Trump’s evocation of racist tropes is not Nazism, exactly. It is better described as Nazi-adjacent. He has activated and energized open white supremacists, who for the first time in decades have been given a president who reflects their values closely enough to inspire open defense. — Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
Trump’s evocation of racist tropes is not Nazism, exactly. It is better described as Nazi-adjacent. He has activated and energized open white supremacists, who for the first time in decades have been given a president who reflects their values closely enough to inspire open defense. — Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
How Trump Brought Nazis Into Republican Politics
... Trump has retweeted enough decontextualized, random videos of nonwhite people attacking white people — indeed, he shared the same 2019 subway attack clip in June — that it has lost its shock value. But it is this very banality that makes Trump’s behavior so significant. The president is in the habit of promoting a wide array of his supporters, and we all have grown accustomed to the fact that some of those supporters are, well, Nazis.

... Is Trump a Nazi? Not exactly. He does embrace a certain fascist aesthetic elevating strength over all other values. He reportedly asked for his inauguration to include a military parade — “I want tanks and choppers. Make it look like North Korea” — citing the world’s most totalitarian state as his visual model. He often speaks as though he’s Dwight Schrute being tricked into reading bits from a Mussolini speech:

The only way you will stop the violence in the high crime Democrat run cities is through strength! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2020

But Trump’s evocation of racist tropes is not Nazism, exactly. It is better described as Nazi-adjacent. He has activated and energized open white supremacists, who for the first time in decades have been given a president who reflects their values closely enough to inspire open defense. If you peruse Nazi propaganda sites, they contain defenses of Trump on such matters like the Russia scandal, and — when excised of references to Jews — read pretty much the same as the polemics found in normal conservative publications like the Federalist, Breitbart, and so on.

Where Nazis were once treated by both parties as an unambiguous source of pure evil, now they inhabit a gray area on the fringe of the Republican coalition. His now-infamous description of “Unite the Right” Nazi protesters as “very fine people” was not a flub or a one-off. Trump would never come out and praise Hitler, but he will stoke their race-war dreams. They are marginal members of the coalition, to be handled delicately.


Many Trump critics have reacted to this development with pure hysteria, which is a perfectly understandable response, given the history. We should be careful not to overstate the situation. The United States is not headed into world war and industrialized murder factories. But Trump has changed the orientation of the political landscape in ways that include creating a new opening for the far right.

He is calling armed men into the streets. There are pickup trucks bearing Trump fans itching for blood. One of his delusional idolaters brought a rifle to Kenosha and blundered into a bloodbath.