I said earlier that my functional definition of fascism is the same as Potter Stewart's famous definition of pornography: I know it when I see it. And I see in the Donald Trump of 2015.
Whether at this stage, "fascist" is a better word or "fascistic," or maybe "fascistoid," I don't know. I'm not sure it makes much difference at this point. (See Dave Neiwert, Donald Trump May Not Be a Fascist, But He is Leading Us Merrily Down That Path Orcinus 11/28/2015.
But being a netroots Democrat, I also chronically worried about the timidity of Democrats. If Trump becomes the Republican Party's Presidential nominee, the Democratic candidate could do what LBJ did against Goldwater in 1964: take the chance to build a mandate for actual Democratic policies.
But today's corporate Democrats tend to think very differently. So I'm worried that many Democrats may look at Donald Trump and think, "This guy's a fascist. So we Democrats need to take conservative positions to reduce the chance Trump will get elected."
That kind of thinking leads the Democrats to take the approach of Alison Lundergan Grimes, the losing Democratic candidate for Senate in 2014, whose campaign produced this classically terrible campaign ad:
Alison for Kentucky TV Ad "Skeet Shooting" Alison for Kentucky YouTube 09/15/2015:
Also, the Goldwater movement was just beginning to contest other Republicans for full control of the party. Now the Republican Party generally is more hardline conservative than Goldwater, although not by that much, depending on your perspective.
There was a nasty split in the Republican Party in 1964 that helped produce the landslide for LBJ. It's hard to imagine a Trump victory in the primaries and winning the Republican nomination would produce anything remotely similar to that in 1964. Also in 1964, the Solid South voting for the Democratic Party was still in the process of breaking down. And the Texan Lyndon Johnson could compete effectively in Texas with its large number of electoral votes. Now the South is a Solid South for Republicans, although Florida is closer to being genuinely competitive. Goldwater carried only the state of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. It's nearly unthinkable that a Trump-Clinton or Trump-Sanders race would be that lopsided.
Digby takes note of the indications that today's Republican Party can be expected to be unified behind Trump if he wins the nomination in Sure, he's a problem. But not so much that they can't make the best of it. Hullabaloo 12/08/2015:
For all the hosannas being raised in the press this morning over the likes of Paul Ryan and Dick Cheney condemning the ban on Muslims as un-American, it rings just a bit hollow when most of the other candidates were happy to jump on the idea of only allowing Christian Syrians into the country and they've all stood silent as he endorsed torture and killing wives and children and rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented workers (who he defames as rapists and criminals) along with their American children.This is a real opportunity for the Democrats to emphasize how radically today's Republican Party is alienated from values of civic decency and democracy held by most Americans.
They're not going to abandon him. He can run as an independent and 68% of his voters say they'll stick with him if he does it. And then they'll definitely lose. No principle is so important to them that they'll knowingly jeopardize their chances.
Trump has major disadvantages as a Presidential candidate in the general election. But he won't be a weak candidate in the sense Barry Goldwater was in 1964. This is not your grandfather's Republican Party we're dealing with today. Their far more conservative, far more white-racist and xenophobic and as mean as Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney at all levels. And the Republicans can count on a partisan media network unmatched by anything they had in 1964. And the "quality press" in its various incarnations (broadcast, cable, print, online) is far more dysfunctional than it was in 1964.
The Democrats need to fight hard in 2016. Doing what Alison Grimes did, advertise how little you are committed to your own Party's program and lose to the Republican, is definitely not the way the Dems should approach 2016.