Since fascism is the political topic of the day — well, of the century — it’s important to ask specifically what is fascism. Many go with “I know it when I see it” but unless the bad guys actually wear swastikas there’s a lot of grey that people debate — Black Lives Matter, Breitbart, violent Berkeley demonstrators.
So what is fascism? Well, first, Mussolini and Hitler were very different; Mussolini wasn’t nearly so interested in Jews, for example. So zeroing in on Hitlerism as the evilest of all, what exactly is Hitlerism? Well, we can go to the source: Hitler’s original 1920 platform, the 25 specific reforms proposed at the founding of the National Socialist party.
Of these 25 reforms, 7 involve granting racial privileges to Germans, 17 involve increases in state power, and one (Germanic customary law) is hard for me to categorize. The 10 that are specifically economic are all standard radical socialist: seize dividend and capital income; confiscation of conglomerates, large stores, and large farms; free college, free health-care, and higher state pensions; all must work.
Not a single Hitler reform is free-market or capitalist (“capitalist” meaning private control and profit from productive resources). Incidentally, #24 is relevant to today’s “fake news” debate: Hitler wanted to prosecute any media “who propagate deliberate political lies.”
Good. So now we have a concrete list. Meaning we can go through the main 2016 candidates, Bernie, Hillary, and Trump, and see how many boxes they tick.
On most of Hitler’s issues all three have no opinion — war reparations, colonies, and Germanic customary laws simply aren’t topical.
Of the rest, there are 8 where today’s candidates have opinions. Of these, there’s one issue where Trump is closer to Hitler, one where he and Hillary are both closer to Hitler, and 6 where both Bernie and Hillary are closer to Hitler. So, off-hand, Trump is by far the least Hitler of the three, Hillary the most, and Bernie in-between.
Let’s drill-down. Trump’s one failure is that, while Hitler wanted to ban all immigration (#8), Trump clearly wants to limit it. The one issue where both Trump and Hillary fail is death to traitors (#18) — both Trump and Hillary have favored prosecuting Snowden, but Bernie has not.
Then there’s the 6 areas where both Hillary and Bernie are closer to Hitler than Trump: state welfare (#7); state taking unearned income (#11); increased profit-sharing in large industries (#14); increase in state pensions (#15); free college for the poor (#20); free maternity care (#21); prosecute fake news (#23). I can’t say whether Bernie might pick up a few more issues that he avoids for public opinion, such as nationalization of conglomerates (#13), nationalization of large stores (#16), and seizing large farms (#17).
So, assigning a “Hitler score” of one point if the candidate is closer to Hitler, and minus one if the candidate is further from Hitler, Trump has a Hitler score of -5 (+1 on immigration, +1 on death-to-traitors, -1 on welfare, -1 on unearned income, -1 on profit-sharing, -1 on pensions, -1 on free college, -1 on free maternity, -1 on prosecuting “fake news”).
Hillary, meanwhile, scores +7 (-1 on immigration, +1 on death-to-traitors, +1 on welfare, +1 on unearned income, +1 on profit-sharing, +1 on pensions, +1 on free college, +1 on free maternity, +1 on prosecuting “fake news”).
As for Bernie, he differs with Hillary only on death-to-traitors, yielding a +6. Granted, if Bernie actually likes nationalization but avoids talking about it, then he’d pick up another 3 points and have a closet Hitler score of +9.
Bottom line, by this score Trump is by far the least Hitler. And Hillary is the most Hitler — on paper — though I suspect Bernie is the most Hitler in reality. By the way, I’m trying to score somewhat conventionally; for example, you could argue that state-sponsored racism (“affirmative action”) is Hitlerian, in which case Bernie and Hillary’s scores are even worse.
Now, to me this is a mental exercise, not a definitive score. Personally, I’d argue that starting with FDR all major US candidates are essentially fascist. Still, the point here is that if we’re worried that Hitler loved immigration restrictions, it’s only fair to also worry that state welfare, free college, and punishing “fake news” are also things Hitler loved. Either denounce all of Hitlerism, or frankly admit if you like some of Hitler but not the rest.