Social Work should help create a united front against rising American fascism

It becomes more clear every day that really bad things are going on in the American body politic. Even Joe Biden seems to get it, at last. After a year of silence on the Trump insurrection, punctuated by frequent encomiums to virtues of “bipartisan” governance, Biden’s January 6th address called out Trump (albeit not by name) as the perpetrator of a violent insurrection, the one “holding a dagger to the throat of American democracy,” and the entire Republican Party as the former guy’s enabling authoritarian force.

Much more could, and should, be said. The Republican Party is not simply authoritarian “leaning,” not simply a personality cult entranced by a bloviating pathological narcissist; it increasingly displays the markings of a full-blown fascist movement bent on gaining power at any cost. It denies transparent fact and reality and prodigiously spews falsehoods and perfidious narratives. It cynically champions “law and order” while desecrating the actual rule of law. It extols violence as “patriotic,” and shelters extremist elements in its ranks (the more extremist, the better, it seems). It scapegoats and red-baits dissidents and those protesting egregious social and racial injustices. It decries electoral “fraud” as it races to rig the next elections in its favor forever. It genuflects before the Supreme Leader Trump.

Fascism is no stranger to American soil, and the fascists are very much on the move again. January 6, 2021 was indeed a failed coup, but the coup efforts continue, not merely unabated, but super-charged. Time is running out to mount an effective response to stop the fascist bid for power. I’m damned if I understand Attorney General Garland’s reluctance to issue indictments of the January 6th insurrection leadership, including Trump himself, or the Democratic Party’s seeming total reliance on the voters to “wake up” on their own, sans Party leadership, to the anti-democratic horror that’s descending on us – and that will certainly become far worse should their efforts to topple what remains of liberal democratic norms and institutions succeed.

Needed now is not leadership from the weakening Democratic Party. Needed now is something far more ambitious – a broad-based popular front against the fascist ascent, regardless of ideological differences among its constituent elements. Social workers should form one of those elements, should help build such a popular front before it is too late, and we’re left scratching our heads and mumbling among ourselves, “how could that ever happen here?”

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