The sitting president has made it clear that he will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power should the voters deny him a second term. New reporting from inside the White House reveals that the Executive Branch is exploring ways to overturn the election if Joe Biden should win by appointing additional electors who are not bound by the will of the voters.
Plainly, these actions should terrify and enrage every patriot.
We are venturing into uncharted territory for the American system. When I refer to the president’s actions as fascist, I want to be clear that it is not merely partisan name-calling. The actions of this president to consolidate executive authority, suppress votes from groups he doesn’t think will support him, use the language of nationalism to decry the opposition party as unpatriotic, call all negative press “fake,” divide the nation by race, and when all else fails, explore extra-legal approaches to retain power, are pulled directly out of the historic fascist playbook. It is the American version of the same recurring catastrophe that has plagued so many nations in the last century.
The United States has a grand history of compromise as well as a history of intense partisan feuding. However, never before has the miasma of authoritarianism permeated our democratic institutions to this extent. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican party defeated John Adams and the Federalists, establishing the principle that one political party could peacefully supplant another through democratic process. Until this year, that foundational value has never been called into question.
The current occupant of the Oval Office has made a business of upending the norms of our democratic system. In 2016, he alleged, without evidence, that massive voter fraud was responsible for his popular vote loss. This year, he has insisted that vote by mail is prone to fraud when all evidence points to the contrary. We can be sure this president will declare victory on election night regardless of the results. That is not normal.
The unwavering Republican support for the president would suggest that his actions represent a matter of course for a conservative president. This is not the case. This president has captured a significant voting bloc of the Republican party by creating a cult of personality around himself. He owns the conservative base, and for his enablers in Congress, turning against him is political suicide.
The Republican party faces a divide between the Trump loyalists and the Lincoln Project Republicans. Likewise, the Democratic party is more of a coalition between the progressive party of Bernie Sanders and the centrist party of Joe Biden. These are distinctly separate political ideologies that are united, along with many Republican groups like the Lincoln Project, in the goal of defeating American fascism.
My grandparents lived in Mussolini’s Italy. They personally witnessed the calls for more “patriotic” education, the violent suppression of dissent and the discrediting of the free press. They came to America after my grandfather was nearly killed in northeastern Italy by revolutionary Stalinists. I went to college and studied Constitutional law because today in my country the very concept of freedom needs to be defended.
Regardless of how you feel about the president’s policies, it is imperative that we demonstrate that patriots value country over party. We must never allow extremism, from the right or left, to befall our democracy. Today we are called upon to be just as anti-fascist as our forebears who marched into Germany some 75 years ago. Our march will be to the ballot box to restore honor and compassion to the American presidency.
The author is a political writer from Cutchogue.