Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Buffalo, N.Y., on April 18. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

Regarding Robert Kagan’s May 20 op-ed, “How fascism comes to America”:

One need not be a fan of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to understand the differences among a “mobocracy” in 18th-century France, Italian and German fascist movements in the first half of the 20th century, and Mr. Trump’s candidacy. The mob in France moved against a monarchy, not a democratic republic. Neither Italy nor Germany had a strong tradition of democratic governance or lengthy unity as a nation-state.

The framers of our Constitution addressed the potential for “mob” rule descending into tyranny by creating a system of checks and balances at the federal level, and vesting important powers in the states. We have an independent judiciary, a free press now linked by the means of instant communication and a people who have stood up for our rights for more than two centuries. These are greater barriers to the rise of a tyrant than any example Mr. Kagan cited.

Actual fascists murdered millions of people in the last century. We should not demean the loss of these innocents by cheapening the use of the term, any more than the Holocaust should be used to describe events that do not constitute a similar horror.

Mark Disler, Rockville

Robert Kagan’s analysis was frightening but accurate. That someone is willing to arouse bigotry and scapegoating in pursuit of political success is not surprising. What is surprising and scary is that so many Americans are willing to support such a person.

Pandora’s box having been opened, even if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is defeated, the dangers to our carefully established political traditions and to all the groups he has scapegoated will need to be addressed — at the ballot box, among playground bullies and in society generally.

Terrie Gale, Washington

Robert Kagan’s analysis of the Trump phenomenon dismissed the causes as “maybe some” voter unhappiness with “economic stagnation or dislocation.” 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fitness for the nation’s highest office is a legitimate concern. But it is irresponsible to ignore the cumulative effects on American voters of decades of unchecked government spending and regulatory growth; attacks on individual liberty, community autonomy and cherished societal institutions; encouragement of factional and class warfare for political gain; and deliberate degradation of the United States’ global esteem and power. 

According to voter polls, Mr. Trump is not the answer. Nor, it should be noted, are the other remaining presidential candidates. But those who refuse to honestly ask the question should not be surprised. 

Jack Lichtenstein, Alexandria