I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year about what a modern-day manifestation of fascism in the United States might look like, and I’ve decided that while I can’t give you a solid definition, I can give you examples. It’s like that other thing—you know it when you see it—and in this past year (in the past five years, really), we’ve seen fascism take shape here as much as I’ve personally been thinking about how I would define an interpretation of fascism in our 21st-century society.

That is to say, we’ve been seeing what amounts to fascism a lot.

The year 2021 started with an attempted coup d’etat in Washington D.C., where disgruntled Trump supporters ran amok in the nation’s Capitol building, attempting to halt congressional vote counting to affirm Joe Biden as the country’s 46th president. Democracy held that day, but, as we’re learning, it held by a thread so tenuous that there’s precious little to stop it from snapping the next time a Trumpster, or Trump himself, wants to steal an election. We may have Mark Meadows’s cretinous number this time around, but what’s to prohibit someone less bumbling from successfully toppling this American experiment to the ground?

To say democracy is teetering is to take the optimistic view; in some ways, it’s already crumbling. This year, Texas enacted an abortion law so extreme that scholars have noted its deep roots in what we would traditionally recognize as fascist states, Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini. The U.S. Supreme Court—a 6-3 conservative majority even though two Republican presidents who appointed five of these conservative justices lost the popular vote—refused to block the law. The court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade next summer.

And, locally, Wake County Public Libraries just took the drastic step of banning a graphic novel aimed at teens that explores LGBTQ relationships. It’s been a year devoted to the suppression of free academic thought in some circles, and I don’t think I need to remind anyone of who bans—or burns—books that espouse ideas they don’t agree with.

The year ahead, right now, looks grim. The third wave of the pandemic threatens, misinformation rages like wildfire, wildfire rages like wildfire as the planet warms, and democracy is at a precipice. It’s hard to find something positive to say.

My wish for the new year is that Congress, if it can muster the political will to do nothing else, will pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Though it won’t fix gerrymandering in the states and Congress, the bill at least will protect voters from unjust, racist, and undemocratic attacks on their rights. Despite recent setbacks, I still have high hopes for passing the Build Back Better bill, and, less realistically (or more idealistically), for abolishing the filibuster and expanding the U.S. Supreme Court. But I won’t get carried away.

I’ll end by saying, in a time when conspiracy theories and misinformation are rampant and when elected officials are less accountable than they’ve probably ever been in recent history, the Fourth Estate—journalism you can trust and rely on, especially at the local level—is critical to upholding something that resembles a democratic society. Your support of our work through our Press Club is invaluable, and I sincerely thank all of you for your contributions. I expect some changes to the INDY in the new year, which I’ll plan to share with you as soon as I can.

In the meantime, thank you for reading. I hope, in spite of it all, you’ll all have a safe, happy, and prosperous 2022.

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Follow Editor-in-Chief Jane Porter on Twitter or send an email to jporter@indyweek.com.