Thirteen Ways the Trump/Pence Fascists Have Moved to Tighten Their Grip in Just the Last Month



The actions of the Trump/Pence regime, and the fascist forces associated with it on the state level, have been moving forward of late with the force of a juggernaut. As the two-paragraph definition of fascism accompanying this article points out, “while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, ‘conversion,’ prison, or execution.”

The 13 points below make clear that we may be living through a stage of rapid fascist advance. These should ring out with the urgency of an alarm summoning people to put out a raging fire.

One: Assaulting checks and balances and the rule of law to centralize unchecked power in Trump’s hands. Trump is continuing a massive purge of the government of the witnesses and whistleblowers who exposed the illegal actions that led to his impeachment, including most recently the firing of Michael Atkinson. Atkinson was the inspector general for the intelligence community who forwarded the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.

The firing of Atkinson was part of an overall attack on inspectors general. The role of these inspectors general is to expose fraud, misconduct, and illegal actions, and to do this they have had a certain degree of independence from the executive branch. Trump has now also sidelined the inspector general designated to oversee the just passed $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. In his place, Trump appointed White House lawyer and loyalist Brian Miller as special inspector general for pandemic recovery. In a statement made on signing the overall bill, Trump added as a “signing statement” that he wouldn’t agree to provisions in the bill for congressional oversight. This means that Trump could use the money appropriated to strengthen those in the fascist camp and weaken those who oppose the regime. Trump also fired Glenn Fine, the lead watchdog overseeing a panel of inspectors general who are in turn overseeing the overall stimulus package.1

On April 6, Trump condemned another inspector general for a report that described in graphic detail the equipment shortages U.S. hospitals are facing. It said medical workers were “trying to make their own disinfectant from in-house chemicals, running low on toilet paper and food, and trying to source face masks from nail salons.” The report’s conclusions were drawn from direct interviews with health care professionals at “323 hospitals across 46 States” and territories currently attempting to contain the outbreak, but Trump declared they were “just wrong” and said the report was “another fake dossier.” He also attacked the integrity of the inspector general, claiming that she was an “Obama appointee”—when in fact she has worked in the three administrations before Trump, which included George W. Bush, a Republican.2

Two: Voter suppression and election rigging aimed at locking in minority Republican rule in perpetuity, including in the upcoming presidential election.* Primary elections had been scheduled in Wisconsin for April 7. As the government has increasingly come to recognize the virulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, most states have postponed previously scheduled elections. But Wisconsin acted differently—and how this happened poses great dangers for the integrity of the elections process. (*Assuming the 2020 election actually happens.)

The week before the election, when it was clear that in-person voting would be unsafe given the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic governor Tony Evers called a legislative session to propose going to all-mail balloting or postponing the election until June. The Republican majority, which has a long track record of blatant gerrymandering and voter suppression, gaveled the session closed before it even started. Evers then took the issue to court and on April 2, District Court Judge William Conley refused to postpone the election but did order extra time for people to cast ballots by mail—they didn’t have to be postmarked by April 7—because there had been an “avalanche” of last-minute requests for them due to the pandemic. The U.S. Court of Appeals then denied a Republican request to stay (block) Conley’s ruling, so the Republicans urgently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, April 6, as electoral chaos loomed, Governor Evers issued an executive order postponing the election until June so the state could implement universal vote-by-mail. But this was quickly overturned by the Republican-dominated majority of the state’s Supreme Court. Then, Monday night, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in, overturning Judge Conley’s order allowing mail-in ballots to be postmarked after election day. This last-minute intervention upended “the common-sense solution that a federal judge had devised with the support of the officials who actually had to carry out the election,” wrote Linda Greenhouse, who called the decision worse than the Bush v. Gore decision of 2000 that halted the vote count and gave that election to George W. Bush.3

As pictures from Wisconsin showed, the Supreme Court’s action forced people who wanted to vote to do so in person, often waiting hours in long lines, especially in the major cities, where many polling stations were shut down. In Milwaukee, only 5 out of 180 stations were open. People who wanted to vote were forced to risk infection, even with the best efforts to do safe practices. Many who were fearful, ill, older, or had health conditions likely stayed home.

