Trump is not a fascist and the US is not Weimar, 1930 or 1932.
Ah, fuck it. I was going to write a big, long post on what is fascism and what was Weimar, but, shit, I don’t think Trump will get the GOP nomination and while the US is a too-violent society, including too much political violence, the parties don’t have paramilitaries which members regularly assault and assassinate one another.
I mean, I might at some point post on Weimar—keee-RIST what a fascinating period!—but the thought of tying that fascination to an explication of the not-fascism of someone who will not be the GOP nominee just makes me tired.
I will say the main reason I don’t think Trump is a fascist is the main reason I don’t think he’ll win: the lack of organization.
Italian fascists: organized.
Trump? Well, he has staff, some of them quite interesting, and apparently a great many paid organizers in Iowa, but how many of those staff and organizers actually know what they’re doing? Even Molly Ball, in a piece generally credulous about Trump’s organization, notes that
To be sure, Trump’s campaign isn’t totally standard: Few of his hires have presidential campaign experience; his Iowa chairwoman is a former contestant on his reality show, The Apprentice. He doesn’t have a pollster or a super PAC. Though his press secretary, Hope Hicks, occasionally tangles with the media, he frequently gets on the phone with reporters to speak for himself in articles about him, rather than deploying a spokesperson.
(She thinks that latter bit is “refreshing”, and that “more candidates should do it”—which, Jesus, is wrong—and thinks that the fact that “Trump just found a bunch of people he liked and hired them, and it’s working out great” means that his organization is up to snuff. Ask me sometime what I think of Molly Ball’s analytical skills.)
He is doing well in the polls, sure, but can he translate that into primary votes? According to this Tim Fernholtz piece, as of October he hadn’t yet purchased data on voters:
“The voter file is a foundational piece for any grassroots campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Patrick Ruffini, a veteran GOP operative who founded digital agency Engage, told Quartz. “If Trump’s campaign were not using any voter file, even after being offered it by the RNC, that would be a pretty shocking statement.”
He and his staffers can talk all they want about his “unconventional” approach, but primary (and general) election voting is a grind: You have to identify people who are likely to vote for your candidate, make sure they actually will vote for your candidate, and get them to the polls. If you lack a voter database, you can’t identify your likely voters, can’t reach out to them, and can’t make sure they actually show up to vote.
Trump staffers are, apparently, getting “bushels” of voters’ names, and they’ve apparently been grinding through them, but it’s not clear how well those names grabbed at rallies and restaurants match up with voter files, and thus, not clear how well his staffers will be able single out those who are willing to say “Go Trump!” to a pollster and those who are willing to spend several hours locked in a room on a Monday night in February.
And even if the rest of the primaries aren’t caucuses, that is, that they do only require a quick jaunt behind the curtain, there are 50 more of them; does he have infrastructure—and is he willing to pony up the money for the staff—to make it to through Super Tuesday, much less to June?
I do recognize that I could be wrong about all of this, that Trump may have figured out how to crack the delegate-gathering process the same way he’s figured out how to crack into the campaign itself. It’s entirely possible that I, in following Jonathan Bernstein, Nate Silver, and the rest on the durability of the old model of successful primary campaigns, am getting it wrong.
But I don’t think so.
And fucking hell, I just wrote an entire fucking post on this man, even after saying I wouldn’t bother. Sucked y’all in with that ‘fascism bit’ and taking a turn at ‘organization’. Man. Sorry about that.