American Culture

Donald Trump is still a fascist – Part Four

Kevin Passmore’s definition of fascism has ten characteristics split across five main areas. Donald matches or partially matches all of the characteristics.

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

In 2016, I reviewed Kevin Passmore’s definition of fascism from his book, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction. I identified a total of ten different characteristics, and concluded that Donald matched six of them, partially matched three others, and didn’t match one. On this basis, I concluded that Donald was probably a proto-fascist – someone who harbored fascist ideals, but was not yet a full-blown fascist.

Since Donald took office on January 20, 2017, his behavior has been awful. While his actions were obviously and explicitly fascistic in some cases, most of Donald’s actions were not obviously fascist. Instead, they fit a fascist pattern. When I analyzed Donald’s overall behavior, I found that he now matches eight of Passmore’s characteristics and partially matches two. This is a significant shift rightward and shows that Donald is no longer a mere proto-fascist according to Passmore’s definition – Donald is a full-fledged fascist.

While there are ten characteristics in Passmore’s definition, they divide up relatively neatly into a few categories: how fascism defines “the Nation,” fascism’s opposition to socialism and feminism, the political structure of fascism, fascism’s ideological flexibility, and fascist policies for the people.

The Nation, as defined by fascism

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms [1], above all other sources of loyalty [2], and to create a mobilized national community [3].

The first of Passmore’s characteristics is that fascism defines its nation “in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms.” Donald’s particular fascism is explicitly white, fundamentalist and nominally evangelical Christian, and built on the ideal of American exceptionalism.

The New England Patriots kneel during the National Anthem (Image credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)

Over the last year, Donald has demonstrated repeatedly that his ideal America is white-dominant if not actually white-only. Donald has rejected that refugees historically bring economic benefits to the country and he only wants refugees who can assimilate in to existing US culture. Donald has repeatedly instituted policies that persecute legal immigrants, he ended temporary protected status for Hondurans, and he demonstrated racism toward Puerto Rican latino/latina US citizens. Donald has demonstrated his racism toward blacks as well – he called African countries “shitholes,” shut down a Housing and Urban Development community desegregation program, attacked Harvard’s affirmative action policies, and repeatedly mischaracterized and attacked black NFL players who have been protesting police violence by kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance. Donald revealed his disdain for Native Americans when he ignored the genocide of Native Americans wreaked by Columbus on Columbus Day and when he honored Navajo Code Talkers in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the President most responsible for the US military’s genocide of Native Americans. Overall, in the last year, Donald has shown he’s racist against non-whites 319 times, has engaged in race-baiting 48 times, and supported white supremacy 69 times (although there is some overlap between the categories). The evidence is overwhelming that Donald’s Presidency is focused predominantly on white people.

Values in Donald’s America are largely defined by conservative, evangelical Christian values. Donald has attacked birth control education and eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control coverage requirement for all health plans. He has not only attacked marriage equality personally, but also nominated at least one Administration official who claimed gay marriage is “against God’s plan.” Donald’s Administration is explicitly homophobic and transphobic. Donald is Islamophobic and rejects pluralism. Donald is trying to overturn the Johnson Amendment, which restricts churches from preaching politics from the pulpit and still claim IRS tax exemption. And he moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a goal of evangelicals who believe that their support for Israel will make the Rapture happen sooner. Donald himself may or may not be an evangelical Christian, but his policies and speeches have strongly aligned him with the cultural values of evangelical Christians.

Donald’s ideal America is based on American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States has been blessed by God or our founders in some manner and that blessing make us better than all other nations. This shows most clearly in the actions Donald has taken in service of his “America First” and “Making America Great Again” goals. Donald’s America First agenda has been seen in his meetings with our economic partners in Asia, during the Davos meeting in January, with respect to the Iran nuclear deal, and repeatedly toward the United Nations and various of it’s organizations. The White House published a list of actions taken since Donald took office that supposedly made American great again. Those actions include, but are not limited to, touting his reverse-Robin Hood tax cuts, falsely claiming that Donald has created “unprecedented” new jobs since taking office, eliminating public health regulations that target water pollution from coal ash, reducing consumer protections like net neutrality, defanging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, protecting the US-Mexico border by destroying potable water and other aid left for dying migrants in the Arizona desert, and restoring the respect of the US by cozying up to right-wing politicians and strongmen.