In-person voting during this pandemic is especially threatening for Black people. The state’s Black population, concentrated in Milwaukee and other larger cities, is being disproportionately impacted—they make up 40 percent of the coronavirus deaths recorded in the state, even though they make up only seven percent of the population.4

Other efforts to suppress voting, including by shutting down polling stations and requiring new forms of photo ID, have taken place in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina (along with the continued impact of gerrymandering). All this signals the fascist forces’ determination to remain in power by any means necessary, including Supreme Court intervention, massive voter suppression, and other dirty tricks—perhaps “justified” by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump has vociferously opposed voting by mail, blurting out: If early voting and voting by mail is expanded, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”5

Three: Declaring a “State of Emergency,” laying the groundwork to greatly expand unchecked executive power. On March 13, Donald Trump declared that the “COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency,” crowing, “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.” The scope of these powers is a closely guarded secret, but according to Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle writing in the New York Times, actions previous emergency action documents may have authorized include “suspension of habeas corpus by the president (not by Congress, as assigned in the Constitution), detention of United States citizens who are suspected of being ‘subversives,’ warrantless searches and seizures and the imposition of martial law.”6

Four: Gutting environmental regulations, accelerating capitalism’s plunder of the earth. In late March, Trump rolled back auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards, “virtually undoing the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change,” according to the New York Times. If enacted, this “would allow cars on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would have under the Obama standards and hundreds of millions of tons more than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia.” This is the latest in “a three-year effort to weaken or undo nearly 100 rules and regulations that had limited industrial pollution of smog, toxic chemicals, greenhouse gases and water contaminants.”7

Five: Ongoing attacks on health insurance, safety-net programs, and unions. As the coronavirus has hit the poor and most oppressed hardest, the Trump/Pence regime is pushing ahead with its efforts to toughen up rules for who is eligible for food stamps—moves that could lead to some 700,000 people losing their benefits. It is also continuing its assault on health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”), which covers millions of people who formerly did not have any health insurance. This includes pursuing a Supreme Court case to gut the ACA altogether. On March 31, the White House announced that federal exchanges for ACA, which closed in December at the end of the enrollment period, will not be reopened for uninsured people to get health care coverage during the pandemic.8

Meanwhile, the Federal Labor Relations Authority issued a little-noticed, anti-union rule making it easier for federal workers to stop the withholding of union dues, claiming this would increase wages during this economic crisis.9

Six: Using the pandemic as an excuse to ban abortions. Across the country, physicians and hospitals have been forced to cancel or postpone elective or non-essential procedures to conserve scarce health care resources, including personal protective equipment, and to limit patients’ exposure to the virus. But Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas, all run by pro-Trump Republicans, have seized upon the crisis to attempt to ban abortion by designating it “non-essential”—even though it is one of the most essential, fundamental rights women have and is not “elective” in the sense it can be put off. This is part of the fascist war on women and an attempt to impose unchecked patriarchal male authority. These bans have been challenged by pro-choice groups and at this writing, federal courts have so far allowed abortions to continue in Alabama, Ohio, and Oklahoma, and an agreement was reached in Iowa between the state and the ACLU to allow women to obtain “essential” surgical abortions. However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Texas’ ban during the pandemic.10

Seven: Covering up the extent of damage being done in Black, Latino, Native American Indian, and other oppressed communities hit hardest by pandemic due to white supremacy. This deadly disproportionate impact cannot be fought if it’s hidden, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has so far refused to carry out its normal procedure of publishing data on race and COVID-19, nor has it required such data to be collected from the states, or mandated special aid and assistance. This risks many more lives of a whole section of people who are already at a great health disadvantage because of the white supremacist system.11

