Dana Milbank is my favorite columnist in the Washington Post. He is outspoken and documents what he says. I am always informed by reading his work. This is a good one.

He writes:

President Biden on Thursday offered some harsh words about those of the “extreme MAGA philosophy” currently hacking away at our democracy.

“It’s not just Trump,” he said at a fundraiser. “It’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something: It’s like semi-fascism.”

He expanded on the theme later at a rally. “The MAGA Republicans,” he said, are “a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence.”

Good for him. Those who cherish democracy need to call out the proto-fascist tendencies now seizing the Trump-occupied GOP.

Republican candidates up and down the November ballot reject the legitimate outcome of the last election — and are making it easier to reject the will of the voters in the next. Violent anti-government rhetoric from party leaders targets the FBI, the Justice Department and the IRS. A systemic campaign of disinformation makes their supporters feel victimized by shadowy “elites.”

These are hallmarks of authoritarianism.

Americans are taking notice. A new NBC News poll finds that “threats to democracy” has become the top concern of voters, replacing the cost of living as the No. 1 concern. The 21 percent who cite it as the “most important issue facing the country” include 29 percent of Democrats, and even 17 percent of Republicans. (Many Republican voters have been deceived into believing there’s rampant voter fraud, but at least they care enough about democracy to be concerned.)

The Republican response to Biden’s warning? “Despicable,” Republican National Committee spokesman Nathan Brand said in a statement. “Biden forced Americans out of their jobs …” (For the record, the economy has added nearly 10 million jobs during Biden’s presidency, after losing 2.9 million during Trump’s.)
That’s emblematic of the GOP response generally when called out on its assaults on democracy: victimhood and fabrication.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered a classic of the genre this week. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, writing in The Post, had condemned Rubio’s contributions to “a culture of fakery,” saying the senator’s “fake populism and anti-intellectualism … are necessary ingredients of an authoritarian takeover.” Rubio, writing in the Federalist, a Trumpist publication, responded with more fakery, and by portraying himself as the victim. “This cisgender white male reeks of privilege,” Rubio wrote of Wilentz, borrowing the language of the woke left.
Rubio, misrepresenting a Post account of a Biden meeting with historians (including Wilentz), said that those warning about authoritarianism are “peddling … imaginary threats.” Rubio added: “If you’re looking for authoritarianism, look no further than what happened under the watch of Anthony Fauci and his allies in the elite establishment.”
The day after Rubio alleged that the true authoritarian threat is the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (a job Fauci has held since the Reagan administration), the senator joined Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a campaign event. There, DeSantis said this about Fauci: “I’m just sick of seeing him. … Someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac.”

Dehumanizing a foe’s appearance and fantasizing about violence against him: Where have we seen this before?

Earlier this month, a man was sentenced to prison for threats against Fauci — including, as the Daily Beast reported, a wish to break every bone in his “disgusting elf skull.” It was one of countless violent threats against the scientist as Republican officials targeted him for, among other things, the “sweeping shutdown” during the pandemic, as Fox News’s Neil Cavuto put it to Fauci this week.
“I didn’t shut down anything,” Fauci replied.

That’s true. All Fauci could do was give advice. Some governors followed it. DeSantis didn’t. Instead, he fueled conspiracy theories, dubious treatments, and hostility to masks and vaccines. And Florida, after vaccines became available, had by far the highest covid-19 death rate among big states.

Since then, DeSantis has devoted himself to book banning, voter intimidation and restrictions on what schools can teach about race, history and sexuality — all while DeSantis, a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, bashes “elites.”

Such relentless attacks on facts, expertise, learning and voting, like fantasies of violence against a nefarious elite, are tools of the authoritarian. But don’t take Biden’s word for it.

At DeSantis’s alma mater this week, Yale President Peter Salovey opened the academic year with a speech on the current “assault on truth,” in which he quoted Hannah Arendt, revered philosopher of the pre-Trump right: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

This is where the MAGA Republicans are taking us. It’s past time to call it what it is.