Like many people, I’ve been hesitant to use the F word in public for fear of offending others’ sensibilities. It is, after all, the one word that can end any political debate or polite conversation. Yet I believe our nation has reached a point where it is the only word left to accurately describe a political party.
I’m not referring to the F word that ends with a k.
After watching the GOP’s followers attempting to violently overturn the results of a fair and free election, after listening to them spewing racism and hate, after seeing them place targets on the backs of LBTQ people who only want to love who they want and to live as they want, after seeing them interfere with a woman’s access to health care, after watching them strip away virtually all regulations of guns, and after watching their hate result in the recent spate of shootings, I believe the party now richly deserves to be labeled with another F word.
I’m referring, of course, to the term fascist.
You may remember that I recently compared the United States of America that Republicans have created to pre-World War II Germany. But I was wrong.
This America may be even worse!
As long ago as the 1970s, those who operate under the banner of the Republican Party determined that the only way to win a free and fair election was to divide us, to pit elements of our society against one another – white against black and brown, conservatives against liberals, Christians against Jews, Christians against Muslims, the religious against atheists and agnostics, gun owners against those who demand gun safety, anti-abortionists against those who believe in a woman’s choice, heterosexuals against homosexuals, heterosexuals against transexuals, etc., etc., etc.
Failing to offer any solutions for our nation’s problems, they intended, instead, to create scapegoats. Along the way, the fascists and their propaganda networks have peddled dishonest narratives of an oppressive government, runaway spending, out of control crime, an invasion of immigrants, and a breakdown of Christian principles to motivate their base.
They have labeled Democrats as pedophiles, non-Christians as terrorists, food stamp recipients as welfare queens, civil servants as the deep state, doctors as baby killers, journalists as enemies of the people, the compassionate as woke, teachers as groomers, and election results as fake.
They whined about so-called activist judges, praying for Supreme Court justices to die so they could seat their own ideologues. They then encouraged them to change long-standing and popular laws by judicial fiat. Having given up on trying to persuade voters, they resorted to voter suppression, gerrymandering, threats, and intimidation.
They disregard education, science, history, and expertise. In their place, they have embraced “alternative facts”, outrageous myths, and wild conspiracy theories.
They seek power, not to govern and improve lives. But to dictate their own narrow-minded beliefs. They disdain compromise and policy debates. Indeed, their only discernable policy is cruelty. They see tolerance, understanding, and compassion as weakness. They ban books and fire teachers who contradict their ignorance and hateful beliefs. They turn government meetings into carnival freak shows. They show up at state houses and election sites with guns to intimidate and threaten, using the First and Second Amendments as weapons.
They have chosen as their leader a man who panders to their ignorance and cruelty. A sociopathic bully who makes up for his lack of knowledge by creating his own “truth.” A conman who has fashioned his leadership style after mob bosses, encouraging lawlessness and giving orders by suggestion and implication – a technique that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hold him to account. When he lost re-election, he claimed victory, his followers believing his obvious lies. In the aftermath of his defeat, they stormed the Capitol as part of a failed coup to overturn the election. And rather than accept the truth, they forced election officials, even those who are longtime members of their own party, to resign under an avalanche of death threats.
The difference between these fascists and those who once ruled Germany is almost indistinguishable. They have a leader whose thirst for power and adoration is insatiable. He has a proven ability to sell his racist and hateful dream to the masses. He has created a climate of anger and fear of “the other” – races of people he claims are keeping the nation from becoming great again. And though he has no uniformed mob of brown shirts, he has no need for them. Instead, he has a mob of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and millions of heavily armed believers who are impatiently waiting for the opportunity to act.
Will there be a Kristallnacht? A burning of the Reichstag? Some other crisis created to justify a violent takeover? The danger to our democracy and the world is far from over. What happens between now and November 12, 2024, will determine our fate.