Center for Political Awareness

Silence Is Dangerous in the Current Age of Rising Fascism in the US

Social movements are creating powerful new languages for confronting tyranny. We must resist the plague of silence. (Click image for article.)

Former president Donald Trump speaks to the media outside a polling location at Londonderry High School in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on January 23, 2024. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

This week’s revelation that Donald Trump is already plotting new ways to try to put himself permanently above the law is just the latest reminder of the looming threat of lawless and emboldened right-wing forces in the United States. Trump’s new scheme to expand a Nixon-era policy memo to prohibit the Justice Department from prosecuting presidents, even after they leave office, is just a tiny hint of the greater threat. In recent months, several scholars have sounded the alarm that the United States is “sleepwalking towards authoritarianism.” The concern is not unfounded given that in his run for the presidency in 2024, Trump has boldly telegraphed his aspirations to impose an authoritarian future on the United States. He has repeatedly injected authoritarian language, extremist ideas and threats of violence into the mainstream. Moreover, he has done so to “create a climate of trepidation and powerlessness that discourages mobilization by the opposition,” in the words of scholar Ruth Ben-Ghiat. Forecasting his authoritarian intentions, Trump has openly stated that he intends to terminate portions of the U.S. Constitution, calls his political enemies “vermin” and boldly proclaims he will make himself a dictator “on day one.” On Truth Social, he claimed without irony that a president should have blanket authority and total immunity “even for events that ‘cross the line.’” He has repeatedly stated that if he regains the White House, “it will be a time for retribution” and revenge.

Taking pages from Hitler’s speeches, Trump has also said that the biggest threat to the United States “is from within.” In this instance, he reproduces a version of McCarthyite slander with his claim that the country is being overrun by “communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections, and need to be rooted out.” His constant attacks on what he labels as the “enemy within” are meant to incite his MAGA followers to wage violence against people of color, critics, progressives, LGBTQ+ Americans, news networks, immigrants, feminists, and any other group that does not buy into Christian nationalist, white supremacist views.

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