A disconcerting undertow of fascism has been making waves throughout this U.S. electoral season. As the election approaches, the fascist current has not slowed but accelerated, and the boat of the democratic system is pitching sharply…because the two major parties share the blame.
I cordially invite experts on fascism to complement my remarks, but it seems to me that there are two basic ways to launch fascism in a democracy: ride the democratic system into power (as Hitler did) or attack the credibility of the democratic system. A politician who says that his defeat would prove that the system is rigged is setting up a non-falsifiable proposition: either he wins or he wins. Such an attitude is not a warning that the electoral process may be flawed and should be strengthened; rather, it constitutes rejection of democracy.
To the degree that the elite in a democracy insists upon marginalizing reform advocates, such a self-centered elite lays the groundwork for a fascist attack on the system by demonstrating to reformers and the marginalized that neither has anywhere to go within the system. These groups, once forced out, are cannon fodder for extremists eager to overthrow democracy. Preventing certain social groups from voting (e.g., in Florida) or defending their rights via political activism (e.g., police brutality against blacks or Native Americans protecting their treaty rights) plays into the hands of extremists advocating politics based on violence rather than democratic compromise.
The foundation of the American political system–the core agreement that political decisions will be made by compromise rather than force–is today critically imperiled precisely because both major parties are now attacking the democratic rules, the Republicans by demanding victory as their price for participating and the Democrats by smugly ignoring the legitimate grievances of reformers from the Bernie Sanders wing to the most apolitical but repressed and mistreated member of the marginalized minority groups.
The CEO’s who think, with some reason, that they run the system should reflect carefully before encouraging their political lackeys to burn it down. It is precisely the stability of a relatively satisfied population that has offered these CEO’s the environment within which to get rich, and if the system burns down, those with the most will lose the most.