When once asked why he robs banks, American career criminal Willie Sutton famously replied, “Because it’s where the money is.” We are amused by this because it’s honest. Sutton didn’t try to cloak his crimes in social commentary or blame his parents. So it should be with fascism. Now that it has made its way to America disguised as Republicanism we should begin to call it what it is. Fascism is no more an ideology than robbing banks. Just as robbing banks is a means to money, fascism is a means to power and nothing more. It is a tool used to inspire hate and fear so the tool user can acquire and hang on to power. Or as P. J. O’Rourke once put it, “Fascism is very much a mob movement.”
It’s surprising how quick Republicans have been to tacitly admit this, so much so that they dispensed with presenting the American people with a platform at the Republican National Convention. To be sure, there are certain axioms upon which they try to hang their grab for power, such as the pro-life movement or the “religious freedom” movement.
But even they see the immediate hypocrisy inherent in the point. How does one defend the preservation of the life of a child while simultaneously putting children in cages or sending them back to school in the midst of a pandemic? And the religion they’re protecting for religious freedom has an embarrassing habit of talking a little too much about loving one’s neighbor.
It’s easier to dispense with all the inherent messiness of enunciating a manifesto and get right down to the point. Republicanism today is all about hate and cruelty and the emotions they inspire. They exploit those emotions by turning them into votes.
That is why when Trump Republicans were in power for the two entire years of 2017 and 2018 they did effectively nothing. Trump’s wall, which today is only five miles long, wasn’t even begun. Mexico never paid for it in any case. Hillary Clinton has remained happily out of jail. The Affordable Care Act had no viable alternative and never did. Isis remains a thing to this day. The mass deportation of undocumented immigrants never happened. America remains a NATO member state. Not only were Trump election promises not kept, they didn’t even really try to keep them.
While it’s true, Trump Republicans stacked the courts with under-qualified puppets and gave the top 1% a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut, that’s more about money and power than about a specifically enunciated ideological agenda. Republicans today don’t want anything apart from power, and they don’t even try to pretend otherwise. As in the manner of Willie Sutton, they do it because that’s where the power is.
So when Trump’s weaponized attorney general William Barr defends another Trump lunacy, he doesn’t have to stop and check and see if it squares with his ideological agenda. He doesn’t have one. His goal is to get Trump re-elected so that he and Trump and all their cronies can continue to stay in power. Power is the thing, the only thing, that fascism seeks.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained it best when discussing her 2018 book, Fascism: A Warning, “Fascism is not an ideology; it’s a process for taking and holding power. What differentiates fascism from other ideological movements is the use of violence and anger to achieve political ends.” That, in miniature, is Donald Trump and his Republican cronies.
There are a million reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, this has been another one. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.