The GOP begins 2024 as the party of pure fascism. There's no two-ways about it.
Republicans are more loyal to the Jan 6th insurrectionists and the admitted "dictator" Trump at the start of this election year than they were three years ago.
So here we are. Officially in the election year of 2024, and in for the fight of our lives at the ballot.
I'm ready, and I hope you are. Part of being ready is being clear about what we're up against and repeating it no matter how many times we've said it before.
You would think that since the January 6th insurrection of 2021, since the January 6th committee hearings, and since the indictments of Donald Trump, more Republicans would believe the 2020 election was legitimate and that January 6th was an attack on democracy. But the opposite has happened.
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A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll out today confirms that three years after the Jan. 6th attack, Republicans are more loyal to the vile mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol and bludgeoned law enforcement and “more likely to absolve Donald Trump of responsibility for the attack” than they were in 2021:
Republicans’ increasing loyalty to the former president comes as he simultaneously campaigns for reelection and fights criminal charges over his attempt to stay in power after losing in 2020. Republicans are now less likely to believe Jan. 6 participants were “mostly violent,” less likely to believe Trump bears responsibility for the attack, and are slightly less likely to view Joe Biden’s election as legitimate than they were in a December 2021 Post-UMD survey.
The good news: The majority of Americans, 55%, believe Jan. 6th was “an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten.” That includes a majority of Democrats and a majority of independents. The overall majority is only 55%, however, because only 24% of Republicans agree with that fact and only 17% of Trump voters agree, a drop from several years ago.
So a clear majority of Americans support democracy, and that means a clear majority stands against Trump and insurrectionists as we head to the ballot later this year. Trump and the GOP can and will be beaten if we work as hard as we have in the past few election cycles. The anxiety-provoking election polling we’ve seen is the same media bloviating we’ve seen in each of those election cycles.
But we have to take stock of this fact: The GOP is now the party of fascism—not in the abstract, but for real—and Trump, in line with Hitler, Mussolini, and other dictators of the past, has a dangerous grip on a large number of voters. Per the Washington Post survey, over one-third of Americans believe the 2020 election was not legitimate, a number that has risen as the percentage of Republicans who believe it has increased. And this:
Two years ago, 60 percent of Americans overall said Trump bears “a great deal” or “a good amount” of responsibility for the attack; now, 53 percent do. Again, Republicans are driving that change — 14 percent assign him a great or good amount of culpability, about half as many as did in 2021 (27 percent).
So Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have gone in the opposite direction than the rest of the country, further supporting Trump and insurrectionists. Even as Trump has been indicted four times, charged with 91 felony counts, and even as he has channeled Hitler and Mussolini in calling his opposition “vermin” and saying that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country”, and vowing to weaponize the DOJ against his perceived enemies.
They support Trump’s open embrace of Project 2025, a document that outlines sweeping government control, including using the Insurrection Act to squelch protest. They cheered him on when Trump said he'd be a “dictator on day one.”
You can’t call it anything but fascism—and that’s what we must call it. It’s an open acknowledgement. Even Trump, responding to criticism, admitted he was using Hitler’s words—”in a much different way”—though he claimed not to have read Mein Kampf. He seemed to be suggesting he was simply innately a dictator—didn’t need to read the book—and that Hitler screwed it all up (after all, he did lose the war), but that he’ll get it right.
How could anyone—let alone millions—support Trump after all of that, in addition to his vow to pardon the January 6th insurrectionists? The only answer is fascism. We’ve heard extremists admitting it, with influencers and far-right academics talking about how democracy isn’t working for them—apparently because they’re the minority now—and how they need an authoritarian, a “Red Caesar,” as they’ve called it, who will wield power on their behalf.
In interviews, Trump supporters talk about how January 6th was acceptable because people were mad.
“There were so many people who felt the election was rigged. It was not right for them to break in like that, but they were fed up and frustrated, and they were whipped into a frenzy by the FBI and others,” Colleen Michaels, 59, of Woodsfield, Ohio, told The Washington Post.
And they support neither following the rule of law nor accepting the outcome of an election—including what might happen in this year’s election.
“[Trump’s] a fighter—he loves to get in that courtroom and would appeal anything that’s up against him, and I think that’s what people really like about him,” said Michael Bettger, 49, of Austin, Arkansas, to the Washington Post. “[Biden] would accept defeat” because “he’s a political person, and he does basically everything everybody tells him to do,” Bettger said. “He doesn’t think outside the box.”
So, Biden accepting a legitimate loss shows him to be weak, while Trump refusing to accept a legitimate loss shows him to be a fighter.
That’s fascism. Thinking ‘outside the box” means rejecting democracy and accepting fascism. The GOP—its elected officials, and its base—have been completely swept up in it, all following their one true leader.
Again, the good news is that the majority of Americans don’t support it. With the Electoral College, third-party candidates, useless corporate media, and lots of anti-democratic forces, we of course can’t take that majority for granted and will have to work hard. But that majority is there.
And there is further good news. The booming economy is finally breaking through in terms of how people are feeling. Abortion rights will be front and center, and the issue has proven to be powerful in winning elections for Democrats since the fall of Roe—and the GOP is completely unable to cope with the fallout. And Trump and his supporters, intoxicated by early, problematic polls, are getting more and more cocky, revealing more unhinged plans that will only further fire up the majority that stands for democracy.
But make no mistake—it is about fascism. And that’s something we need to say so that all the fence sitters on our side, the people complaining about this or that Biden policy—or Biden’s age—understand it. As I wrote in September, and as the facts, the dictatorial statements and policies, and the polling of the GOP base have since shown, the 2024 election is clear: it’s Joe Biden vs. fascism.