Donald matched Passmore’s first characteristic in 2016, and he still matches it today.

Passmore’s second characteristic is that fascism places loyalty to the nation “above all other sources of loyalty.” While there are lots of examples of average citizens calling Donald’s opponents “unAmerican,” there are very few if any examples of Donald, his Administration, or his close allies doing the same. There are lots of examples of powerful individuals who support Donald’s personally or his policies even though those policies run counter to their values. For example, the Republican party has talked about purging donors who were “never Trumpers” or even just unenthusiastic about Donald’s candidacy. Rank-and-file Republicans are tremendously loyal to Donald himself, as the fact that 14 of 15 primary candidates Donald endorsed this year won their primaries.

Evangelicals like Franklin Graham have remained overwhelmingly supportive of Donald and his policies, with some supporting blatantly unChristian policies like family separation and deportation of parents without their children by claiming Jesus himself wouldn’t cross the border illegally. Loyalty to Donald’s white, Christian, and exceptionalist vision for America has Congressional Republicans calling to “cleanse” the FBI, and Donald’s himself has said black NFL players protesting police violence against blacks “shouldn’t be in the country.”

Donald expectation of personal loyalty has led him to impose or propose loyalty tests at the State Department, the FBI, and the Department of the Interior. He’s required White House employees to sign potentially illegal non-disclosure agreements. And then there are the displays of slavish loyalty by Vice-President Pence and the Cabinet – loyalty that Donald only ever expects to flow one way, as his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others have shown.

Donald matched the second category – demanding loyalty to his fascist vision for America – in 2016, but he matches it even more closely now.

Redwing nuclear test (image credit: planetdeadly.com)

Passmore’s third characteristic is the creation of a “mobilized national community” where every person finds “fulfillment in service to the regime” and that the people of a fascist nation are always ready for action, and especially ready for war.

Donald called for, and received, a significant increase in military spending that raised pay for warfighters, increased the size of the military, and added billions of dollars for new ships, aircraft, etc. He wants to create a new branch of the military, a “space force” that might run afoul of treaties that prohibit the militarization of space. He initially wanted a massive increase in the size of the US nuclear arsenal. And he’s lifted limits put in place by former President Obama that restricted the amount and type of military equipment that could be sold to police departments.

The Proud Boys engage in a street fight in Portland (Image Credit: John Rudoff/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock)

White supremacists are highly energized by Donald’s actions. For example, former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke said that the white supremacists who attended the Charlottesville rally in 2017 voted for Donald “because he said he’s going to take our country back.” Other white supremacists like the Proud Boys (who, along with Patriot Prayer, have held several rallies in Portland and New York City, many of which turned violent) drive around with Confederate flags and Donald Trump flags on their vehicles and attack anyone who criticizes them for doing so. And then there are the elderly retirees who behave almost like Twitter bots as they try to manipulate social media to be pro-Donald.

While Donald has not yet created a fully mobilized national community, the mobilization is in process and is speeding up as the midterms approach. But at the moment, Donald only partially matches this characteristic, just as he only partially matched it in 2016.

Fascism’s opposition to socialism and feminism

Fascist nationalism is reactionary in that it entails implacable hostility to socialism and feminism [4], for they are seen as prioritizing class or gender rather than nation. This is why fascism is a movement of the extreme right.

Donald and his Administration have repeatedly shown their extreme hostility to socialism, starting with their ongoing attacks on social insurance programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and the ACA. For example, the Administration has approved work requirements for Medicaid, has tried to implement lifetime limits on the amount of health insurance a Medicaid recipient can receive, and has relentlessly attacked the ACA by cutting money to help people enroll in health plans, cutting insurance company subsidies provided by federal law, among many others. And Donald is planning to consolidate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other entitlement programs into a new federal department, ostensibly to make it easier to cut these programs in the future.

