Donald Trump is always telling his supporters he will tell it like it is. So let me tell how, in every dictionary definition I have come across, the president is a fascist. This label is not so much a pejorative as a fact.
Let's first define fascism. Oxford Reference puts it this way: "an authoritarian and nationalistic right wing system of government and social organization." Let's put that another way: Would you invite Trump to a junior high civics class to discuss the concept of separation of powers as embodied in the U.S. Constitution?
Most Americans, if not all Minnesotans, have never lived under fascism. Many have died fighting it against the Nazis and Communists (fascists with different labels) and now radical Islamists.
Americans have to decide if they want to introduce this system into their lives like the Germans and Italians did in the 1920s and 1930s. Those peoples were emotionally destitute and thought fascism would make their lives better. It didn't, and they paid the consequences.
How come I know so much about fascism? I immigrated (yep, I'm one of those) to this country from Latvia to escape fascism. I was no different than today's Muslims who want to escape the fascism that rules their countries. When my family escaped, Jews and Catholics weren't being allowed into the U.S. for fear they might "contaminate" this nation. In Trump's parlance, they were "extremely vetted."
Ask yourself, if America is not great anymore, why do people still want to come here? Why not go to Uruguay? How come we won all those gold medals? Why are Apple's iPhones found in all parts of the world? And why is the U.S. dollar the official currency of Zimbabwe, whose leader, Robert Mugabe, said of a U.S. president, "His hands drip with innocent blood"?
The path was convoluted leading to the Republican Party becoming entwined with Trump. Trump wrapped his repugnant views to so many with an aura of respectability the party of Lincoln bestowed upon him.
Minnesota has gone through convoluted elections of its own. A flamboyant TV wrestler prone to wearing pink boas around his neck became governor when the Republican and Democrat candidates basically knocked each other out, allowing the independent Jesse Ventura to sneak in. As governor, he advocated for a unicameral legislature, tax rebates, and light rail to the airport. He now busies himself with conspiracy theories. Ventura once said he would like to be Trump's vice president.
The Republican Party, at its purest form, is for a decentralized system of government under which the states define how the country is run: true federalism. Trump, like many private business people, always has run an autocratic business where he alone makes decisions. There are about 2.7 million federal employees; how do you manage them without delegating?
Trump employed fear-mongering, a time-tested election tactic. He suggested that hordes of Mexicans will cross our southern borders while Islamic radicals fly in under the guise of tourists and political refugees. This was similar to how Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini came to power. They, too, blamed outside forces, namely the Jews, for making their lives miserable.
Trump garnered support convincing a certain segment of people he was telling it "like it is." What he really was saying was how he wanted it. With about $2 billion of free advertising, according to the New York Times, Trump captured people's attention - just like Ventura did with his pink feather boas.
In advertising, a "share of mind is a share of market." And now, with the media turning off his free megaphone, Trump has attacked the very same "crooked" media he previously embraced.
What is really troubling to me is that Trump says his supporters should be monitors at all polling places to make sure he isn't cheated. This smacks of Hitler's playbook with his enlisting of "brown shirts" to intimidate opponents and disrupt elections. This is what my parents told me fascism was like when I was born in Latvia.
John Freivalds of Wayzata, Minn., is the honorary consul for Latvia in Minnesota and is the author of six books. His latest is "Ramblin' Man." His website is jfapress.com.