False Accusations of "Fascism" at Democrats, Like Those Biden Faces, are Nothing NewRoundup
tags: conservatism, Glenn Beck, fascism, media, Franklin Roosevelt
Jon Marshall is an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School and the author of Clash: Presidents and the Press in Times of Crisis (Potomac Books, 2022).
According to right-wing commentator Glenn Beck, President Biden is a fascist.
In his latest book, Beck and co-author Justin Haskins warn that Biden is aligned with “a cabal of international elites” plotting to create “a new kind of fascism” that resembles “Nazi-era controls on businesses in Germany.” How is Biden promoting this takeover? As far as Beck and Haskins are concerned, it’s through his Build Back Better economic plan, efforts to combat climate change, and coronavirus mask and vaccine mandates.
This alleged plot would probably surprise Biden, whose support for labor unions, increased corporate taxes and a higher minimum wage are widely opposed by the very same bankers and big businesses that Beck and Haskins assert are backing the fascist scheme.
But even if Beck’s claims don’t make sense, his reach is expansive. The former Fox News host has the sixth-most-popular talk radio show in the country, with more than 8 million weekly listeners, and 13 of his books have reached No. 1 on bestseller lists.
Equally important, Beck is tapping into a deep historical vein of conservative thinking. Right-wing media used remarkably similar — and sometimes even harsher — rhetoric against Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. Conservative commentators frequently compared Roosevelt to the tyrannical Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin, who were terrorizing their countries and menacing the world during his presidency. Since then, conservative media has repeated the same refrain against other Democratic presidents, and sometimes Republicans, too, to argue against government involvement in the economy. But these accusations of fascism wildly exaggerate the actual policies getting pushed and may do more to promote fascism than the presidents they decry.
When Roosevelt took office in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, he and Congress quickly got to work passing his ambitious New Deal program to combat soaring unemployment, bank closures and widespread hunger. The federal government expanded in ways never seen before with the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Civilian Conservation Corps, Public Works Administration and scores of other initiatives.