EPA Seal

Donald’s demonstrated his hostility to socialism when he put Scott Pruitt in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency with the stated purpose of reversing environmental regulations that protect people but harm corporations. Pruitt disbanded multiple expert advisory panels because the panels would have opposed many regulatory changes. Pruitt also proposed that the EPA be unable to use any science based on data not in the public domain, an proposal that would result in the EPA having to ignore most scientific studies using redacted personal information like medical histories or climate research using data provided by other nations under non-disclosure agreements. The EPA even dissolved the office that tests chemicals for their toxicity to children.

Donald’s judicial nominees also show his hostility to socialism. One judge has publicly said that transgender people are part of “Satan’s plan.” Another opposed marriage equality as “against God’s plan.”. Another said that women don’t need protection from workplace discrimination.

All in all, Donald has attacked socialism 68 times by calling to repeal the ACA or by working to make it fail. He’s attacked public education 39 times, and been generally anti-intellectual 159 times. He’s attacked the environment 139 times, been anti-science 155 times, and promoted policies that will lead to greater air and water pollution 70 times. All since July 1, 2017.

But Donald isn’t just implacably hostile to socialism – he’s implacably hostile to feminism as well. We see that with his personal behavior toward individual women as well as his policies toward women in general.

As of October, 2017, at least 12 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment, assault, and/or rape. (image credit: Yahoo news)

Donald’s personal behavior towards women is both boorish and sexist. Not only has Donald had three wives, but he’s committed adultery on all three of them. His trysts with porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playmate Karen McDougal are in the process of being litigated in part because he paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep quiet, a possible breach of campaign finance laws. Donald’s lawyers are trying to have a defamation lawsuit by a woman who has accused him of sexual harassment (and whom Donald then defamed) thrown out based on Presidential executive privilege. Donald has sent sexually suggestive tweets about women politicians who oppose him. He supported Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, against credible charges of domestic abuse from both of Porter’s ex-wives and his former girlfriend. And Donald considered hiring Andy Puzder of Carl’s Jr and hired Bill Shine, formerly of Fox News, even though Puzder had been credibly accused of spousal abuse and Shine was forced out at Fox because he mishandled sexual harassment complaints.

As bad as Donald’s behavior toward individual women has been, his anti-women policies have been even worse. Donald blocked an Obama rule that would have required any organization receiving federal money pay women the same as men for the same work. Donald nominated at least one judge who has ruled against abortion, and the Department of Health and Human Services redefined life as starting at conception in a direct attack on abortion rights. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos instructed universities to stop focusing on sexual assault victims and to instead refocus the perpetrators’ rights. And Donald has repeatedly assaulted women’s healthcare by downplaying the health benefits of birth control, pushing abstinence-only sex education programs that are known to fail, and pulling money from teen pregnancy programs.

This is just a smattering of the many ways that Donald and his Administration have shown their hostility to women and feminism. Since July 1, 2017 there have been at least 126 instances of misogyny, 36 instances of targeting abortion rights, 29 instances where sexual harassment or sexual assault on women was committed, downplayed, or ignored, 10 instances where rape was soft-pedaled, and 20 instances of adultery being downplayed (with some overlap between categories).

There was little question that Donald was hostile to both socialism and feminism before the 2016 election. Since taking office, Donald’s hostility has become even more obvious and so he still matches this characteristic today.

The political structure of fascism

Fascism is also a movement of the radical right because the defeat of socialism and feminism and the creation of the mobilized nation are held to depend upon the advent to power of a new elite acting in the name of the people [5], headed by a charismatic leader [6], and embodied in a mass, militarized party. [7]

Betsy DeVos and Donald (Image Credit: from Slate)

Passmore’s fifth characteristic is the rise to power of a new elite. The new elite that Donald has brought to political power is the ultra-rich. While the ultra-rich have always had a great deal of hidden political power, the difference is that they’ve now come into the open and overtly claimed political power. Cabinet members Wilbur Ross (Department of Commerce) is worth about $800 million dollars, Steve Mnuchin (Department of the Treasury) about $500 million, and Betsy DeVos (Department of Education) about $5.2 billion. The head of the Small Business Administration is Linda McMahon, whose net worth is only about $37 million but whose husband, Vince McMahon is worth nearly $3 billion. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is worth about $300 million, former economic advisor Gary Cohn is worth about $500 million, and Jared and Ivanka Trump are worth around $750 million.

