Originally used as a collective noun for the murderous, revolutionary hypernationalist movements that emerged in Europe from the embers of the First World War, the word is often employed today as a catch-all term of abuse for right-wing racists and rabble-rousers. Trump certainly qualifies as one of the latter, but calling him a Fascist serves to obscure rather than illuminate what he is really about.... he just wants to find something that works.
Part of the problem is a definitional one. Even historians who have spent their lives studying Fascism can’t agree on what the word means....Once something becomes an insult — like "asshole" — it loses its particular meaning and at some point it doesn't even hurt. But if you could get all historical about what "fascist" means, you'd have to admit Trump isn't a fascist:
Fascism, in its original form, had no time for parliamentary democracy, peace, or limited government. It exalted “direct democracy”—the incarnation of the popular will in a great leader—war, violence, and popular engagement in a totalitarian state. Trump, for all his bluster, hasn’t yet called for the repeal of the U.S. Constitution. He has expressed deep skepticism about U.S. military interventions overseas. And... he hasn’t endorsed the sort of systematic violence that characterizes Fascist movements. Plus... Trump is too much of a hedonistic individualist to endorse the sort of collective action and political mobilization that lay at the heart of Fascism....Cassidy says Trump is "the latest representative of an anti-immigrant, nativist American tradition that dates back at least to the Know-Nothings of the eighteen-forties and eighteen-fifties." Know-Nothing is another historical term that most people use without bothering to know the historical details, but...
The Know-Nothings originated as secret societies of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants angered by an influx of immigrants, particularly Irish Roman Catholics who were crossing the Atlantic to flee poverty and find work in the rapidly industrializing U.S. economy. The Know-Nothings got their name because, when asked about their clandestine activities, they often said, “I know nothing.” Fearful of popery, liquor, and big-city political machines that harvested the votes of new arrivals, they called for restrictions on immigration, the closure of saloons, and a ban on foreign-born people holding public office. “Americans must rule America,” they said....I don't see the objection to placing Trump in this "tradition," but what form has this tradition taken? As we say in constitutional law, "tradition is a living thing," and the tradition that exists now is something that has developed from the tradition that existed earlier and that contains what we've seen reason to keep and has lost what we did not value. Trump's message is resonating with many people, but why? Is it a tradition of hatred and fear? Those who would like to stop him assume it is, and connecting him to the 19th century tradition might seem to help defeat him, but you're missing a step if you assume that if he fits a tradition, he and his supporters have the same thoughts and feelings as the people back then. Obviously, he's not trying to close saloons and he seems to be okay with the Pope:
“I have great respect for the Pope. I like the Pope. I actually like him. He’s becoming very political, there’s no question about it. But I like him. He seems like a pretty good guy.”