Eight: Opposing release of prisoners and detainees trapped in potential death camps. Trump has declared that he opposes, and will even try to stop, the accelerated release of prisoners due to coronavirus concerns. There are 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S., crowded together under precarious health conditions and without any possibility of social distancing and other preventive measures. Trump has potentially issued a death sentence for thousands of these prisoners.12

Nine: Blocking asylum and accelerating deportations. On March 20, Trump declared that all migrants approaching the U.S. border will be immediately turned back, or sent back if they have already crossed, claiming they spread disease. There will not be even a pretense that asylum claims will be considered. U.S. officials claimed that this would not apply to children—but there were news reports that “unaccompanied minors” were being refused entry. This means thousands of desperate people are being forced back to Central America—to conditions of widespread violence and crushing poverty that they were trying to flee; or to stay in crowded refugee camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.13

“For the past three weeks, virtually every category of migrant without papers has been turned back at legal ports of entry along the southern border or expelled immediately upon apprehension by border agents; 10,000 have been thrown out so far in the crisis,” the Washington Post reports. “They include minors who may have been trafficked and asylum seekers, individually or in families, who may face persecution in their home countries. Immigration courts are suspended, deportation procedures have been ditched, and due process is a thing of the past.”14

ICE claimed in March it would seek alternatives to detention and only make arrests that were “mission-sensitive,” but the very next day announced it would “continue to prioritize arresting and removing criminal aliens and other aliens who pose a threat to public safety, just as it always has during President @realDonaldTrump’s administration.”15 (Emphasis added.)

Ten: Promoting fascist ultra-chauvinism, white supremacy, and “America First” poison, enflaming international tensions and racism, at a time when global cooperation is a life-and-death need. Trump has bragged about closing borders, and until recently, he insisted on referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese flu,” repeatedly defending his use of this scientifically ignorant term (viruses have no “nationality,” and COVID-19 is not a “flu”). This has fed into a climate of anti-Asian racism and stoked physical attacks on Chinese and other people of Asian descent. The regime has refused to deploy medical experts and assistance to hotspots around the world, and Trump has lied about, attacked, and threatened to cut funding for the World Health Organization, thereby contributing to deaths around the world. The Trump/Pence regime has fostered dog-eat-dog competition for life-and-death medical supplies with other countries, even offering $1 billion to a German pharmaceutical company for rights to a COVID-19 vaccine that they were developing. The agreement would be exclusive—in other words, “only for the United States.” Worst of all, the regime has continued to wage economic warfare against Iran in the form of “economic sanctions,” which has effectively meant the denial of desperately needed drugs and medicine to the people there.16

Eleven: Turning pandemic briefings into platforms for Trump fascism. These briefings—full of lies, bullying, attacks on the press and more—are not simply efforts to cover Trump’s ass, re-election publicity stunts, or ego-driven showing off. They are deadly serious and deadly elements of the regime’s drive to deceive people, excuse away murderous actions and inactions, demonize opposition from within the ruling class itself, and consolidate fascism. Recently the regime told CNN that Drs. Fauci and Blix could not appear unless CNN broadcast Trump’s daily rants.17

Twelve: Embodying the message that all power rests in the great Führer Trump’s hands. “The president reportedly wants to have his own signature on stimulus checks to Americans, which may also run afoul of law.” (Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in an April 6 New York Times op-ed.)18

Thirteen: Ominous moves by Attorney General Barr to possibly use the coronavirus epidemic to curtail basic rights. As we covered last week, proposals from the Department of Justice would enable federal judges to “pause” court proceedings involving “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings.” As the article states, “These proposals have been met with alarm by various defense lawyers and civil rights attorneys, raising concern that such measures could seriously erode defendants’ rights to a speedy trial. In short, what is involved here is a plan that could be used to imprison people indefinitely, without any legal recourse.”19

The message is clear: not only does this regime pose an immediate danger to humanity, far from slowing down its pace of fascization during the pandemic it is actually speeding it up.