There’s another elite that Donald has brought to political power with him – evangelicals in general and prosperity gospel evangelicals in particular. Because Donald has brought them overt political power, many prominent evangelicals are loathe to criticize Donald directly. For example, Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, said that Donald’s affair with Stormy Daniels was “nobody’s business”. Jerry Falwell Jr. said that Donald reminded him of Falwell Sr and Jr. supported Donald over Jeff Sessions. Paula White made the inaugural prayer in January 2017 and has argued that it iss wrong to compare Jesus to undocumented immigrants held in border camps because Jesus wasn’t a criminal. And Mark Burns tried to defend Donald’s “shithole countries” reference to African nations by perverting the Bible. And then there are Donald’s pro-evangelical and pro-prosperity gospel prayer sessions, prayer breakfasts, religion-based discrimination, and political maneuvering.

It was clear in 2016 that Donald was building a new political elite based on evangelicals and the ultra-rich, and he has continued to do so since taking office.

Donald himself is a charismatic figure, which is Passmore’s sixth characteristic. At campaign rallies Donald is the star even when he’s there to support a Republican candidate. His Twitter feed is followed by almost 55 million people and each of his tweets is followed by hundreds if not thousands of sycophantic responses. He’s viewed by millions of men as the ultimate “alpha male” to which they should all aspire (complete with his white male privilege, repeated adultery, and ability to get away with sexual assault). And even though his “self-made billionaire” story is propaganda, tens of millions of supporters believe it and think that they, too, could become the next Donald. The greatest impact of his charisma, however, could be the fact that nearly every Republican he endorsed in special or primary elections won their election.

Donald’s charisma was obvious in 2016, and his deep support among rank-and-file Republicans show that his charisma hasn’t faded any since he took office.

The rise to power of a “mass, militarized party” is the seventh of Passmore’s characteristic. While there has not yet been an effort by the Republican Party to form a party militia (although groups like the Proud Boys are getting very close) and Republicans have not yet started breaking up Democratic party rallies with violences, Donald has something that resembles a mass militia – the NRA, local law enforcement, and the Border Patrol/ICE.

First, the National Rifle Association loves Donald. They spent $30 million to get him elected in 2016 and they invited him to speak at their annual meeting last May. The NRA boasts about having 5 million members, of which the majority (77%, or about 3.9 million, per a recent Pew poll) are Republicans. And Donald has gone out of his way to curry favor with the NRA as well, proposing to arm teachers in order to stop school shootings, allowing the mentally ill to acquire firearms, and pushing for a law that would allow concealed carry permits from any jurisdiction to apply nationwide.

Second, Donald has not only curried favor with local law enforcement, he has attacked his political opponents as being against both law and order and the police. Donald loosened limits on sales of military hardware to police that were put in place by former President Obama. Donald has perverted the peaceful and respectful protests by NFL players kneeling against police violence toward blacks into attacks on patriotism. He’s called for the failed NYPD policy of “stop and frisk” to be applied in Chicago. Donald has also falsely blamed Black Lives Matter activists for the deaths of police in 2016 and mislabeled Democrats as “anti-police” and against law-and-order. Donald’s actions have resulted in rising support among local law enforcement.

Detention camp for children in Tornillo, Texas (Image Credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)

But Donald’s policies have garnered the greatest support from the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As early as February, 2017, agents of both groups were praising Donald for taking the “shackles off individuals in these agencies,” which “encouraged pro-Trump political comments and banter that struck the officials as brazen or gung-ho, like remarks about their jobs becoming ‘fun.’” Since then, agents of the Border Patrol have tried to dump an injured man back on the Mexican side of the border, detained two US citizens at a gas station for speaking Spanish, boarded buses and demanded proof that the passengers were citizens, and other types of police misconduct. ICE has started using Facebook data to track immigrants and deporting immigrants over something as minor as a traffic offense. ICE also suspended in-person hearings for immigrants in New York City, potentially trampling immigrants’ due process guarantees in the US Constitution. Donald’s onetime nominee to head ICE, Thomas Homan, called on the Department of Justice to file criminal charges against sanctuary cities. ICE also pretended that a van filled with mothers who had been separated from their children didn’t actually crash (injuries to the detainee passengers notwithstanding). And ICE has even gone so far as to arrest undocumented immigrants who showed up to claim children who had been separated from their parent(s) by ICE in the first place.

