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Fascism-Lite in America (or the Social Ideal of Donald Trump) (Presentation Slides)

British Journal of American Legal Studies, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017  

Ewan McGaughey

King's College London - School of Law

Date Written: June 23, 2017


What explains the election for the 45th president? There has been grave concern, raised since Citizens United v. FEC, that corporate money is corrupting democracy. Many commentators have even been analyzing Donald Trump’s candidacy as ‘fascist’. This article suggests the true cause of current developments is Buckley v. Valeo, in 1976. An extraordinary memorandum of Lewis Powell for the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971 urged that ‘[b]usiness interests’ should ‘press vigorously in all political arenas for support’. Richard Nixon then appointed Powell to the Supreme Court. A few years after in Buckley, over powerful dissent, a majority held candidates may spend unlimited funds on their own political campaign. Buckley v. Valeo was the ‘Trump for President’ decision. The 2016 election cannot be separated from the social ideal pursued by a majority of the Supreme Court since 1976. No modern judiciary had engaged in a more sustained assault on democracy and human rights. Properly understood, ‘fascism’ is a contrasting, hybrid political ideology. It mixes liberalism’s dislike of state intervention, social conservatism’s embrace of welfare provision for insiders (not ‘outsiders’), and collectivism’s view that associations are key actors in a class conflict. Although it is out of control, Trump’s candidacy is closely linked to neo-conservative politics. It is too hostile to insider welfare to be called ‘fascist’. Its political ideology is weaker. If we had to give it a name, the social ideal of Donald Trump is ‘fascism-lite’.

These are slides to accompany the 2017 version of the paper found at

Keywords: Democracy, Fascism, Corruption, Lewis Powell, Antonin Scalia, Donald Trump, Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United, Corporations, Campaign Expenditures, Free Speech

JEL Classification: G30, G38, J40, J51, J58, K22, K30, K31, M14, P16, P26

Suggested Citation

McGaughey, Ewan, Fascism-Lite in America (or the Social Ideal of Donald Trump) (Presentation Slides) (June 23, 2017). British Journal of American Legal Studies, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Ewan McGaughey (Contact Author)

King's College London - School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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