Eco says that Fascism has become an all-purpose term to describe pretty much any and every approach to politics. Reading Eco’s point of view on how Fascism can be reinterpreted and modified, I could see the fragments come together to form a picture depicting America.
The American Presidential Elections held in 2020 split the country in two, red on one side, and blue on the other. Biden’s and Trump’s political plans seem to have little to nothing in common, but what if they were two well masked Ur-Fascisms?
Trump’s campaign to the presidency was characterized by elitist, nationalist, and racist premises. The main slogan that can be associated with Trump is “Make America great again”. A claim of this caliber is a clear technique to practice elitism as individuals are drawn to join the party that aims to make them the people living in the best country in the world, and automatically, they would also assume the assumption to be the greatest citizens of such country to be true. By giving his followers this idea to identify with, he appealed to what what Eco describes to be the only privilege of people in a Ur-Fascism, which is to be born in the same country. It follows that such practice builds on the idea of nationalism, and ultimately encourages xenophobia. It is enough to mention the adamancy of the candidate to build a physical wall along the Mexican border with the guise of border control but with segregative undertones. Additionally, by doing so, he decided to appeal to the middle (in majority white) class and its frustration towards unemployment and wage crisis. A summary of his nationalist conviction can easily be found in his 2018 State of the Union Address in which states “As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve. As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.”
Similarly, Biden’s campaign was based on nationalism, populistic tendencies, and shifting international perspectives. Like Trump, Biden draw the majority of his political support from the middle and lower class and their frustration towards the extremist tendencies of his running opponent. He provided his followers with a political plan that would ultimately change the way the American country is perceived and organized. In doing so, Biden’s policy provided a nationalistic base to his candidacy, which was strengthened by the economical proposals stated in his 2023 State of the Union Address. Here, Biden says “to maintain the strongest economy in the world, we need the best infrastructure in the world” and also “folks, as you all know, we used to be number one in the world in infrastructure. We’ve sunk to 13th in the world. The United States of America — 13th in the world in infrastructure, modern infrastructure”. Both statements can be seen as a further proof of his nationalistic ideals, but also as an affront to the rest of the world. In his speech Biden makes good use of a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, which Eco identifies as one of the characteristics of Ur-Fascism. In fact, Biden often highlights the actual and potential greatness of America, but also, in statements like the one above, depicts the country as a weak international power. In doing so, he continuously defines the rest of the world (what Eco would identify as the enemies) as too strong or too weak.
It turns out that the American Presidential Elections of 2020 made American citizens choose between Ur-Fascism and Ur-Fascism, and America chose Ur-Fascism.
The referenced State of the Union Address can be found here: Trump – 2018 (https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-state-union-address/), Biden – 2023 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2023/).