May 24, 2016
Article originally appeared in May 23 ‘Letters to the Editor’ in The Washington Post
Regarding Robert Kagan’s May 20 op-ed, “How fascism comes to America”:
One need not be a fan of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to understand the differences among a “mobocracy” in 18th-century France, Italian and German fascist movements in the first half of the 20th century, and Mr. Trump’s candidacy. The mob in France moved against a monarchy, not a democratic republic. Neither Italy nor Germany had a strong tradition of democratic governance or lengthy unity as a nation-state.
The framers of our Constitution addressed the potential for “mob” rule descending into tyranny by creating a system of checks and balances at the federal level, and vesting important powers in the states. We have an independent judiciary, a free press now linked by the means of instant communication and a people who have stood up for our rights for more than two centuries. These are greater barriers to the rise of a tyrant than any example Mr. Kagan cited.
Actual fascists murdered millions of people in the last century. We should not demean the loss of these innocents by cheapening the use of the term, any more than the Holocaust should be used to describe events that do not constitute a similar horror.