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Never "Never Trump": Fascism Architects Aren't Anti-Fascism Allies
They Built It And Bought It
In 2004, Matthew Dowd was the chief strategist for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. In that year, when he wasn’t campaigning on Iraq War lies and casting dissenters as Al Qaeda apologists, Bush was also making an argument in favor of altering the U.S. Constitution.
He called for an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, and described it as necessary to defend traditional marriage, “the most fundamental institution of civilization.”
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In 2023, responding to the ongoing Republican assault on LGBTQ families, Black history, and women’s rights, Dowd wrote, “When a party has no economic plan, you launch culture war. When a party has no healthcare plan, you launch culture war. When your party can’t win in a multicultural democracy, you attack voting rights/democracy. When your party has no moral compass, you elevate corrupt people.”
But the reason we are at such a low point in history, why so many people are under threat by a steadily radicalized Republican Party and conservative movement, is thanks to the decades of evil built by figures like Dowd, who knew exactly what they were doing — they just would prefer it sold with a soft edge like Bush instead of a blunt instrument like Trump.
I continually find it disheartening the way that a roster of odious conservative creatures has been embraced by liberals over the last 8 years. We’ve seen people who helped to make the case for the Iraq War, like Bill Kristol, people who said there was a direct line between the fascism of Mussolini and the politics of Hillary Clinton, like Jonah Goldberg, and even people who were paid liars in the Trump administration itself — Alyssa Farah and Stephanie Grisham, go along this path.
Liberalism needs higher standards than this. Much, much, much higher standards.
The response I usually hear is that the threat of fascism from the right is now so high, that we need an all-in approach, that we can’t be concerned with purity and that after the crisis has passed we can “go back” to traditional political bickering.
But this is a faulty platform to stand on for two reasons.
One, these people are absolutely terrible at fighting fascism. These are not French resistance fighters blowing up Nazi munitions dumps. These are people who were feckless in their political strategy within the GOP in 2016 trying to defeat Trump, and who have spent the following years with things like ineffectual advertising from the Lincoln Project (while its pro-fascist founders live high on the hog) and repeatedly urging Democrats to tamp down on their progressive wing while pushing the party to embrace embarrassing right-wingers.
What has defeated Trump’s brand of fascism, which is now far beyond Trump and is the entire Republican Party, has been liberals openly embracing liberal ideas and notions, not moderating themselves to appeal to some theoretically open Republican, but instead supporting popular ideas that go from the center-left to the progressive left. That’s what won in 2018 and 2020 and helped to turn a likely 2022 red wave into a red trickle.
Secondly, and most importantly, as I alluded to earlier — these people built this damned thing in the first place. Modern American conservativism was always a fascist operation. Things didn’t suddenly change in 2015 with the rise of Trump. Trump, if anything, simply watched Fox News and parroted conservativism’s fascist impulses right back to it.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made this clear in 1964 as conservatism took over the lead of the Republican Party with the choice of Sen. Barry Goldwater as its presidential candidate. Here’s what Dr. King later wrote about the race:
On social and economic issues, Mr. Goldwater represented an unrealistic conservatism that was totally out of touch with the realities of the twentieth century. The issue of poverty compelled the attention of all citizens of our country. Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.
While I had followed a policy of not endorsing political candidates, I felt that the prospect of Senator Goldwater being President of the United States so threatened the health, morality, and survival of our nation, that I could not in good conscience fail to take a stand against what he represented.
That is the foundation that not only Trump stands on, but so did Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and hundreds of others.
Trumpism didn’t spring forth upon the world from nowhere, leaping from Trump’s hair as he descended his escalator. It was always here, and these people who appear every five minutes on MSNBC panels built it.
Liberals need to stop championing these people, stop wasting money on their money grabbing PACs and nonprofits (Liz Cheney? Adam Kinzinger? Seriously?), and stop operating on the absurd notion that they know the secret code words to prevent Trump and his ilk from regaining power.
The true and realistic path forward is for Democrats and liberals to stop looking for these people to rescue them, and for the party and movement to continue rescuing itself and protecting the most vulnerable Americans.
Defeating fascism requires unadulterated anti-fascism, and you won’t find that from the people who have spent the last sixty years mainstreaming these sickening notions in American political discourse.
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Exclusive Kal-El Photo
In a day with a lot of Zoom meetings, Kal got fed up with me and left my shoulder, curling up in the corner on his pillow in a huff.