Donald’s so-called law-and-order policies and propaganda have endeared him to local law enforcement, the Border Patrol, and ICE. His pro-gun policies and gun regulation fear mongering have endeared him to the NRA. As such, Donald hasn’t had to organize a Republican party militia thus far, because he’s laid the groundwork for something very similar in federal and local law enforcement. This approach may be even more dangerous than a party militia because it means that the people who would normally be responsible for stopping fascists might be less inclined to oppose it.

Before the 2016 election, I concluded that Donald had not yet displayed this characteristic. Since taking office, however, his overtures toward law enforcement have served much the same purpose. I’m still not ready to say that Donald matches this characteristic entirely, but he does match it partially seems to be edging closer to it every day.

Fascism’s ideological flexibility

Fascists are pushed towards conservatism by common hatred of socialism and feminism, but are prepared to override conservative interests – family, property, religion, the universities, the civil service – where the interests of the nation are considered to require it. Fascist radicalism also derives from a desire to assuage discontent by accepting specific demands of the labour and women’s movements, so long as these demands accord with the national priority. [8]

Passmore’s eighth characteristic of fascism is its ideological flexibility and pragmatism. This characteristic has two parts – fascism’s willingness to override conservative interests, defined by Passmore as family, property, religion, civil service, and universities, and fascism’s willingness to accept some “liberal” demands in the name of reducing popular discontent.

Donald has repeatedly attacked the conservative ideal of family when he felt it was in the national interest, most often with respect to immigrants. Donald’s policy of family separation was denounced by conservatives and liberals alike, yet he went forward with it because he felt it was in the national interest. Even now, months after the policy was reversed, there are more children isolated from their families in camps than ever before. Donald has restricted work visas for the spouses of immigrants with highly skilled worker H1-B visas and has discussed ending family sponsorship visas entirely. And children who have been separated from their parent(s) are increasingly at risk of being adopted into US families instead of being reunited with their parents.

US-Mexico border wall prototypes (Image Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald has been willing to override both individual and public property rights. As a private real estate developer, Donald aggressively lobbied for eminent domain so that he could claim land for his resorts. Donald plans to use eminent domain again to claim private land along the US-Mexico border for his border wall. And he touted a factory in Wisconsin that required an abuse of eminent domain to seize private land before it could be constructed. His possibly illegal reduction of the Bears Ear and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in order to allow mining in what had been protected land represents an attack on the property rights of the public as well.

At the state and local level, Donald has attacked federalism as he tries to limit the ability of state and local governments to oppose the federal government. The most significant examples at the city level are Donald’s attacks on sanctuary cities. His Administration has threatened to withhold federal law enforcement dollars, threatened to issue subpoenas, and called for the arrest of mayors of sanctuary cities. Donald supports a law that would force all cities and states to allow a concealed-carry permit issued anywhere to be honored nationwide, a change that would gut state laws and municipal codes on concealed-carry firearms. And Donald has shown repeatedly that he cares about states’ rights when he agrees with that state or when the governor is a loyal supporter. For example, Donald is trying to overrule a hard-fought energy development agreement regarding the California desert in order to give energy developers the upper hand against individuals and the state of California. He’s approved controversial offshore oil drilling nationwide, but Florida asked for and received the only exemption. Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, is a loyal supporter.

Donald has been happy to overrule the civil service as well. Donald has repeatedly called the FBI leadership and the Mueller probe corrupt. He has denigrated US intelligence agencies, once even going so far as to say he trusted Russian President Vladomir Putin more than US intelligence agencies. Donald has presided over the hollowing-out of the State Department as offices focused on international sanctions and war crimes were closed and as hundreds of senior diplomats have left or been forced to resign. In response to accusations that he was driving diplomats out of government service, Donald replied that he was the only person who mattered when it comes to diplomacy. Donald has closed a cyber threat advisor’s office, closed an office dedicated to drug prevention, stripped a lending watchdog office of its legal enforcement powers, closed the EPA office responsible for determining risk levels for chemical exposure in children and adults, and is even calling for the combination of the Education and Labor Departments even though the two departments have entirely different responsibilities.

