The other day, President Joe Biden accused voters of the opposition party of turning to “semi-fascism.” This is probably the first time in American history a president has openly attacked the opposing party’s constituents in this way.
Biden, who once claimed that Mitt Romney, the chaste, was harbouring a desire for chattel slavery back, is not prone to stupid hyperbole.
And it’s true that most people who throw around the word “fascist” fail to do so with much precision.
These days, the word “democracy,” like “fascism,” has lost all meaning. According to Democrats, asking someone to show ID before voting is an attack on “democracy,” but so is the Supreme Court’s handing back power to voters on the abortion issue.
When you have no limiting principles of governance, anything that inhibits your exertion of power is seen as anti-“democracy.” If students have loans to be repaid, “forgive” them. If you can’t pass a bill, the executive branch should do it by fiat. Pack it if the court stops it.
When the opposition holds power, power is limited.
A microcosm of this confused thinking can be found in the recent spate of hysterical media pieces about alleged Republican “book banning.” The use of “ban” by the media is more than a category error; it’s an effort to paint parents who use the very same exact democratic powers the left has relied on for decades as book burners.
Public school book selection and curricula are political issues that school and library boards decide. They are not required to have every book on racial identity or sexual explicit material unless requested by the American Library Association.
Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes that fascists “believed that multiparty democracy weakened the nation, and that competitive capitalism was wasteful and exploitative. Their alternative was a one-party state that guided the economy through regulation and sector-based accords between labor and business.”
Is it not the left that advocates government intervention in the economy with never-ending regulations and subsidies, as well as mandates that allow for effective control over the means of production?
Leftists—some incrementally, some less so—are the proponents of nationalizing the health care system, the energy sector, and education. Again, if progressives have any limiting principles when it comes to intervention in our economic lives, I’d love to hear about them.
Are the most vociferous defenders of “democracy” not the ones who sound suspiciously like they want a one-party state? Modern Democrats have stopped debating politics or accepting the legitimacy from anyone who stands in their path.
They will pass huge, generational reforms without the input of the minority. And they don’t merely champion their work as beneficial; they claim these bills are needed for the survival of “democracy” and “civilization”—nay, the survival of the planet.
Anyone who opposes Mother Earth being saved is an authoritarian. There is nothing to be debated. The villainization of political opponents isn’t new, but we are breaking new ground.
Some might find it a bit fascist that the FBI can freely instruct rent-seeking giant corporations to censor news in order to elect their preferred candidate. This was what happened with Facebook. Or that the White House is in the business of “flagging” “problematic posts” and threatening corporations to “root out” “misleading” speech or be held accountable.
One wouldn’t be off-base seeing a “Disinformation Governance Board” that sifts through speech the administration dislikes or a Justice Department that treats those protesting authoritarian school boards as “domestic terrorists” as “semi-fascist.”
It is curious, as well, that the same people who control basically all major institutions in American life—academia, media, unions, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, trade associations, public schools, publishing, the entire D.C. bureaucracy, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, not to mention the presidency and Congress—claim to be victims of budding authoritarianism.
The only major institution free of progressives’ grip right now is the Supreme Court. And the left is engaged in a systematic effort to delegitimize the court for doing its job and limiting the state’s power.
This is not to say that the right isn’t guilty. I find myself often debating the populist left on issues ranging anywhere from free markets to the state’s role.
No matter who is involved, violations of the Constitution are to be condemned. However, progressivism’s crusade to destroy the separation of powers, its attacks on religious freedom and free speech, its undermining of civil society, its binding of the economy to the state, and its fostering of perpetual dependency and victimhood are far bigger long-term threats to the republic than Trumpism—and far closer to the definition of “semi-fascism” than the Republican agenda.??????
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