President Biden's September 1 speech on the political threats posed to our democracy by the language and actions of far-right GOP leaders and elected officials was entirely on the mark. As scholars of the history of fascism have noted, many of the characteristics of fascism are indeed currently present in GOP language and goals. The cries of outrage demanding apology from these very same politicians are entirely mendacious.
New School historian Federico Finchelstein has written extensively on the history and social reality of fascism. Especially interesting in our contemporary context is his Brief History of Fascist Lies. Here is how Finchelstein formulated the concept of fascism in the Washington Post following Biden's speech:What is fascism? In historical terms, it was an ultranationalist, anti-liberal and anti-Marxist politics. Its primary aim was to destroy democracy from within to create a modern dictatorship from above. The state silenced the basic tenets of civil society, while eliminating the distinctions between the public and the private — or between the state and its citizens. Fascist regimes shut down the independent press and destroyed the rule of law.
The far right has manufactured faceless and fictional enemies to wage war against -- government officials in particular -- which is really a rejection of the idea that government has an entirely appropriate function in regulating industry and securing the common good. And under cover of that set of fictions, they are actually working aggressively to intimidate voters, librarians, teachers, health-care workers, election officials, public health administrators, and advocates for anti-racism and police reform.
Critics of the American system from the left are certainly correct in saying that wealthy individuals and corporations wield vast power in our system -- witness the entirely one-sided tax policy changes that have occurred in the past decades, the weakening of regulatory regimes (FAA, NRC, OSHA, EPA), and the impunity with which billionaires move their wealth (and their yachts) to island enclaves beyond scrutiny of US taxes.
It's pretty laughable to assert that "socialists" and the radical-liberal left have created all kinds of new laws and policies oppressing other people; the left has been defeated on almost every issue (reduction of inequalities, gun safety legislation, strong and effective industrial regulation, taxes on the rich, reproductive rights, ...).
There are indeed dark forces pulling a lot of strings in our democracy: the NRA, the extremist anti-abortion movement, the effective power of corporations to secure their financial interests over the public good, the role of big money in elections (e.g. Barry Seide and the Marble Freedom Trust), and the increasingly strident voices of racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-muslim bigotry among GOP politicians. Progressive critics refer primarily to the third and fourth items on this list; and these factors remain potent today. But the "populist" extremists have gained an enormous amount of power that they are wielding against the clear majority of the US population.
It's a gloomy picture!