Should Donald Trump be compared to Hitler and Benito Mussolini because he is a fascist like they were? Not really, says Robert O. Paxton, Professor at Columbia University, in his recent article. Although Paxton says Trump cannot be accurately characterized as a fascist, he is a “special case altogether. Superficially, he seems to have borrowed a number of fascist themes for his presidential campaign: xenophobia, racial prejudice, fear of national weakness and decline, aggressiveness in foreign policy, a readiness to suspend the rule of law to deal with supposed emergencies. His hectoring tone, mastery of crowds, and the skill with which he uses the latest communications technologies also are reminiscent of Mussolini and Hitler”.
Paxton says Trump appears to have engaged in a “self-indulgent demagoguery on behalf of oligarchy for Donald Trump” as a “tactical expediency.”
Paxton appears to base his theories on Trump’s willingness to focus on the country’s national security and military strength, loose Immigration policies, less regulatory interference, weak foreign trade status, and the nation’s fear of terrorism. It does seem that the Republican Presidential candidates are all focused on these issues. Paxton equates these political agendas to racism and xenophobia, and to Trump mainly due to his raw rhetoric directed at minorities. He appears to conclude that such policies necessarily exclude the majority of Americans by placing the power into the hands of a few. Of course, this doesn’t make any sense because over one-half of Americans put these issues at the top of their criteria for selecting a new President (Trump’s “foul” language troubles many). Any comparison of Trump to Mussolini and Hitler– two apparent psychopaths and serial killers– is stupid, and this appears to be why Paxton stops just short of drawing this conclusion. Rather, it is clear that the agendas of the Republicans, and notably Trump, may not fit the political ideology of Paxton, and Trump may be appealing to popular desires, but so are the other politicians– it is what national candidates do. Paxton confuses inflamed speech with evil intent.