Even before the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in 1945, there has been a knee jerk tactic to brand one’s enemies in the political arena with the tag of “fascist.” This phenomenon has become an epidemic since the 1960’s and even more so during the Clinton Administration leading into the GW Bush term after the Republicans stole power in 2000.

In the Spring of 2003 during the buildup toward the illegal invasion of Iraq, Dr. Lawrence Britt published, “The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism.” No doubt, the events of the time were influencing his thought process; the Florida Fiasco in 2000, the Project For a New American Century, Evangelical Conservatism, and the basic animosity of the right-wing in their dealings with moderates and those on the left. The term became synonymous with bullying tactics, threats of force, and the usurpation of rights.

Since I’ve become politically aware (in the late 1970’s), I’ve heard politicians, media figures, and educators comparing their ideological opponents to Hitler and fascists to an extent that it’s become a tired cliché. It’s being looked at now like the lowest bastion of a debater with no other retort to the arguments he or she is hearing from the other side.

The word is thrown around so much that many people are unaware of the extent of the label. Still, nothing fires up a base of support like the political “F” word. At the same time, nothing maligns a point of view like succumbing to the lure of labeling the other side with the word. “Look,” says the leggy Fock Snooze host, “They’re calling “right-wing politician” a fascist, just because he wants to…” Fill in the blank.

The word has been reduced to an ad hominem attack.

When reading through Dr. Britt’s article, be aware that characteristics are just that, characteristics. One of the defining characteristics of a tiger is black stripes. That does not mean that a zebra is now a tiger. No more does the fact that the Soviet Union had a disdain for recognizing human rights mean that communists are now fascists.

Totalitarians share a disdain for human rights, be it left or right on the world continuum.

Even though George W. Bush’s presidency had many (if not all) of the 14 characteristics defined by Dr. Britt, the United States was obviously not fascist in the way that Nazi Germany was in the 1930’s through World War 2. The Bush Administration did not outlaw all other political parties and did not send political opponents to concentration camps. Still, when reading this article by Dr. Britt and thinking back to the Bush Administration and today’s Republican Party, there are frightening similarities between them and the Nazis.

Yes, I know that Prescott Bush and Adolf had a special bond. But, apart from having a grandfather that sympathized and helped finance the construction of Nazi concentration camps, there were certain aspects of the Bush Administration that can be characterized by Dr. Britt’s list.

It’s also a fact that George W Bush appointed many war mongers to high posts in the administration. The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war is propaganda straight out of the concept of Lebensraum, or “living space.” It’s also been stated by many scholars and media types that the Project for the New American Century was Bush’s “Mein Kampf.”

In the coming weeks, I’ll explore the 14 characteristics of fascism and try to relate them to the recent actions of politicians in this country. By reading through the list, I’m sure the reader can point out a few examples for each.

Put on your thinking caps and dive in.

Image source: Drawing by A.L. Tarter [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons