MSNBC’s Joy Reid recently accused presidential candidate Ron DeSantis of “running the most openly fascist campaign I think I’ve ever seen.” Political grifter Stuart Stevens chimed in to note that the Florida governor is even worse than Donald Trump – or even more like Hitler, if you can imagine such a thing.
Accusations of fascism are nothing new in politics. When libertarian Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination in 1964, California Governor Pat Brown claimed the “stench of fascism is in the air.” And since that time, every major Republican presidential candidate has been branded a fascist or something approximating one. Even oppressively anodyne moderates like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan really just wanted to throw black Americans back into chains and old people off cliffs.
In recent years, though, Democrats have transformed the entire political debate into one pitting the forces of “democracy” against authoritarianism. Not that long ago, for the first time in American history, a president gave a prime-time speech accusing voters of the opposition party of turning to “semi-fascism.” “Now you need to vote to literally save democracy again,” the president warned. And the only way to save democracy was by empowering one-party rule — a position that should sound counterintuitive to anyone who’s ever read a book.
It is exceedingly unlikely that Reid or Biden could define “fascism” as anything other than policy positions they oppose. They’re not alone. Quite conveniently, every Dem policy position, from energy to taxes to voter ID, is essential in saving “democracy.” And, conversely, even innocuous acts of governance by Republicans are framed as tyrannical.
The problem is that many of the ideas Democrats propose are … well, let’s call them, fascist adjacent. This is unsurprising considering the rise of progressivism and the death of liberalism within the American left.
Consider that in fascist economies, for instance, a powerful centralized state led by a demagogue plays on the nationalistic impulses of people to control manufacturing and commerce while dictating prices and wages for the good of the people. Does anyone doubt most contemporary Democrats would give the state control of the energy or health care or information sector if they could?
In these systems, excessive profits are captured by the state. Growing the state is “patriotic.” Economic activity is for the collective good. And crony, private industries that sign on to the cultural, economic, and ideological objectives of the party are rewarded by the state.
It is a shame that to some extent the same kind of destructive economic statism is again being popularized on the right. And I am not a fan of DeSantis’ punishing Disney for involving itself in a political issue. All of this has been the modus operandi of Democrats for decades.
Indeed, when Biden promises to “transform” and “remake” the entire auto industry — one of our biggest — “first with carrots, now with sticks,” as The Washington Post notes, everyone is fine with it. Where does the president derive his power to hand out carrots to an industry that does its bidding? The Washington Post and Biden are unbothered by the trappings of Congress or legislation or choice. If the goal is important enough, our leader can do it by edict. You know, like they do in “democracy.”
The only institution that, on occasion, stops the president from abusing his power is the Supreme Court, which is not inconsequentially one of the few institutions not in the hands of the left — in case you were wondering why there is a concerted effort to destroy it.
Anyway, a real “democracy” does not demand ideological conformity from its people. A “democracy” doesn’t create expectations for us to bow our heads to ideological flags and emblems that have zero to do with the founding or the stated ideals of the nation. That’s the kind of thing fascists do.
It’s the authoritarians who believe unfettered speech is a threat to “democracy.” I’m not a professional political scientist, but when the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country is instructing giant rent-seeking communication companies to censor news to help elect preferred candidates, that sounds pretty fascist-y to me. What kind of “democracy” has a White House “flagging” “problematic posts” and threatening corporations who do not “root out” “misleading” speech with consequences? What kind of “democracy” sets up a “Disinformation Governance Board” to sift through speech?
The left’s claim to be defenders of “democracy” is highly risible. It also is often Orwellian. Take the nonexistent “book bans” that MSNBC spends seemingly all day discussing. For the modern leftist, trapping kids and parents in state-run schools and then authorizing unelected bureaucrats rather than parents deciding what children can see and learn is the embodiment of “democracy.” When constituents vote for politicians who curate those “public” school libraries by excluding books that feature illustrations of 11-year-olds engaged in oral sex, or that normalize gender dysphoria, or that teach race-obsessed pseudohistories, they somehow become the fascists. When constituents complain to school boards, the Justice Department chills speech by labeling them domestic terrorists.
At any rate, I can’t think of a single major Democratic Party initiative that doesn’t involve some kind of compulsion — usually in the guise of some invented positive “right” or limitation on economic freedom.
Now, I’m not saying Joy Reid or Joe Biden is worse than Hitler or even Mussolini. I’m saying that they, and those like them, are illiberal actors who are a far bigger threat to our constitutional republic than an imperfect Ron DeSantis. Just because they haven’t been able to get away with all of it doesn’t change that fact.