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Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

The author offers one of her periodic assessments of America's potential to go fascist. And the news is better than it's been in years.

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Polls over the past decade show that America is, at its core, a progressive nation in every way that matters, and that this trend is solidifying and expanding with time. As Nancy L. Cohen put it in Delirium: How The Sexual Counterrevolution Is Polarizing America:

Cultural progressivism is the new American way....A majority of all Americans now supports same-sex marriage. Americans strongly upholding Roe v. Wade, and strongly oppose the position of the Republican Party. Fully 62 percent think that abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, in which 89 percent of abortions occur; only 15 percent favor outlawing abortion in all circumstances. Americans have become less religious and less culturally conservative over the past 40 years. Polling on birth control and sexual morality show that Americans unequivocally reject the sexual fundamentalists' attempt to take us back to a time when sex was stigmatized and only legitimate when confined within the traditional heterosexual marriage. The majority of Americans believe in the basic values underpinning a culturally progressive approach to matters of sex, gender, family, and culture: privacy, personal freedom, equality, and pluralism.

This progressive bent also extends to the country's attitudes on ending corporate dominance over our economy, supporting a robust middle class, and addressing climate change and other environmental crises.

 

The conservatives know that the demographic trends are not on their side, and that whatever limited advantages they enjoy now are receding with every election cycle that passes. Right-wing America is old, white, rural, and religious -- a cohort that's shrinking with every passing year, and is even now in the process of being swamped by a tide of voters who are younger, urban, ethnically diverse, and largely non-churchgoing.  It was that tide, mobilized, that elected Obama -- the first time it's been heard from, but by no means the last.

So these hard-and-fast grabs for power are a Hail Mary play. The far right sees that the clock is running out. It's rushing to consolidate its gains as fast as it can, in the hope of slamming America as far to the right as possible in the time it has left -- and also building big, ugly legal obstacles that will make it much harder to undo the damage when the younger, more progressive wave that's rolling in finally does assume full control.

The Race for the Future

 

My past assessments of the far fascist fringe's political prospects were mostly predicated on which side would win this race for the future.

 

Would the far right -- now mostly standing under the Tea Party banner  -- manage to consolidate power fast enough to hijack our democracy entirely, and institute the fascist theocracy of its dreams? In 2010, the signs were strong that it was on track to move quickly toward that goal.

Or, alternatively: would the basic decency, common sense and patriotism of the American people kick in in time to halt the fascist power grab and knock the country back toward its better, fairer and more democratic side? Despair was deep and time was growing short. There were few signs on the ground that this was even possible.

In the past, I warned gravely that the first scenario was our default future unless something changed radically. Fascism creeps; and one of its hallmarks is that by the time you realize you're in it, it's too late to do anything about it. The legislative agendas being pursued in statehouses all over the country -- not to mention the stated willingness of congressional Tea Partiers to crash the American economy, tear up constitutional protections, enable theocracy, and bring our government to a standstill -- were clear warnings that our country was in the hands of radical revolutionaries who will stop at nothing, up to and including destroying the country, to get their way.

 
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