It’s hard to imagine our current leaders speaking in this sort of language. The very idea of bringing war heroes to domestic power is anathema to them. President Obama ran on a promise to end our involvement in Middle East wars, and, in his Second Inaugural Address, boasted of fulfilling his pledge. Fascists don’t change the world by “leading from behind.” They take charge in front of the troops.
Nor is there much in the way of hypernationalism in our current crop of leaders. We’ve rarely had much in the way of traditional nationalism in America; we’re patriots, we celebrate the American dream, but we don’t believe in a unique “people” or “race,” destined to impose its will on the rest of the world.
No doubt there are American political activists who would like their side to totally dominate the country’s affairs, as we can hear in recent calls for Obama to “destroy” the Republican Party once and for all. But it is hard to imagine a mass movement in this country based on an open call for a totalitarian state.
Charismatic leaders are not unique to fascism, and we have had many political leaders, including Obama, who are inspirational orators and who produce crowd behavior — such as the “jumpers” who rallied to Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign — that is reminiscent of the fascist masses. But we are a long way from the cult of personality that dominated Italy and Germany in the fascist epoch.
Indeed, one feature of charismatic leadership seems common to all modern politics: the tendency of people to excuse the leader for the errors of his government. When things go badly, there’s a tendency for followers to say “if only our leader knew what was going on, he’d fix it.” So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see poll results that show the American people unhappy with Obama’s programs (they don’t like Obamacare, or higher taxes), but largely supportive of the man himself.
If you want examples of contemporary fascism, the easiest place to start is radical Islamists who openly call for totalitarian rule by men chosen by God, and invoke jihad in the “war against the infidel.” No wonder their predecessors in the 1920s and 1930s were inspired by Mussolini and Hitler. And no wonder they despise Obama, who they view as a weakling, a loser, and a pushover.