Donald Trump mocking reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability (Image Credit: DiversityInc.com)

Donald is also perfectly happy to override (or just ignore) the needs of education in general and of universities in particular. Donald has long supported vouchers even though there is little to no evidence that private and charter schools provide better educations than public schools. He has downplayed the importance of and need for special education for disabled students. And Donald has done nothing of consequence to protect students from school shooters. Donald is attacking university policies on affirmative action and overturning years of progress in reducing campus sexual harassment and assault. And he’s even decided that students who were defrauded by for-profit “colleges” should still have to pay back their student loans even though they never got anything of value for taking on debt.

Of all the conservative interests that Passmore says fascists are willing to override, only one remains largely untouched by Donald – the interests of religion. This makes sense, however, as his particular flavor of fascism is explicitly evangelical christian in nature. This might change if Donald experiences significant pushback from his religious base due to his immorality, but to date there has been little to no pushback.

Donald has shown a willingness to bow to certain demands of labor, the women’s movement, and his base in areas he might not otherwise. For example, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) slated to replace NAFTA contains provisions for allowing labor to unionize factories in Mexico, which will eventually reduce the labor cost advantage of Mexican factories. Donald has also allowed some previously off-limits drugs to become subject to price negotiations for Medicare Part B recipients. However, to date there have been few demands made of Donald in this regard, and as such he has not bent as much as he might have otherwise.

Before the 2016 election, Donald matched Passmore’s eighth characteristic. As we can clearly see, he still does today.

Fascist policies for the people

Fascists seek to ensure the harmonization of workers’ and women’s interests with those of the nation by mobilizing them within special sections of the party and/or within a corporate system. Access to these organizations and to the benefits they confer upon members depends on the individual’s national, political, and/or racial characteristics. [9] All aspects of fascist policy are suffused with ultranationalism. [10]

Passmore’s ninth characteristic is how fascism provides benefits to people based on their “national, political, and/or racial characteristics.” Since Donald took office he’s been trying to steer jobs, taxes cuts, direct financial aid (and harm), and even visa applications in ways that help his supporters and harm his opponents.

Many of Donald’s policies have the stated goal of creating more jobs for his supporters. Donald’s steel and aluminum tariffs, for example, were intended to revive those heavy industries in the US, creating blue collar steel and aluminum jobs in the process. Similarly, Donald’s tariffs on solar panels and certain household appliances were intended to boost demand for US goods and thus create new US manufacturing jobs. While Donald’s tariffs do support his large political donors, the tariffs have the perverse result of actually reducing overall jobs for his supporters. The steel and aluminum tariffs hurt the automakers and aerospace, for example, costing more jobs in those industries than the number of new jobs that will be gained. Donald’s pro-mining and energy extraction policies have resulted in some jobs growth in those areas, but in general, new job growth is going more to people who voted against him than to people who voted for him. This is because the areas Donald is focused on have become so automated that far more jobs were lost when the industries shut down than will be created when the industries are restarted. There is no indication that Donald understands this point, however.

Donald’s tax “cut,” on the other hand, was targeted much better at his supporters. While it will ultimately turn into a reverse-Robin Hood tax hike on poor people in a few years, it was carefully designed to initially help rural red states with low state and local taxes while harming urban blue states with higher taxes. The tax bill capped the state tax deduction at $10k, limiting deductions in blue states which overwhelmingly have higher taxes to support a more generous social safety net, better and subsidized mass transit, stronger state university systems, etc. Donald is even using the IRS to go after blue states that are trying to come up with creative ways to limit the harm the new tax “cut” does to their residents. Homeowners in expensive markets – overwhelmingly urban and blue – are also facing higher taxes as a result of the limited mortgage deductions in Donald’s tax plan. While the following tax changes were ultimately left out of the first tax bill (Congress is working on a second round), other impacts could have included taxing tuition waivers that many graduate students receive and reducing tax credits for alternative energy.

