No, not that f-word. I’m talking about “fascist.” It’s a word that some unimpeachably conservative Republicans have lately used in connection with Donald Trump. Here is neo-conservative theorist Max Boot:

Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it.

Similar if somewhat more qualified applications of the f-word to Trump have been voiced by John Noonan, Jeb Bush’s national security adviser; former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore; and Iowa conservative talk-show host Steve Dease. Trump’s recent openness to the idea of creating a national Muslim registry seems to have precipitated these reactions.

Is Trump a fascist? There is a long history of radical leftists over-freely castigating their opponents as fascists, so I’m loath to use the term lightly.  Of course Trump isn’t a fascist in a literal sense, but who is? In today’s world, there is little left of the ideology that Benito Mussolini and his followers developed in the 1920s and 30s and that attracted a variety of admirers and imitators on the European right, including, most consequentially, in Germany.   But there is much about Trump’s persona and appeal that suggests more than a whiff of classic fascist impulses.

Fascism always celebrated the cult of the Leader. I don’t recall any other US presidential aspirant who has so openly promoted a cult of personality; Trump’s campaign amounts to a call for a collective embrace of its leader’s narcissism.   Trump, the strong man, the very, very smart man, will fix everything. You don’t need to know his specific plans; you just need to know that he is Trump. Trump’s bullying style, his shameless delight in belittling his adversaries and his obsession with strength and toughness and domination all suggest a typically fascistic absorption with Power. Fascism has usually depended for its appeal on popular resentment of outsiders, whether the leaders and citizens of foreign countries or minority groups within. More than anything else, Trump’s appeal is based on rage against “others”—Muslims have now joined Mexican immigrants as his prime targets.

In short, Trump’s candidacy has a unique ugliness about it that should disturb anyone familiar with 20th Century history.   To call him a fascist would be hyperbole, but “fascistic” might just fit.


  1. John Duggan November 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Good points. Thanks Tony. I’m glad you’re keeping an eye on him because I tend to just tune him out.

  2. John Duggan December 6, 2015 at 9:34 am

    New York Times
    December 5, 2015

    95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue


    “An analysis of 95,000 words Mr. Trump said in public in the past week reveals powerful patterns in his speech which, historians say, echo the appeals of demagogues of the past century.”

    A version of this article appears in print on December 6, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: 95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Trump’s Tongue.

    • tonygreco December 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Yes, a very useful article, confirming my post some time ago calling Trump an exceptionally brilliant demagogue.

  3. John Duggan December 6, 2015 at 9:55 am


    > … Donald Trump phenomenon …

    In The Atlantic … After all, “a year before the general election, most voters aren’t paying attention yet.”

    Nate Silver chimes in with a similar message: “It can be easy to forget it if you cover politics for a living, but most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the campaign right now.”

    “They’re not paying all that much attention”?

    They’re not paying attention. The first Republican debate got 24 million viewers, more than any game in the NBA finals or World Series—three times more than any previous primary debate. The second got as many viewers as an NFL game. <

    Why Media Pundits Are Privately Enthralled About Donald Trump's Candidacy

    By Rick Perlstein

    2 December 2015
    This article first appeared in The Washington Spectator.

  4. John Duggan December 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    “Donald Trump’s quips about the Republican Jewish Coalition’s deal-making prowess yesterday was an accurate description of the Israel lobby’s use of money to commit politicians to pro-Israel positions.”

    “Trump wasn’t anti-Semitic
    Donald Trump’s comments to the Republican Jewish Coalition yesterday about his audience including great negotiators who want to buy candidates were not anti-semitic, as a lot of liberal writers are claiming. The quips were a generalization, surely, but an accurate one.”

    Philip Weiss
    4 December 2015

  5. John Duggan December 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

    “The Donald has been making dubious claims about U.S. Muslims celebrating 9/11. Why do so many people buy it?”

    How Trump Gets Away With His 9/11 Lies

    By Daniel Denvir


    6 December 2015

    “… To be clear, the claim has been thoroughly debunked. …”

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