took a trip to Hungary and met with the authoritarian leader there. It is rumored Carlson has plans to run for president in 2024. So why is he going to an authoritarian nation? To convince Americans this is the way of the future without mentioning the word fascism. The red flags are everywhere. In her book Hiding in Plain Sight, journalist Sarah Kendzior warns us the road to autocracy in the U.S. is paved with complacency. Similar warnings have come from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Yale professor Timothy Snyder. Countless world leaders have seen the signs. Especially those who have lived under fascist rule. It’s past time to not only listen but act. The alternative will be an America we no longer recognize, and once that happens it will be too late to regain our footing. To those who say it can’t happen here, it has happened here. White nationalism was codified under the guise of Jim Crow. In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler looked to America. He used our racism as a model for Germany. Incredibly, if we don’t fight it, 2022 could be America's last free-and-fair election. It’s fascism or democracy, and it’s a choice for now.