Donald has also been trying to reward his supporters and punishing his opponents directly via adding or subtracting financial aid. The most obvious example of aid to his supporters is how he has directed billions of dollars of financial aid to farmers affected by Chinese soybean tariffs. Punishments meted out to his opponents, however, are more common. Donald has proposed cuts to housing assistance grants, called for cuts to food stamps, and proposed deep cuts to student grants and loans, for example.

Finally, Donald has instituted changes to the US visa programs. In the one hand, he’s rewarded farmers by simplifying complex H-2A visa applications for migrant farm workers. On the other hand, he’s dramatically cut the number of H-1B visas for foreign technical workers. The former helps farmers who overwhelmingly voted for Donald in 2016 while the latter harms the tech industry which voted strongly against Donald.

Donald only partially matched Passmore’s ninth characteristic as of 2016, but since taking office Donald has shifted to the point he fully meets this characteristic today.

Passmore’s tenth and final characteristic is how every policy a fascist implements is “suffused with ultranationalism.” Rather than repeat the examples of nationalistic fascist style from previous parts of this series, I’ll focus instead on Donald’s nationalism as it relates to four categories – attacking the US’ allies, general jingoism, America First, and MAGA.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) talks with newly accredited US Ambassador Richard Allen Grenell during an accreditation ceremony for new Ambassadors in Berlin, Germany, on May 08, 2018. (Image Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald has repeatedly attacked many of our allies. For example, he’s levied tariffs against imported newsprint from Canada, insulted Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau for Trudeau’s criticism of the US at the G-7 summit, and even threatened to consider Canada a national security threat. Donald denigrated France by claiming to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron that “all the terrorists are in Paris.” Donald broke protocol with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel by calling her by her first name rather than her position, and many German legislators have called for the expulsion of the US Ambassador to Germany for his far-right comments. Donald is also investigating whether to impose tariffs on Japanese cars, even invoking a false “bowling ball test” that was supposedly used to limit Japanese imports of US made cars. But Donald’s most significant attacks are on NATO, where he’s blasted our allies for failing to spend enough on defense and questioned why the US has to defend all NATO members. All told, between July 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018, Donald attacked NATO or our allies 32 different times.

Jingoism is a common characteristic of Donald and his Administration. I tracked 213 unique instances of jingoism between July 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. They included the following:

And finally, Donald wants to spend tens of millions of dollars on a military parade.

Donald’s America First approach has also always been on display. America First showed up generally in Donald’s trade policies and national security strategy. It was on display when Donald withdrew billions of dollars in foreign aid and backed out of international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord. America First was obvious when Donald announced to the world that the US is planning to ignore global trading organizations like the WTO and when the Administration rejected the authority of the International Criminal Court. But it has most obvious when insiders said that our foreign policy boils down to “We’re America, bitch.”

Image Credit: Getty

Finally, Donald is also working to Make America Great Again. There was an entire MAGA week in July, 2017. Recent economic growth and the border wall are things that are supposed to MAGA, and Donald claimed that instituting the death penalty for drug dealers would do it too. When Pompeo took over the State Department from Rex Tillerson, he promised new “swagger” in the department. But the biggest ways that Donald has made America great again is he oversaw a significant increase in the military budget and he’s asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal.

Donald only partially met Passmore’s tenth characteristic back in 2016, but given the examples above and his ultranationalist style described in previous parts of this series, there’s no question that Donald matches this characteristic now.

Passmore’s definition of fascism has ten characteristics. When I analyzed Donald’s statements and behavior before the last election in 2016, I concluded that Donald only fully met six of the characteristics, partially met another three, and didn’t meet one at all. As a result, I concluded that Donald was probably a proto-fascist according to Passmore’s definition, but that Passmore wouldn’t consider Donald a full fascist.

Since taking office, however, Donald now meets eight of the ten characteristics and partially matches the remaining two. That’s a significant shift toward fascism over the last two years, and it’s clear now that even if Donald was only a proto-fascist in 2016, he’s become a full fascist per Passmore’s definition.

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