Fear, fascism and democracy
Governments use fear of imminent danger to extend their own power and impose their own policies on skeptical populations. This kind of doomsday alarmism keeps some people in a permanent state of anxiety that threatens their health and sanity.
As National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty said of President Joe Biden’s latest expansion of America’s COVID emergency with his extraordinary executive powers, “Every emergency warps government and erodes our resistance to extended powers.”
A strange aspect of the current midterm election season is that the incumbent party’s campaign themes – the alleged threat to democracy and abortion “rights” – are urgent and alarmist, but have little significance. – thing to do with the main concerns of voters: the economy and inflation. Most voters, according to a new poll, see a threat to democracy but see it as coming from the media or Democrats, not MAGA Republicans.
Fascism and the Threat to Democracy
A major Democratic campaign strategy has been to focus on the threat to democracy posed in their view by Republicans. The idea was to put the January 6 riot at the heart of their campaign and demonize the “MAGA Republicans” or sometimes the entire Republican Party. In his September 1 speech at a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Biden called his opponents “semi-fascists.” The rally itself was a grim fascist-style event with the president waving his arms and shouting as if imitating Italian fascist Benito Mussolini. With two Marines in uniform behind him, Biden insulted half the population in terms unprecedented in American history.
The suggestion, sometimes explicit, is that electing any Republican to any office is itself a threat to democracy. We need, it seems, an indefinite period of one-party rule to save democracy from itself.
Do Democrats believe what they say about Republicans being fascist or semi-fascist, an imminent danger to democracy? Some commentators such as Norman Podhoretz of Commentary think so, but then find it strange that they are so uncurious about their own role in undermining democratic republicanism. Are liberal efforts to delegitimize the Supreme Court, supplant or ignore constitutional power and the authority of the legislature not attacks on constitutional democracy?
As Podhoretz puts it, “the most egregious example in American history of this attack [on the Constitutional order] and this acquiescence [of the legislative branch] came in August, when President Biden announced he was using an executive order to pay off the student loan debt of as many as 60 million Americans at an estimated cost between $500 billion and $1 trillion. As he says, it is money that Congress has not appropriated or authorized.
Do Democrats Really Believe It?
Democrats and their supporters in the media present themselves as defenders of democracy. Voters don’t believe it. It is the Democrats who call their opponents fascists while seeking a one-party state.
National Review’s Charles Cooke argues that Democrats themselves are showing by their actions that they don’t believe their own rhetoric. They don’t really believe democracy is at stake in the midterm elections.
It was Hillary Clinton who rejected her 2016 election loss to Donald Trump. Jimmy Carter called the duly elected Trump an illegitimate president. Stacey Abrams claimed she won Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election and was endorsed by prominent Democrats such as Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Eric Holder.
A Democratic party that believed American democracy was at stake, Cooke argues, “would have moderated politically, culturally and fiscally,” but failed to do so. They would have sacrificed or postponed part of their extreme ideological program in order to face the economic crisis which caused their decline in the polls. They wouldn’t have allowed the Democratic president to commit a series of unfathomable offenses months before the midterm elections. The party is said not to have, while calling its opponents fascists, “consciously elevated the candidates it now presents as existential threats in the hope that they would be easier to defeat on election day”.
Several commentators have drawn similar contrasts between what Democrats say they believe and how they act. Lance Morrow in The Wall Street Journal argued about Biden’s “semi-fascist” rhetoric:
“If there are any fascists in America these days, they are likely to be found among the left-wing tribes. This is Mr. Biden and his people (including the lion’s share of the media), whose views have, since January 6, 2021, hardened in absolute faith that any party or political belief system other than theirs is illegitimate – impermissible, inhumane, monstrous and (a nice touch) a threat to democracy. The evolution of their overprivileged emotions – their fanatical sentimentality – led them, in 2022, to adopt Mussolini’s formula: “All in the state, nothing out of the state, nothing against the state”. Or against the party. (People forget, if they ever knew, that Hitler and Mussolini started out as socialists). The state and the Democratic Party must speak and act as one, suppressing all dissent.
Fascism in America
The term fascism, as Bruce Kuklick (quoted by John Wilson) puts it in his forthcoming book, “Fascism Comes to America: A Century of Obsession in Politics and Culture”, “expresses hatred more than it identifies reality. or a growing sense of reality”. .”
It doesn’t describe any of the major parties in the United States, but it’s a powerful insult. A president who sought, as Biden apologists presented on the 2020 election campaign, to unite and calm the turbulent waters of partisan hostility, would not have used the term. This healing and unifying stance did not survive his first day in office.
In terms of commitment to economic, political and cultural freedom, there is a marked difference between the parties. Democrats lean more heavily toward totalitarianism, seeking a stronger state, with more control over the rest of society – family, education, economy, faith-based organizations and other civic organizations – and less tolerance for difference and ideological diversity, including political beliefs other than their own. This is the collectivist ideology of corporatism adopted by Mussolini, in which the economy was managed by state officials by integrating large interest groups under the state.
As for street violence and intimidation, with which Italian fascists are often associated, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party indulge in it, although there are violent elements on the fringes of both – like us we’ve seen it with the months of riots, arson and violence associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, as well as in doxing and assassination attempts targeting Republican lawmakers and Supreme Court Justices.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.