I do not hope to provide a complete scheme for distinguishing fascists from non-fascists. Fascism, after all, is not simply a political program. In more modern parlance, fascism is also a vibe. It is ultra-nationalist in nature, with adherents fantasizing about a return to a national idyll that supposedly existed in the hazy recent past. Responsibility for deviations from that ideal is generally attributed to ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups. On them falls the blame for the alleged moral, cultural, political and economic decline of the nation.
Trump, for his part, opened his 2015 presidential campaign by portraying Mexican immigrants as rapists and vowing to build a wall to keep them out. He insisted that a Chicago-born federal judge could not fairly oversee a lawsuit against him because the judge’s parents were born in Mexico. He began his presidency by trying to fulfill a campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States. He told four Democratic female legislators of color that They should “Go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places you came from.” His administration repeatedly tried to deny civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans.
If intolerance were the only salient feature of fascism, it would of course be a superfluous term. Historical fascists also argue that the problems they identify cannot be resolved through the usual political means. Fascists often consider that the democratic mechanisms of their country are insufficient for the crises and the enemies that they perceive around them. They see parliamentary government as part of national decline, and thus see it as an obstacle to be overcome rather than a legitimate means of exercising power. Instead, that power must be wielded by a great leader, someone in whom the state can invest all of his or her authority to responsibly guide the national renaissance.