The Trump administration’s rise to power is looking a lot like the rise of fascist regimes in Western Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. Perhaps this is a bold comparison, but after a few weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, one may notice that the current political climate in the capital and in the states resembles that of post-World War I Europe, more specifically Italy and Germany. From the presidential race to inauguration day, and through his first few weeks in office, similarities have surfaced that give reason to fear this new administration.
The rise of fascism in post-WWI Europe in Italy and Germany share common themes. Both nations saw a period of political gridlock following the Great War. The main factor contributing to this gridlock was the rise of coalition governments battling for control in national parliaments.
In Germany, multiple parties were striving for majority control. One of those parties was the German Worker’s Party, or the NSDAP, which was more commonly referred to as the Nazi Party. The growth of this party along with the rise of the infamous Adolf Hitler was ascribed to the gridlock previously stated. Citizens of Germany turned to an outsider, the NSDAP, to solve this gridlock. Hitler was viewed by many surrounding nations as an unconventional statesman, not as a vicious totalitarian dictator. The political gridlock caused citizens to turn to outsiders and unconventional leaders to solve issues in their government.
Italy experienced a scenario similar to Germany. Coalition governments led to little action in the Italian Parliament, which provoked Italian citizens to turn to an outsider like Benito Mussolini, who had the backing of his Fascist Party. In 1922 Mussolini led a march on Rome to take over Parliament. The current king of Italy at the time, Victor Emmanuel III, could have prevented Mussolini’s march and taken over Parliament, yet he decided not to take action. The king took note of the political gridlock and perceived that Mussolini was a viable option to shuffle their national government. Once again, you see citizens turn towards outsiders and unconventional candidates to run political offices.
Today, we can see how these regimes of the past took power, how they grew from discontent. We can see that, in 2016, the same forces that brought about Trump brought about the fascist leaders of the years between the First and Second World Wars. The 2016 presidential election allowed many unconventional candidates and outsiders to enter the political atmosphere. Candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Trump and even Hillary Clinton were seen as unconventional presidential picks, regardless of one’s political alignment.
The first days of Trump’s presidency are reminiscent of a fascist regime. Kellyanne Conway reinforced this when referring to Sean Spicer’s false statements on Trump’s inauguration attendance as alternative facts. Calling falsehoods alternative facts shows a regime that is trying to shape the way their citizens think. Moreover, during a press conference Trump called a CNN news reporter “fake news” and would not take any questions. Refusing questions from a viable, albeit somewhat biased, news source also points to a totalitarian government style.
Furthermore, the travel ban on certain citizens from Middle Eastern countries looks similar to racial ideologies that were revered in post-World War I Europe. This ban promotes the ideal of “Trump’s America.” It embodies a type of nationalism that parallels the ideologies that allowed for atrocities to be committed during the Second World War. It fuels the idea that the only desired race or culture is White America.
It is important that we as citizens let our voice ring out, that we stand for what is right. We cannot let history repeat itself and follow a government that is reminiscent of those who have committed war crimes and atrocities. We need to learn from the past.