“We love you. You’re very special.” — Donald Trump, January 6, addressing the Nazis, White supremacists and others who killed one police officer and injured scores of others during the attempted coup he and his Republican enablers incited

Nate: Becca, I feel that as political observers, even though we nominally write about (or at least from) Rockland, we have to at least mention the extraordinary January 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol that was incited by Donald Trump. It was amazing and outrageous, and yet at the same time, I’m wary of being too U.S.-centric: On the spectrum of political violence, people in other parts of the world (Yemen, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and many others) have to deal with worse on a daily basis. What do you think?

Becca: As I’ve been processing it, I’ve thought about a lot of things. One is how, while the people in Congress wear suits and ties and sit neatly in their chairs, what makes us think them less harmful than the Viking-hat-and-fur-wearing, gun-and-spear-toting White supremacist Nazis who smashed into the Capitol building? The people in Congress approve policies of war on the poor domestically and globally; they oversee funding for the military to bomb countries such as Syria and Yemen, for the FBI to conduct domestic terrrorism on (mostly) left-leaning social, racial and environmental justice groups, for ICE and CBP to terrorize families, and, of course, for the CIA to oversee coups and install dictators.

I am not anti-insurrection, as a rule. There are times when people must rise up against tyrannical or corporate-shill governments. But when it comes down to it, watching a single human suffering catches in my heart; over and over I keep seeing the cop that the white supremacist mob squashed between doors, blood in his mouth, screaming.

Imagine supporting the (apparently mostly middle- and upper-class) insurrectionists on January 6: they are Nazis, White supremacists, QAnon acolytes, and/or people who believe the lies of Trump and his enablers, that the presidential election was stolen. Some may want to reinstate the slave-owning Confederacy, or, as with those wearing “Camp Auschwitz Staff” and similar shirts, murder all Jews.

I labeled Trump a fascist before he got into power. And look where the country is now. Millions of people, including our neighbors here in Maine, believe his lies so much that they still believe the election — but only the presidential election — was stolen.

Many people locally are wondering what they can do to stop fascism and White supremacy from escalating further. What do you know about fascism and what has been effective in stopping it or slowing it down?

Nate: Most of what I know of fascism comes from the history of Italy, Spain and Germany — and now, unfortunately, the recent history of the United States. I don’t think the historical examples are encouraging. I resisted explicitly calling Trump a fascist for a long time, in part because I’m generally cautious of invoking historical parallels that could be viewed as hyperbolic. But something shifted for me, I think over this past summer, and I realized that the parallel was justified. And the past weeks have confirmed it. I do wonder how many people in Rockland still support Trump. It’s a mark of our (or at least my) social segregation that I know relatively few such people, and regularly interact with even fewer.

Becca: I bet you know more Trump voters than you are aware of. Or Susan Collins voters, who still think she’s independent, though she has financially supported QAnon candidates in Maine, and according to a recent article in Mainer, “How Susan Collins Enabled Trump’s Fascist Insurrection,” she is a major donor to roughly half of the Republican senators who vowed to object to the certification of the presidential election. I would like to think we can do things to stop these lies and bigotry from rooting in our neighbors’ hearts. But if they think we are just brainwashed “libs,” connecting with them is not easy.

Nate: How can we reckon with these issues locally? I find myself thinking more and more in economic, or perhaps materialist, terms: If we do a better job of meeting everyone’s basic needs (which we are more than capable of doing, at least in the United States), there will be less room for conspiracist, racist, or fascist leadership or groupthink. This is a broad goal that requires state and federal resources, but we can also make a significant impact at the local level through affordable housing, adequate wages and better social services. So as we pursue these goals, let’s keep in mind that we aren’t just trying to improve individuals’ lives, we’re also trying to heal our democracy.