This may go against the grain of what I have read of late, but my suspicion is if we want to find a form of governance and rule that might give us a clue as to what we might expect from Trump and his administration, we would probably gain more insight if we look to Putin’s Russia than Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy.
Putin’s regime is authoritarian, assertive, ultra-nationalist, xenophobic, racist, contemptuous of democracy, corrupt, and culturally retrograde, and aggressive on the world stage, but governs in a country that retains, albeit compromised, democratic structures and forms, political parties and regular elections, space for citizen actions and people’s organizations, and a mass media. None of the latter existed in any meaningful sense in either Germany or Italy. Where structures of democratic governance existed, they were empty of any democratic content.
While such comparisons (Putin and Trump) have limitations, I could easily see the Trump administration gravitating, if allowed, in this direction, adapting, of course, to the particulars of our country and its traditions. It would be wrapped and rationalized in the rhetoric of personal responsibility, family and family values, fighting Islamic terrorism, safe and secure borders, protection of the unborn, color blindness, rewarding work not dependence, Christian virtues, America for Americans, and, above all, Making America Great Again.
Among other things, the problem with saying that fascism is around the corner is that it can cause people who are concerned about the president-elect, but aren’t disposed to any form of political action other than voting to retreat into the privacy of their own lives out of fear rather than engage in public and mass forms of opposition to the Trump administration and the Republican controlled Congress.