1. Trump Proceeds With Post-Impeachment Purge Amid Pandemic, New York Times, April 4, 2020; Trump removes independent watchdog for coronavirus funds, upending oversight panel, Politico, April 7, 2020.  [back]

2. The Coronavirus Has Not Halted Trump’s Power Grab, The Atlantic, April 8, 2020.  [back]

3. Linda Greenhouse, The Supreme Court Fails Us, New York Times, April 9, 2020; Jamelle Bouie, Trump Wants 50 Wisconsins on Election Day - The G.O.P. has turned voting in person into a death threat, New York Times, April 10; See also, Paul Krugman, “American Democracy May Be Dying, New York Times, April 9, 2020.  [back]

4. Why Wisconsin Republicans Insisted on an Election in a Pandemic, New York Times, April 8, 2020.  [back]

5. Why Republicans Are So Afraid of Vote-by-Mail, New York Times, April 8, 2020.  [back]

6. Trump Has Emergency Powers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About, New York Times, April 10, 2020.  [back]

7. U.S. to Announce Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules, a Key Effort to Fight Climate Change, New York Times, March 31, 2020.  [back]

8.  Blood on Their Hands: Ten Things Trump and His Regime Have Done and Said That Are Making the Coronavirus Pandemic Even Deadlier,, April 6, 2020.  [back]

9. Under the Virus’s Cloak, Trump Pursues Long-Sought Policies, New York Times, March 20, 2020.  [back]

10. No halt to culture wars during coronavirus outbreak, Associated Press, April 9, 2020; Every State That’s Tried to Ban Abortion Over the Coronavirus,, April 7, 2020.  [back]

11. Savage Oppression of Black People Showing up in Disproportionate Coronavirus Deaths,, April 7, 2020: “Data on race and zip code of people with COVID-19 must immediately be collected and released by all health departments, rapid testing must be available to everyone, and emergency responses must be aimed at the hardest-hit communities.”  [back]

12. Blood on Their Hands: Ten Things Trump and His Regime Have Done and Said That Are Making the Coronavirus Pandemic Even Deadlier,, April 6, 2020.  [back]

13.  Communique #3 from the Revcoms: The Coronavirus and the Attacks on Immigrants: We Need a Revolution!, March 23, 2020.  [back]

14. “Trump uses the pandemic to overturn decades of U.S. asylum law and rules,” Washington Post, April 12, 2020.  [back]

15. Immigration chief on thin ice for adopting Obama’s stance during crisis, Politico, March 26, 2020.  [back]

16. Blood on Their Hands: Ten Things Trump and His Regime Have Done and Said That Are Making the Coronavirus Pandemic Even Deadlier,, April 6, 2020; Medical Terrorism – American Style: U.S. Sanctions & Military Threats Escalate Iran’s COVID-19 Death Toll and Threaten the World,, April 6, 2020.  [back]

17. White House reverses position after blocking health officials from appearing on CNN, CNN, April 10, 2020.  [back]

18. Noah Bookbinder, Trump Is Gutting Our Democracy While We’re Dealing With Coronavirus, New York Times, April 6, 2020.  [back]

19. Trump’s Department of ‘Justice’ Proposes New Repressive Measures,, April 6, 2020.  [back]

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The Trump/Pence regime has fostered dog-eat-dog competition for life-and-death medical supplies with other countries... With a shortage of protective gear, nurses at Elmhurst Hospital wear trash bags for protection. (Photo: NYPost video screengrab)

People line up to vote at Riverside High School during the primary in Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Voters lined up to cast ballots across Wisconsin on Tuesday, ignoring a stay-at-home order in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to participate in the state's presidential primary election. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

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2.3 million people are incarcerated in the U.S., crowded under precarious health conditions and with no possibility of social distancing or preventive measures. Trump has potentially issued a death sentence for thousands of these prisoners. Here, prisoners in close quarters at Alabama's Easterling Correctional Facility, February 25, 2020. (Photo: Alabama Department of Corrections)

On March 20, Trump declared that all migrants approaching the U.S. border will be immediately turned back, or sent back if they have already crossed, claiming they spread disease. Immigrants from Mexico seeking asylum are turned back at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo: AP)




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