Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Opponents Or Enemies? Defining Trumpism

 [This is a summary of the longer article which can be found at: https://buddshenkin.blogspot.com/2021/07/americas-six-freedoms-guide-to-our.html]

A major task of politics is to decide if the party you are struggling against is an opponent or an enemy. Opponents agree on basic issues and values; enemies don't. Now that Trumpism appears to have overtaken the Republican party, it is especially important for non-Trumpists to define whether Trumpists are opponents who should be negotiated with and compromised with,  or if the gulf is so wide that seeking to destroy Trumpism is the only viable option.

In 1941, seeking to define the difference between traditional Western civilization and the threatening fascist forces, Franklin Roosevelt enunciated the Four Freedoms as essential to our values: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. This summary of basic values has endured.

In the 80 years since FDR's speech, two other freedoms have come to be essential to us: Freedom from Discrimination, and Freedom of Fair Elections. That gives us Six Freedoms to tally our scorecard. Does Trumpism agree with these values, or threaten them? This six-fold test finds Trumpian Republicans pretty far outside the bounds of the Six Freedoms:

  • Free speech: Trumpist Republicans irresponsibly abuse free speech by using it to foster the Big Lie as a conscious matter of policy, a basic abuse that essentially negates the basic right.

  • Freedom of religion: Trumpist Republicans repeatedly press positions that place religious beliefs over civic laws, and Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices increasingly support these positions, with possible reversal of Roe vs. Wade pending.

  • Freedom from want: Trumpist Republicans support the new enhanced levels of economic inequality, as particularly evidenced with tax cuts, and continually seek to pare back safety net programs.

  • Freedom from fear: Trumpist Republicans obstruct reform of discriminatory policing, support freedom to carry weapons of war, and defend and encourage armed militias who march with torches, assault the Capitol with gallows erected, and chant “they will not replace us.”

  • Freedom from discrimination: Trumpist Republicans are strongly anti-civil rights, catering to perceived grievances of whites, often supporting white supremacy.

  • Freedom of free and fair elections: Trumpist Republicans have supported Russian interference with elections, support rejection of honest election results, and support voter suppression legislation across the country that even includes legislation and candidates that will serve to disrupt electoral mechanics. 


A fair reading of these positions reveals such serious dissent with traditionally held values that it is impossible to present them as positions of opponents rather than positions of enemies.

In fact, a strong case can be made that this outline of beliefs and practices reveals Trumpism to be in its essence a fascist movement.

Budd Shenkin

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