The United States is not currently a fascist country. It is unlikely that it will become one. But Jason Stanley rightly points out that we should not ignore the rise of fascist tactics increasingly being used by the President and his administration while they are also excused by members of the President’s Republican Party. Stanley writes:
The United States, even under the Trump administration, is at this moment not a fascist regime. Though protestors on the street are facing violent retaliation from federal forces, one can criticize the ruling party and its leader without fear of repercussion. The courts, while stacked with extreme partisan Trump appointees, still operate relatively independently. The Congress of the United States is controlled by the opposition party. If we are thinking about regimes, the Trump administration does not preside over a fascist regime.
However, it would be naïve to be concerned only about regimes that are already fascist. If we only ever worried about regimes that were fascist, we would be helpless in the face of social and political movements that sought eventually to transform liberal democracies in more fascist directions. If our anti-fascism is serious, we need to be concerned about fascist social and political movements. And fascist social and political movements can and do occur within liberal democracies – indeed for a time Hitler led a fascist social and political movement in German democracy. Even though the United States remains a liberal democracy, it is legitimate to have concerns about the emergence of fascist social and political movements.
Even if one thinks it unlikely that the US will be transformed into a fascist regime, it is also legitimate to be concerned about fascist political tactics. The basis of a healthy democracy are liberal democratic norms – equal respect for all citizens, and tolerance of difference among beliefs and practices. Fascist politics presents difference as a mortal threat. Freedom, the lifeblood of democracy, is the enemy of fascism. Politicians who target Muslims, atheists, gays, and women’s choices over abortion and birth control are seeking to limit freedom, ultimately targeting the basis of a democratic culture. Such attacks weaken democracies even if a fully fascist regime does not emerge on the other end of the political process.