If Re-Elected, Trump Vows Fascist Regime from Day One

Interview with Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy at Yale University and author of "How Fascism Works," conducted by Scott Harris

After Donald Trump’s overwhelming victory in the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, most pundits expect him to easily win the rest of the delegates he needs in coming weeks to clinch the Republican party presidential nomination. While corporate media reports on the GOP primary campaign with a narrow focus on the “horse race,” with little attention on the former president’s many lies about the 2020 election, Trump quotes Adolph Hitler as he attacks leftists, Marxists and immigrants as “vermin” “poisoning the blood of the country.”

At his campaign rallies, Trump talks openly about establishing a dictatorship on Day One” of his administration should he win the 2024 election and his intention to fire tens of thousands of government civil servants who refuse to pledge their loyalty to him. Trump is the first former president and presidential candidate to be charged with felonies, and now faces 91 counts in four federal and state criminal cases.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy at Yale University and author of “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.” Here he discusses Trump’s continued popularity despite his increasingly fascist rhetoric, the violence he incites as he issues threats targeting his perceived enemies and corporate media coverage of the threat Trump poses to democracy.

JASON STANLEY: Trump has created a sort of showman narrative straight out of early- to mid-20th century European fascism, Mussolini- and Hitler-like. He is the aggrieved one. It’s this narrative of reclaiming the nation and they’re trying to get him. And it grips people.

It’s like a show. The Frankfurt School which discussed European fascism and Nazism particularly, talks about the leader transforming politics into spectacle. And we’re seeing almost a textbook case of that in the case of Donald Trump.

SCOTT HARRIS: As you’ve talked about in recent years, U.S. corporate media has long resisted calling out Trump for his authoritarian and fascistic rhetoric, as well as his actions in office in recent months. Some of the major newspapers — and I would cite The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic magazine, among them, have raised the alarm. And some, you know, headlines.

And they’ve talked about the threat that Trump poses more so than they have in recent years. Why are they so late in identifying Trump as a threat to democracy? And what does our media need to do now, in your view in advance of the November election to further warn the American people about the Trump-Republican threat to U.S. democracy?

JASON STANLEY: The media has spent so many years saying this isn’t the case, that there’s some other explanation, that it’s not just what it obviously is, that they’re a bit embarrassed about walking back their absurdity over the past five or six years or whatever when all of this fascism, autocrat and authoritarianism talk was relegated to neither the “left-wing” press or the centrist press.

But The New York Times was very reluctant to go that way until recently. So now what do you do? You have a media environment in which Trump is very cleverly not at all like a charlatan — behaving exactly like any fascist would, claiming the other side is the democratic threat and being extremely open about his intentions.

He’s going to replace everyone in the government-by-loyalists. He’s going to target the universities, the schools. This process is called gleichschaltung in the literature on Nazi Germany, where every organization, every government institution turns loyalist-like and is transformed. Their employees are replaced by people loyal to the leader and loyal to the party. And Trump has already announced he’s going to do this. So he’s already announced a full fascist plan.

He hasn’t announced a genocide of a particular group other than immigrants and LGBT, traditional targets of fascists in any other conceivable sense. So what we have is a fascist social and political movement with a fascist leader.

And so the media—now what is the media? Do I have a recipe for the media? Well, they can’t “both side,” any more. They can’t treat this as a horse race. Well, it’s a horse race between autocracy and democracy. And there’s no reason to think democracy will be more popular. It often isn’t.

SCOTT HARRIS: Well, we only have a couple of minutes left. And I wanted to just ask you this last question, Professor Stanley. On the topic of violence, Trump regularly issues threats to his perceived enemies judges, prosecutors, election officials. This has resulted in armed attacks, bomb threats, swatting attacks, more recently and mass murder in the case of white supremacists and anti-Semites whose attacks in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and El Paso incited by Trump’s language and other Republicans and right-wing media commentators spewing racism and hate.

I mean, people are dying around this country because of this incitement. What is your concern about this election season we’re in and the prospect of more violence than we’ve even seen in the last couple of years?

JASON STANLEY: Well, I don’t know if concern is the word I’d use because I expect there to be a lot more violence. I mean, look at what happened to Paul Pelosi, somebody, you know, hopped up on conspiracy theories, hit him with a hammer. The rhetoric that we’re hearing completely justifies political violence. The supporters who are listening to this rhetoric have a lot of guns.

I don’t understand why people are surprised when “the sun rises.” You know, the sun is going to rise or the sun is going to set on American democracy and that process will be very violent.

Jason Stanley’s newest book is titled, “Erasing History: How Fascists Rewrite the Past to Control the Future.”

This interview was previously broadcast on Jan. 17 of this year.

Listen to Scott Harris’ in-depth interview with Jason Stanley (18:19) and see more articles and opinion pieces in the Related Links section of this page.

For the best listening experience and to never miss an episode, subscribe to Between The Lines on your favorite podcast app or platform: Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsAmazon MusicTunein+ AlexaCastboxOvercastPodfriend,
iHeartRadioCastroPocket CastsRSS Feed.

Or subscribe to our Between The Lines and Counterpoint Weekly Summary. 

Subscribe to our Weekly Summary