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Few events in American political history have inspired more fear, dismay and anxiety than the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president. Never since the 19th century have so many Americans (and non-Americans too) regarded the outcome of a presidential election as illegitimate, or viewed the successful candidate as morally or intellectually unfit to hold the office.
Thomas Mulcair, the leader of Canada’s NDP, has even called Trump a fascist, a label that is unsuitable for several reasons. Fascism was a movement of young men (Mussolini took power at 39, Hitler at 43) who rose from obscurity in the aftermath of a world war, who founded new parties and whose followers dressed up in coloured shirts and fought brawls in the streets against communists and socialists. In countries with many Jews it was anti-Semitic. Its foreign policy was based on territorial expansion and imperialism; fascists claimed that their country needed more space to accommodate its population.
Trump, by contrast, is an elderly millionaire who became the presidential candidate of a long-established party. His followers don’t wear uniforms or fight brawls in the streets. His favourite daughter married a Jew (who is an important adviser to the President) and is herself a convert to Judaism. Trump’s foreign policy promises were isolationist rather than expansionist (although in practice his foreign policy has not been as radical a break with the past as some people expected), and his vast country has plenty of room for a population that is growing rather slowly.
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