With the promised red tsunami beginning to look more like a red wave, Republicans have been desperate for something—anything—to get the November midterms back on their normal historical trajectory.
Joe Biden might have just given it to them.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told Democratic donors during a private meeting last week. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy behind it — I’ll say something: It’s like semi-fascism.”
Later, at another Democrat event, Biden continued, “I respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans… There aren’t many true Republicans left.”
Aside from Biden’s penchant for over-the-top gaffes, there may be method to his madness. “There’s a reason Democrats are keen to keep Trump at the center of the conversation.” tweeted conservative Ben Shapiro, “Half of independents say Trump is a major factor in their vote, and they break 4-1 for Democrats. Republicans shouldn’t be playing this game. If you do that, you’re driving because of a contusion.”
The January 6 riot in the Capitol (“Hang Mike Pence!”) and the more widespread phenomenon of refusal to vote for candidates who win subsequent GOP primary shows that this is not your father’s Republican Party.
However, Biden should be aware that similar observations — despite their accuracy or apparent political usefulness to the grassroots — have historically backfired.
In 2012, a video surfaced of Mitt Romney telling a private group of donors, “There’s 47 percent that’s in [Obama]who depend on the government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them… And they will vote for this President no matter what.”
Well there was some Truth to Romney’s testimony. About half of American households pay no income tax. A certain percentage of voters are habitual (unpersuasive) Democratic voters. A certain percentage of Democrats are socialists. Likewise, a certain percentage of Americans who receive welfare payments are likely to vote in their own economic self-interest.
None of these reservations mattered.
Four years later, Hillary Clinton made a similar mistake, saying, “You could put half of Trump’s supporters in what I call the basket of the unfortunate. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it.”
Like Romney, she played with the crowd and exaggerated the number of Americans she could write off. And like Romney’s “47 percent” line, there was a grain of truth in that, too.
The other thing they had in common? You both lost.
Unlike Romney and Clinton, Biden isn’t running for president (at least not right now), and midterm voters may not “count Biden in their down-blot calculations,” as conservative writer Matthew Continetti suggests.
Still, Biden has just faced the same criticism that proved so deadly in 2012 and 2016 — even as he added the weezy word “semi” before the F-bomb.
“Biden risks reminding everyone that liberals have wolf-cried before. Similar insults were hurled at Reagan.”
In fact, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu — hardly a Trumper — revealed the predictable pushback on CNNs state of the nation on Sunday: “The fact that the President would go out and only insult half America … effectively call half America semi-fascist because he’s trying to stir up controversy, he’s trying to stir up this anti-Republican sentiment just before the election … it’s terribly inappropriate.” .”
Dismissing half the nation as irredeemable seems like a tricky move.
But it would be a mistake to stop here without analyzing the uniqueness of the word fascist.
Almost nobody knows exactly what a fascist is, evidenced in part by the fact that it is typically used as a substitute for “authoritarian”. In the movie Bull DurhamCrash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) says strikeouts are “fascist” — in contrast to groundballs, which he thinks are more “democratic.”
My simplified abbreviation for “fascism” is “right-wing socialism,” but not everyone agrees that it is strictly a right-wing cause. In a recent column, he revisits his 2008 book Liberal FascismJonah Goldberg describes fascism as “a highly concentrated and toxic form of populism that manifests itself as mob politics, not manifestos”.
By this definition, there is legitimate reason for Biden to call the MAGA philosophy “semi-fascism.” Look no further than the January 6 riot, the fake election manifesto, or the links between Trumpworld and paramilitary groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and Trump supporters for evidence. Or, lastly, consider Sen. Lindsay Graham’s warning last weekend that there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted.
The danger is that for most of my life the word ‘fascist’ has been happily thrown around as a way of associating conservatives with essentially ‘Nazis’. For that reason, Biden risks reminding everyone that liberals have wolf-cried before. Similar insults were hurled at Reagan.
On the other hand, the fact that this word has been circulated so often might make it ironic fewer likely to backfire. There was something freshly transgressive about calling yourself “deplorable.” That’s not the case with “fascist” (although “semi-fascist” might have some tongue-in-cheek t-shirt potential in some circles).
Regardless of whether this will backfire against Biden, this strikes me as the latest example of Biden giving up the mandate to be who opposite by Trump. Like his decision to cancel student debt, Joe Biden’s appeal to the F word can be better understood as a man more focused on stirring up his base than as a president dedicated to restoring norms.
The only question that remains is whether this moment will matter — whether Biden’s use of the f-word will be a big f-ing deal.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-biden-may-regret-calling-maga-a-semi-fascist-movement?source=articles&via=rss Joe Biden may regret calling MAGA a “semi-fascist” movement