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Trump’s not a fascist. Biden’s not a socialist. Do the exercise …

Professor Jason Stanley recently wrote an article, “America is now in fascism’s legal phase”, for The Guardian where he argues that rhetoric and policy are laying the legal platform for a fascist United States.  Professor Stanley argues that the conservative portion of the American political spectrum is securing pathways to minority rule.  Racism, for example, is a mechanism used by the Right for securing minority rule.  By racializing democracy and creating a bogeyman from a volatile race environment, the Right can then hold up a figure like Donald Trump as the man who can save you from this environment.

Describing Donald Trump with such labels is nothing new, especially by those with political left leanings or who simply loathe his personality.  I have seen on mainstream and social media references to Mr Trump as being a “fascist” or a “Nazi”.  “Dictator” and “nationalist” are a couple other terms that have floated to the media surface.

My question is, why do we focus on these political prisms i.e., nationalism, fascism, Nazism, etc., versus where the energy itself is moving?  Aren’t assertions of nationalism, fascism, socialism, Nazism, etc., used by political factions to divert political energy and behavior either away from the party making the assertions or toward a party’s opponents?

These prisms are used to shed negative light on political opponents in most cases with the high probability that the audience will not subject these prisms to a definition check, or worse, they will rely on another to provide the definitions.

Let’s take a look at some definitions and I will leave it up to you to determine how any politician, on the Left or on the Right, fits into these definitions.

Fascism– A form of government characterized by dictatorship, belligerent nationalism and racism, and militarism.  Source: Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Racism-The practice of racial discrimination, segregation. Source: Webster’s New Dictionary.

Belligerent-at war, of war, warlike. Source: Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Government-An agency of the State.  A mechanism by which sovereign power expresses its will. Source: Black’s Law Dictionary.

Dictatorship-One in whom supreme authority in any line is invested. One who rules autocratically, and who prescribes for others authoritatively, and offers oppressively. Source: Black’s Law Dictionary.   

Autocracy-The name of an unlimited monarchical government.  A government at the will of one man (called an “autocrat”), unchecked by constitutional restrictions or limitations. Source: Black’s Law Dictionary.    

Nationalism-Devotion to one’s nation. Patriotism. The advocacy of national independence. Source: Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Militarism-A policy of aggressive military preparedness. Source: Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Communism-A system of social organization. Any theory of social organization involving common ownership of agents of production of industry. A system by which the state controls the means of production and the distribution and consumption of industrial products. Source: Black’s Law Dictionary.

Socialism-A theory or system of ownership of the means of production and distribution by society rather than by individuals. Source: Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Both the Right and the Left including their supportive media throw around these terms without defining them.  Your exercise, should you choose to accept it, is to identify specific, documented actions by Mr Trump that would put him in the fascist box.  Then, do the same thing for the current president, Joe Biden.

And I emphasize specific, documented action.  Not what Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity claims that Trump or Biden did, but the regulation or executive order issued that makes either one fascist, communist, nationalist, etc.

If you exercise the necessary rigor in answering the above questions, your next questions should be, “Why did I hold these beliefs?”  “How did my household benefit from holding these beliefs?”  “How do I avoid falling into the narrative trap again?”  

As for Professor Stanley’s assertion that America is in fascism’s legal phase, I would argue that it is not there yet.  Before a fascist legal phase is arrived at, the United States government will have to spin and transmit a clear narrative that a sole figure, a dictator, is necessary to solve America’s domestic and global problems.  Political support for a dictator will need to be rubber stamped by the national legislature and legislation published. This legislation would codify the new narrative; tell the story of how the fascist faction won the political day; and order executive and independent agencies to implement public policy supporting a new form of government.

Only then would American fascism be in a legal phase.

As long as the democratic institutions of an executive, national legislature, and federal court system exists, it will be hard to sell the majority of Americans that they are in fascism’s legal phase.  If this is the case, then Americans should ask Nancy Pelosi why she and her fellow Democrats are wasting time with a January 6th witch hunt versus amending the Constitution and passing legislation ordering all federal agencies to clean their houses of any remnants of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler.

Alton Drew

3 July 2022

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The Court is the King’s bench: Limiting the US Supreme Court by re-aligning institutions …

“The province of the court is, solely, to decide on the rights of individuals, not to inquire how the executive, or executive officers, perform duties in which they have a discretion.  Questions, in their nature political, or which are, by the constitution and laws, submitted to the executive, can never be made in this court.” Marbury v Madison

I came across the above quote while further reflecting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  During this reflection, I reminded myself that court opinions are pieces of strategic communications first and foremost.  Court or case law reconciles philosophy, government narrative, politics, and policy in order to clarify what the law is.

During days of monarchy, it was clearer as to what the law was.  It was the king’s edict.  The court was the king’s bench.  From the bench, the king announced the law, clarifying it and applying it when settling controversies. His designees, scribes, and later “lawyers” would be tasked with spreading his rulings through the land wherever controversies arose.

I am not calling for a return to those simpler times, but I believe that using that simple framework from antiquity could be used for reforming the court.

When the opinion in Dobbs was issued, the arguments about reforming the court came to surface again.  The most poignant argument from the Left has been that the number of justices on the court needs to be expanded so that the diversity of current society and its values are better represented.  By extension, the Left appears to be saying that a court of say 15 justices, more racially and gender-identity diverse, would come to rulings more in line with the sentiments of society.

The data provides the Left some support in that regard.  As I determined in a previous post, approximately 60% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal, yet the majority in Dobbs noted in its analysis that historically, most states have treated abortion as a crime and given that the right to an abortion is not expressed in the Constitution, history, along with text and precedence, should be a factor when determining if the right exists at all.

But are courts representatives of the people?  Are they a representative body and should they be?  The majority in Dobbs seems to drive home the point that the court is not a representative body.  It is a creature of a republic but not a democratic body.  The court reiterated that the public should have these debates and have the debates decided legislatively via the state representatives they, the people, elected. 

I could see rebuttal from the Left where Marbury is cited as license for the high court to decide on the abortion rights of the individual woman.  The court, at least a court preferring a strict reading of the Constitution, will say, “Sure, we agree that we decide on individual rights, but only on those rights the people and their government explicitly say exists and abortion is not one of them.”

The court did a full-court libertarian press with this opinion, taking itself out of the decision as to what a woman can do with her body.  That is the irony; that pro-choice advocates would want the government involved in the decision at all. I don’t believe these advocates asked themselves if the benefit of having a uniform abortion law that saves them on the costs of forum shopping is worth the cost of their individual liberties and the slippery slope that raises these costs.

But back to the issue of reforming the court.  Reformation should start with ensuring that the court is politically aligned with the administration.  Each member should be nominated or re-nominated by the elected president.  The justices’ terms would be attached to the term in office of the President. It would be understood that decisions on individual rights, the interpretation of the Constitution, the clarification of the law would be done within the philosophy, narrative, politics, and polices of the Administration. This approach raises the importance of voting, especially since a president relies on a supportive Senate majority to get her nominees through confirmation.

Is Congressional legislative intent left out in the cold? No, because the policies of an administration are based on the president’s duty to execute the law, so any interpretation of the law by the court takes Congress’ intent into account.

A real government speaks with one voice.  A re-alignment ensures clarity and reduces uncertainty.

The electorate has been passing the buck for too long.  If Americans endorse the notion of government, it has to endorse an electoral process that aligns all spinners of political narrative into one box.  Society is too split, its government’s policies too disjointed for this reason.     

Alton Drew

30 June 2022

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