I agree that we've got strong institutions and a fighting spirit, but I also know that those institutions can be eroded and become nothing but political talking points.
The Romans hated tyranny. They loathed autocracy in a visceral way, and it was the core of their Roman identity. Roman government also began as a revolution against an Etruscan king named Tarquin and they never forgot this. They talked about it like we talk about our Revolutionary War. They then divided the powers of the king into a representational government with checks and balances so that it never happened again. Their heroes were revolutionaries like Brutus who deposed Tarquin or Cincinnatus who was like their George Washington - he assumed dictatorial powers several times, but abandoned those powers according to law each time to go back to private life.
And yet all these crucial elements of Roman political and social life were shadows of what they'd been by the time Augustus Caesar reorganized them into ornaments for his autocratic rule by gathering each of those powers into himself, giving rise to several hundred years of dictatorship.
It can happen anywhere. Even Augustus had to act carefully, and assume those powers bit by bit until he had them all - people still believed in the idea of their revolutionary Romanness even as those ideas were being totally reinterpreted and used to ensure the opposite of this revolutionary impulse. It looks crazy now to see Augustus claim that he's not a dictator, just because he didn't use the word, and have people fall for that.
In fascist America, we will still hold tight to our Bill of Rights, but the way those rights will be exercised will be altered to our detriment. The government will suggest we're free because we're allowed to own guns and exercise our freedom. All the while, a nefarious Supreme Court will reinterpret the rights that actually matter, and enable the government to do things that were beyond the pale before. Guns mean freedom, and guns are freely available, therefore you are free. This is despite the fact that a militia is nothing compared to the US military, but militia members celebrating their freedom won't care about that. All the while, the freedoms we have that can actually impinge upon a government's power like the 14th amendment. If you asked someone on the street what they thought about the importance of the 14th amendment was, they might not know. So you can damage the 14th amendment, spin it in the news, and only the disgraced experts that no one listens to anymore will care. And yet we will still have our Bill of Rights. We won't wake up tomorrow in fascist America, but if it does happen, it will be by means of our institutions and our values, not opposed to them.
Our institutions are being tested like no other time in our history. I guess we'll see how strong they really are. Sometimes I'm hopeful; sometimes I'm not.
I sound like a total downer here. We've got a fighting chance - I agree with you there. But I've never been so pessimistic. I think part of that is seeing racists and trolls all over Reddit, where I admit I spend too much of my time.
It's not an equivalent also because it's a strawman caricature. There are so few people like that, they're statistically zero. The internet does a great job of magnifying persecution complexes. Gamergate found like a handful of people with somewhat radical views. Under the banner of being worried about ethics in gaming journalism, it only really succeeded in creating this cartoon villain "Other" SJW that now serves as a pejorative to belittle people or identify them as an irrational enemy. The same thing is happening with the nebulous word "Globalist."