Many Never Trump conservatives have been arguing that if former President Donald Trump returns to the White House and successfully carries out his authoritarian agenda, it will be terrible from a capitalist standpoint. Free-market capitalism, they argue, thrives in a free and open society, while dictatorships stifle economic growth.
But in an opinion column published by The Guardian on November 21, progressive economist Robert Reich warns that Trump is “going full fascist” with “the backing of prominent billionaires.”
“Earlier this month, on Veterans Day,” Reich observes, “Trump pledged to ‘root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,’ whom he accused of doing anything ‘to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream.’ Notably, he read these words from a teleprompter, meaning that they were intentional rather than part of another impromptu Trump rant. Days before, Trump claimed that undocumented immigrants were ‘poisoning the blood of our country’…. Trump has publicly vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to ‘go after’ Joe Biden and his family, and has told advisers and friends that he wants the Justice Department to investigate officials who have criticized his time in office. This is, quite simply, full-throated neofascism.”
The economist continues, “Who’s bankrolling all this? While Trump’s base is making small contributions, the big money is coming from some of the richest people in the U.S.”
Reich notes some of the billionaires who have made large contributions to Trump’s 2024 campaign or Trump-associated PACs, including casino owner Phil Ruffin and New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson.
“Democracy is compatible with capitalism only if democracy is in the driver’s seat, so it can rein in capitalism’s excesses,” Reich explains. “But if capitalism and its moneyed interests are in charge, those excesses inevitably grow to the point where they are able to extinguish democracy and ride roughshod over the common good. That’s why Trump’s neo-fascism — and the complicity of today’s Republican Party with it — are attracting the backing of some of the richest people in the U.S.”
Robert Reich’s full opinion column for The Guardian is available at this link.