I am surprised and disappointed at those Republicans who support Trump to the point of rejecting the will of the American people and even democracy itself. The recent effort to allow Vice-president Pence to potentially replace Electoral College votes for Mr Biden with votes for Mr Trump came close to being an attempted coup.
But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.
Back in the 1930s when naive leftists were supporting Soviet Communism and spouting nonsense such as “I have seen the future, and it works,” many American rightists were actively supporting fascism and even Nazism. The fascist fans included celebrities such as aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, the radio priest Father Coughlin and industrialist Henry Ford.
After WWII, with Nazism defeated, and the Soviet Union now the enemy, the left was constantly reminded of its misguided support for the Soviets while the right’s support of fascism was generally overlooked. Fascism’s American fans could truthfully insist that they’d always been anti-communist without revealing who they had once supported, thus presenting themselves as committed defenders of democracy. Support of right-wing dictatorships during the Cold War was justified as anti-communism.
With the end of the Cold War, the issue has largely lain dormant. But the rise to power of Donald Trump cannot help but remind us of the rise of fascism. The similarities are striking. Furthermore, support for Trump among many Republicans has exceeded any need to demonstrate loyalty to the party. Part of it is no doubt simply contenders for the 2024 Republican nomination attempting to curry favour with Trump’s base.
But is it also possible that Trumpism has appealed to the inner fascist of many conservatives? Has the fondness for foreign fascists come home to roost?
There have always been fringe fascists, of course—white supremacists and their ilk. But here I refer not to these outlaws but to mainstream members of the Republican Party, such as Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. If this is the explanation for their contempt for the wishes of the American people, indeed for democracy, their behaviour becomes perfectly comprehensible. No surprise at all.