The ‘Is Trump a Fascist?’ meme is really taking off. A Vice piece on the subject has a Q&A with Isabel Hull, a historian on European fascism.
Hull doesn’t see Trump as a ‘fascist’ in the classic sense, but sees the huge GOP base support for Trump as a historical precursor of sorts.
Q: If Trump doesn’t fit the classic definition of “conservative,” why is he so popular with people who identify as conservatives?
The problem is that surveillance of presumed domestic enemies, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and fear-mongering all have an unfortunately long history in this country. I would say that Trump is interesting more for his methods: the Big Lie—which he refuses to retract, the violent uncouth language that passes for “truth”in some circles, apparently, and the encouragement or at least acceptance of minor violence—pushing and shoving—against dissenters, whether they’re journalists or just vocal critics. These things do tiptoe into the extreme right-wing. They all were characteristic of fascist movements before they assumed power, though the violence in that case was much, much more extreme…
Q: So what does this new discrepancy in American conservatism mean for the Republican party?
It may mean that the far-right Republican base is, in fact, through with the party, but hasn’t realized it yet. I really hadn’t thought of it in that way before…
That last sentence is key.
Elites are only now beginning to realize the width of the gap between the D.C. beltway and the Silent Majority.