Hey look, I get it. Most of us come from the right side of the political spectrum. Our journey to fascism most likely originated in the frustration of seeing an inept conservatism attempt to implement its agenda in the face of a hostile media and liberal political establishment. This view is not an easy one to shake. Residue is not just something organic which clings to you after an attempt to wipe it off. It can also symbolize ideas, which remain long after their usefulness expires. In the ABP, we come across this with most new members. Especially in this culture, nobody’s first political doctrine is fascism. We live in a society founded on classical liberal ideals ingrained in our subconscious from an early age, and while contemporary politics often manifests itself very differently, at a foundational level the God given rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” come to define us.
As we grow and mature the happy smiley face which covers the façade of the society we inhabit begins to crumble before our eyes. Individuals adopt a variety of means to compensate for the decay of their reality. The right likes to blame the left, claiming that Marxists have stealthily invaded our political and academic institutions, brainwashing an ignorant but well-meaning populace. While the left transforms the bogeyman in the closet and portrays it as the fascist in the closet, implying that we’re constantly on the verge of a fascist takeover, or that our country is currently fascist. What these points of view have in common is a complete denial of rationality, an attempt to make reality conform to preconceived notions of virtue, and truth. It’s a simplistic, myopic construct which reveals a sickness at the foundation of our politics and institutions. Increasingly over the last decade or two, more and more individuals are beginning to recognize the fallacy of contemporary politics and look into alternatives which have been shunned since the end of the Second World War. For those who have made this journey the road is never traversed without bumps and potholes. The drive is through an environment littered with vestiges of the worldview left behind, always there to tempt the wanderer to come back and many times the novice fascist is unable to resist the siren call and ends up abandoning his/her new philosophy. Others continue down the road but find the residues of past political beliefs difficult to shake, often times coming back to the original starting point of believing fascism to be conservatism on steroids. And, hey, I get it. Temptation is tempting for a very good reason. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to the right when you see clean cut Trump supporters being physically and verbally assaulted by Anarchists and Antifa demonstrators who operate in secrecy, unwilling to show their faces, and who have a vocabulary which would make George Carlin blush, or when images are shown of children at LGBT pride parades being exposed to values contrary to accepted notions of decency. The resulting emotion produced is one of anger and defiance. Our two-party system being what it is leaves the novice fascist with the only perceived option being one of supporting the lesser of two evils, the Republican Party. What needs to be asked though is whether the support of the Republican Party getting us closer to where we want to be or is it solidifying the social trends that we abhor.
Recently there’s been a surge of discussion and activity by members surrounding the nomination Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. To many, the allegations surrounding him resemble previous attempts by the left to smear those on the right due to political disagreements. So, the temptation comes back to close ranks around a perceived ally against the amorality of the left. The alleged truth of these accusations is not the issue at stake here. If they were then conservatives would go to bat for liberals whenever they felt they were being falsely accused of sexual harassment, something that never happens. It might be on a subconscious level, but the defense of Kavanaugh is a swerving off the road of fascist thought and into the direction of the residual ideology of conservatism. Much like the temptation brought about by the election of Trump, the controversy of Kavanaugh threatens our philosophical integrity.
Support for not only Kavanaugh, but for conservatism inevitably leads to support for Republicans at the ballot box. Part of our desire to cast a vote on Election Day is inevitably a byproduct of the residual harping that has been drilled into us since a young age about the importance of doing your duty, or your patriotic obligation as an American to cast a vote. Upon reflection, these phrases lack specific meaning. Much like the Bill of Rights, and American political thought in general, the right to actually engage in a specific action is valued more highly than the content of that actual action. Speech itself is valued more highly than the type of speech being used. The right to bear arms is looked upon as a good in itself outweighing how those arms are used. And it is also the same with voting. The act of voting is looked upon as an inherently patriotic act, without regards to who is being voted into office. The form counts for more than the substance of the act being done. Rights being something viewed as innate in humanity are looked upon as a good in themselves. A vote given out of the obligation rationale is a vote for the system which it sustains. Opposition to the current political structure and its rationale is not unpatriotic, and despite what others like to say, the refusal to vote doesn’t take away your moral authority to complain about those put into office. To the contrary, those unhappy with the present system who vote out of an inward need to do their patriotic duty despite the lack of quality choices forfeit their right to complain about that system. It’s only through a false sense of obligation to a system which is defined by its corruption that the system is able to perpetuate itself.
As we travel down the road to fascism, many of us are able to shake the sense of obligation to the system, but soon come across an even stickier residue, the attraction to the ideology left behind, conservatism. At root the tug of war between the new and the old is whether support for the old can get us to the new. The path may be slower but travels off the beaten path could theoretically still get us to our endpoint, or at least that’s what advocates of the lesser of two evil theory would like us to believe. To hold this theory as valid one would be required to believe that the country as we know it would be markedly worse off if Carter had beaten Reagan, or Dukakis had beaten Bush, or if the variety of Republican congress’ we’ve had over the years were instead controlled by democrats. This belief is connected to the one mentioned earlier which tries to rationalize supporting the current system through a simplistic evaluation and a resulting solution to the present problems. “If only we had more moral conservatives in office the progressive advance of moral decay could be halted and even reversed.” This point of view takes the symptom of the problem for being the actual problem, ignoring larger social policies, pursued by both parties which create atomic individuals and destroy communities. In fact, abortion rates were at their highest throughout the 1980’s, reaching a peak in 1990 before coming down. This despite those on the right advocating for criminalizing the procedure. The free market policies advocated by Conservatives are equally if not more responsible for the moral decay we see across the nation. While the repetitive viewing of immoral acts on the television or computer screen can numb a person to those acts in real life. Being without the means of supporting your family, or occupying most of your waking hours in a meaningless job, or not being able to see a doctor out of inability to pay the doctor’s bill will numb the individual to any larger connection with his community and nation, viewing these as the source of his frustrations and anger. These larger social units being the true representation of his individuality, their devaluing in his own mind leads to the subsequent devaluing of all of their building blocks.
The present system does not survive because it works; on the contrary, it creates a cynical narcissism, which is a cancer on the body politic. It survives because people who should have known better help to perpetuate it. The lesser of two evils mindset, the sense of obligation, the insistence on using talking points from Fox News, and Alex Jones all keep alive something which should have been replaced long ago. Liberal democracy won’t be overthrown violently in a coup d'etat. Only through the loss of legitimacy will real change occur. The continued use of the ballot box with the only option being the lesser of two evils takes us off the road were on and back into the waiting arms of the residue we swore to leave behind.