Cleveland—Former New Hampshire US Senator Gordon Humphrey had some strong words for the supporters of Donald Trump who have repeatedly blocked efforts to open up the debate—about the nominating process and their controversial candidate—at this week’s Republican National Convention.
“I sought to be recognized to raise a point of parliamentary inquiry and was immediately drowned out by people I would refer to as brownshirts,” said Humphrey, who is a member of the New Hampshire delegation to the convention.
“This is pretty shocking and shameful. I’ve seen a lot, but this is not a meeting of the Republican National Committee. This is a meeting of brownshirts,” continued the veteran conservative, who, The Boston Globe noted, was “likening the GOP convention leaders to the paramilitary wing of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party.”
Humphrey’s comments created an embarrassing stir after he made them in an interview with MSNBC.
As Republicans attempt to “turn the page” on a divisive primary campaign and focus on Trump’s fall presidential bid, they do not need their nominee’s name to be associated with European extremists of the past, or of the present. Yet references to Trump as a “neo-fascist,” and to his campaign as an American expression of contemporary European far-right extremism, keep coming up.
Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who exposed the excesses of Richard Nixon, refers to Trump as “a neo-fascist in the sense of his appeal and methodology that has to do with authoritarianism nativism and [the] incitement which we’re seeing now.” Trump’s campaign, argues Bernstein, has invited “a debate, a historical debate about what fascism was and is and how Donald Trump fits into that picture”—a debate that the author suggests could include a discussion of “authoritarianism,” “despotism,” and “the desire for a strong man who doesn’t trust the institutions of democracy and government.”
Writing on Trump’s candidacy, The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos observed almost a year ago that
When Trump leaped to the head of the Republican field, he delivered the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe, elevating fantasies from the message boards and campgrounds to the center stage of American life. In doing so, he pulled America into a current that is coursing through other Western democracies—Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Scandinavia—where xenophobic, nationalist parties have emerged since the 2008 economic crisis to besiege middle-ground politicians. In country after country, voters beset by inequality and scarcity have reached past the sober promises of the center-left and the center-right to the spectre of a transcendent solution, no matter how cruel.