From Kagan (link is to Brookings, which re-ran it):
But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.
And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies—his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence.
His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others”—Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees—whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.I get the feeling Kagan does not like Trump or his supporters. They have taken over a broken and foolish party that is an appendage of special interests rather than a true representative of conservatives. Unbridled free trade is the antithesis of Reaganism, which embraced both free trade and tariffs to protect our manufacturers from the very dumping that Never Trumpers ignore.
Kagan's sneers at Trump, as if Kagan is intellectually superior. Trump happens to hold a couple of degrees himself including one from Wharton and has co-written 18 books. Kagan also treats Trump as a subhuman who doesn't speak but delivers "incoherent and contradictory utterances." I doubt Kagan ever listened to a single speech Trump made.
As for his attitude, all leaders have one. Kagan denies that the policies of Washington (both left and right) have "produced national weakness and incompetence," but our nation is weak and the federal government is incompetent -- or does Kagan think everything is swell at the IRS, VA hospitals, and the EPA? As for weakness, Russian planes routinely buzz our aircraft and those of our allies without any response from our commander-in-chief.
But Kagan convinced himself that nationalism is evil, strongmen too. This leads to an illogical assumption:
This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical.
Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Fuhrer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who singlehandedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.Kagan's sophomoric argument is Trump is a strongman and you know who else was a strongman? Hitler. Therefore, all strongman leaders are Hitler.
But you know who else was a strongman leader with no particular ideology or party affiliation?
So what is the test that protects us from fascism?
Actions, not words. When a mob led by the terrorist Bill Ayers threatened to riot if Trump spoke to a rally in Chicago, what did Trump do?
Did he unleash armed thugs to beat the living daylights of Ayers and company?
Trump canceled the event.
Now for the kicker: Kagan who preaches party loyalty just changed his registration to independent.