May 24, 2024

“No, no,” some admonish: “Don’t get carried away. Sure, Donald Trump is dangerous, perhaps uniquely so. But … fascist? The need to label him a fascist says more about the labeler than about Trump.” This argument has sprung from certain quarters of the right, which was to be expected, but it has also sprouted from the left, where a point of view has arisen that the “hysterical” invocation of the f-word is as much a danger as Trump.

We have trouble seeing the hysteria. We chose the image on the cover of this issue for a precise reason: that anyone transported back to 1932 Germany could very, very easily have explained away Herr Hitler’s excesses and been persuaded that his critics were going overboard. After all, he spent 1932 campaigning, negotiating, doing interviews—being a mostly normal politician. But he and his people vowed all along that they would use the tools of democracy to destroy it, and it was only after he was given power that Germany saw his movement’s full face.

Today, we at The New Republic think we can spend this election year in one of two ways. We can spend it debating whether Trump meets the nine or 17 points that define fascism. Or we can spend it saying, “He’s damn close enough, and we’d better fight.”