(photo credit: REUTERS)
Donald Trump is not a fascist – he is a populist. There is a huge difference between the two, a difference that leaves many people confused and befuddled.
While it is true that many of history’s great fascists were also populists, one does not necessitate the other. You can certainly be a populist without being a fascist.
Unlike fascism, populism is a tool of leadership, not a philosophy. In today’s world, populism seems to be a very effective tool with which to get yourself elected.
A populist leader will defend and unite the “little people,” the “common masses,” the people who have no other voice. Populism takes the message of change directly to the people, thereby avoiding the common norms of communication.
Strength is gathered from the grassroots and the unaffiliated, from the disaffected and the disenfranchised.
The populist leader is often derided as a demagogue, but upon closer inspection, that derision usually emanates from those who despise the populist and have been defeated and outwitted by his or her technique.
The populist’s defamers tend to be the elite and highly educated, well-connected and politically influential, who now perceive their power to be severely diminished.
There are populists on both sides of the aisle, populism does not discriminate between Right or Left. There is no hard and fast rule here. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was a populist on the Left while Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi was a populist on the Right. In the last US election there were two populist candidates – Bernie Sanders on the Left and Donald Trump on the right.
Fascism is a far cry from populism.
Fascism is a type of democracy in which all power is centralized. It is a one-party system and defines itself as the absolute and sole power. It views liberal democracy as obsolete. Fascists believe only in dictatorships and martial government without opposition. They despise communism, socialism, anarchism and every non-fascist in power.
The name and symbol, or logo, of fascism derive from the Latin, from there into Italian and then into every other language. The word comes from the root “fasces,” which means a bundle of sticks. Fascists chose their name and their accompanying symbol to signify that they, like a bundle of sticks, are a group tightly bound together, fighting for a common cause.
The symbol is a picture of the fasces (or wooden sticks bound together) with a hatchet in the center. Sometimes, other weapons – arrows, spears, swords, even an anchor, are bound with the hatchet as part of this symbol.
Unlike the swastika which has a long history, dating way earlier than Nazism, once Nazism took over and adopted it it became only a symbol of evil and Nazism.
The fascist symbol, too, has a history. But that history continues untarnished even today. It is so embedded in our culture that many people do not even realize that it is the fasces that is found on the reverse side of the Mercury dime. Or that it is part of the National Guard and the 71st regiment of New York uses it. Even the Knights of Columbus use it. And believe it or not, the fasces is on the seal of the US Tax Court, the flagpole in New York’s Washington Square Park and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.
Fascists like Hitler and Mussolini wanted to take over the world. They believed that there was a great conflict between evil communism – where the worker owned everything – and their fascism, where power rested with one great leader.
So next time you hear someone label Trump a fascist, educate them. We must all beware of using labels that are so extreme that they do not portray reality.
Trump is a populist president, not a fascist leader. Like him or don’t like him, but judge him and label him fairly.The author is a political commentator and the author of THUGS. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks with the press last week. (Reuters) on Twitter @MicahHalpern.