Breaking news: Trump WILL be on the debate stage Wednesday night
Whether Trump is physically present on stage at the Republican debate, the fascist ideas and policies he stands for will be well-represented by the other candidates, who reflect a Republican Party totally taken over by its far-right faction. | AP photos

Trump does not have to physically show up at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night to be well-represented on that platform. Each and every one of the candidates who will be there stands for essentially the same fascistic and criminal policies promoted by the ex-president, almost making irrelevant the question of whether or not he physically stands on the platform with them.

Like infamous fascists throughout history, including both those of the past like Hitler and Mussolini and those of today like Hungary’s Victor Orban, Trump said yesterday, “I don’t do debates.” Fascist “supermen” consider appearing on a stage with “Untermenschen,” people allegedly inferior to them, as kowtowing to democracy and manifestations of it, including political debates.

Trump, of course, has always found it personally difficult to pass up an audience, so some say he may yet show up this week or for future debates. The reality, of course, is that he and his policies will be present on that stage regardless of whether he himself is standing behind a podium.

The candidates who have qualified for the debate give varying if not total support for lying, for corruption, for election denial, for attacks on democracy, for restrictions on voting rights, for removing the right of choice from the nation’s women, and for, in short, the same fascistic policies pursued by Trump when he was president and backed by him now as he faces 91 criminal indictments.

Even those who, like Chris Christie, are described in the media as “challenging Trump,” have to answer the question of where they have been for at least the past seven years. Only now do they allegedly “challenge” him. They have been dead to the issues that the American people face for many years, and they emerge only now to try to pose as alternatives. The truth is that on almost all the critical issues facing the nation, they agree with Trump.

Some, like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, actually call for killing immigrants right at the border before they have the chance to enter the country. He goes further than Trump did when he rode down the escalator in his first presidential campaign, describing Mexicans as “rapists” and “murderers.”

Agree with Trump

On all the other key issues, DeSantis agrees with Trump, so why would the fascistic Republican base bother with him or with any of the others when they can get the “real thing”—Donald Trump himself?

Support for Trump among the right-wing Republican base brings to mind scary parallels with Nazi Germany, as some 70% of Trump supporters in the GOP say they trust him more than they trust their own relatives. Germans often said the same thing about Adolf Hitler.

What that reflects, however, is a long history of support for fascist ideas, including and especially racism and attacks on democracy in the U.S. When Trump came along, he was giving voice to dangerous political and social ideas long embedded in American society and long fomented by ruling class interests in the country. Trump latched onto and brought forward the worst impulses in American history, and none of the GOP candidates are challenging any of this.

None of them have been willing to say that their Republican Party, which has been captured by the fascists, and our country have to take an entirely different direction, one that champions democracy, equality, and worker rights. Since they are totally unwilling to do any of that, it must be said that Trump indeed will be present on the debate stage. He will be present by virtue of the fact that they are all MAGA fascists.

He has always worked by giving voice to the fascists in America. In Charlottesville, when the fascists marched and shouted that “Jews will not replace us” and then killed a civil rights demonstrator, they probably never dreamed that they would get open verbal support from the president of the United States. Yet the next day, he described the neo-Nazis as “very fine people.”

The media often likes to describe Trump and some of his top acolytes as “clowns,” portraying them as comedic characters who are really too stupid or funny to take over a country like the U.S. This is a dangerous idea. Even Rudy Giuliani, with hair dye running down his face, is far more than the bungling fool he is alleged to be by some in the media.

Trump and Giuliani are dangerous racists and criminals, as shown in the indictments, who led a conspiracy that nearly destroyed democracy entirely in the country.

Like the infamous fascists of history, they were able to convince 50 or 60 million people, in a matter of only a few years, that the 2020 election was stolen. And they did this without a single-party-controlled press. They did this, like the Nazis did in Germany, in a supposedly pluralistic society like the Weimar Republic. They did it because, like all effective fascists, they knew how to tap into the worst impulses of the American public. The history of racism in America laid the groundwork for the horrors we see unfolding and the attacks on all workers and their allies today.

The lawlessness that was slavery and, later, mass lynching and Jim Crow underlie the infection today of the entire GOP with the fascist virus.

So, the debate this Wednesday will not just be the jockeying of different candidates trying to get second place in the GOP primaries or trying to line themselves up for cabinet posts in a future, God forbid, second Trump administration. It will be a reflection instead of how the MAGA fascists have taken over the entire Republican Party.

For those in the GOP base who don’t tune in to the debate, Trump has ensured that there will be an alternative that feeds them the same racist and fascistic ideas. He will appear on X, the former Twitter, controlled by Elon Musk, with the white supremacist Tucker Carlson. So, no matter where the GOP base goes on Wednesday night, they will see and hear Trumpism and fascism.

It is sad because rather than hearing at the debate from politicians who offer support for what the people really need in exchange for their votes, Americans will hear from people who essentially endorse corruption, lies, and attacks on democracy. They will be hearing from candidates who were cowards for many years, offering no opposition to these crimes when they knew better.

The media moguls pat themselves on the back for exposing ridiculous instructions that DeSantis got this week from his Political Action Committee, telling him to back Trump and “slam” Vivek Ramaswamy, concentrating fire on his second-place competitor instead.

Those who have power over the press would better serve the American people by exposing the depths to which MAGA fascism has infected all the GOP candidates and pointing out that the only solution to the danger facing the nation is turning out a huge multiracial coalition to defeat all the Republicans, top to bottom, in the 2024 elections.

But they won’t, of course. That’s why People’s World must do so in its pages, which we will do again and again, from now until Election Day.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.