The United States has had its Fascist demagogues in the past nearly hundred years of our history, but luckily, they “burned out” very quickly.
We had Democratic Governor and Senator Huey P. Long, who condemned the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s era of the Great Depression. He had a big following on radio; drew large public crowds; preached “Every Man A King” and “Share The Wealth” as he attacked Wall Street; had his own group of “storm troopers” to protect him; and made clear that he hoped to come to power on a national level, having alienated his Senate colleagues and the President by his tactics and showmanship.
His potential threat disappeared, however, when he was assassinated in the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge in September 1935, a mystery that still exists today, as covered in Chapter 7 of my book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). He reminded many of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both of whom had not yet become as aggressive and warlike as they would become in the mid to late 1930s and early 1940s.
Then we had evil personified in Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, who stirred fear and insecurity in America in the early 1950s, when he accused Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and many government and other public figures of being Communists, or “soft on Communism”.
He ruined thousands of people’s lives, caused their deaths or complete destruction of their lives, but it was all a ploy backed by right wing conservatives, who continue to honor him, even after his political downfall in December 1954 when the US Senate condemned him, and his early death of alcoholism in May 1957. This despicable man was a true Fascist demagogue with too many people ready to back him, but his cockiness and arrogance and false charges finally brought him down.
Then we had Democratic Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, who sowed racism in America as he stood in the door of the University of Alabama in 1963 to attempt to block integration of the state university, and allowed police brutality in Birmingham and elsewhere, leading to the bombing of a black church and the death of young girls in the explosion.
A true Fascist demagogue of the worst kind, he actually gained five states and 46 electoral votes as a third party candidate for President in 1968. Then, while running in 1972 again, he was shot and paralyzed for life by an assassin, a tragic event for sure, but brought on by his notoriety and demagogic nature. Wallace’s story is well covered in Chapter 11 of my new book mentioned above.
And then we had Patrick Buchanan, an aide to President Richard Nixon and President Ronald Reagan, who promoted nativism and racism and antisemitism, including Holocaust denial, as he campaigned against President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 primaries; against Bob Dole in the 1996 primaries; and then ran as a third party candidate of the Reform Party in 2000.
Due to confusion in Palm Beach County, Florida, Buchanan gained 4,000 votes that were intended by voters for Al Gore, but mistakenly, these elderly, mostly Jewish voters punched the wrong hole on the “butterfly” ballots, and by doing so, caused the election of George W. Bush statewide, officially by a total of 537 votes, sadly denying Al Gore the Presidency, despite his national popular vote lead of 540,000!
Buchanan clearly was and is a Fascist demagogue, who, however, has become someone ignored, and no longer has a major media presence in his later years, as he once did on cable television as a political commentator on MSNBC and CNN, although he still is on Fox News Channel and PBS.
And now we have, at the least, two Fascist demagogues, now considered the front runners in the Republican race for President—Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz! Again, the fight against right wing Fascism and its elements–racism, nativism, misogyny, antisemitism—remain a battle decent people must fight with every ounce of their energy!