A Trump Dictatorship

How do dictatorships come about?  That is a question easily answered in most cases.  The classic instances arise as the result of a military coup or at least with the support of the military or following a victory in a civil war.  There is almost always an element of force – but not always.

Hitler, for example, came to power following a democratic election.  Having achieved power more or less legitimately, he then entrenched his regime with the help of a whole apparatus of terror and repression.  But the real source of his power was the conviction that he could not be resisted, and that it was therefore best to do what you were told – as everyone else did – since it was too dangerous to do otherwise.

Are we witnessing a similar scenario unfolding before our eyes in the United States?  We have a leader elected according to the US constitution but acting increasingly as though he is subject to none of the usual constraints on the arbitrary use of power.

Donald Trump used all the familiar techniques of demagoguery to get himself elected.  He showed scant regard for the truth, told “big lies”, attacked his opponents as “enemies”, targeted minorities, appointed his own family members and cronies to positions of power.

He took office as President with an alarming ignorance of the country he led and its history – and that included what seems to be a complete misunderstanding of how government works in a democracy and of his own role in that government.

His experience as a business tycoon and as a reality TV star seems to have persuaded him that being in the “top job” means that you can do what you like – without any constraint from the other elements of a democratic system of government – and that people are accordingly compelled to do what you tell them.

As a result, when the courts declared his ban on certain entrants to be illegal, he was outraged – and he is equally outraged when he is held to account by the media.  In an attempt to undermine confidence in them, he has regularly lambasted them for publishing “fake news”.  And his difficulty in getting his healthcare legislation through Congress led him to threaten to “close down” government.

His view of government seems to be that the courts, the legislature and the media should be allowed no role, and that it is the executive alone – in the person of the President – that exercises unbridled power.

It is his most recent exercise of Presidential power, however, that should really set the alarm bells ringing.  His “termination” of James Comey, the FBI Director, has added the intelligence services to his list of those agencies from which he will brook no interference or even a hint of opposition.

It has hit the headlines because it seems so evidently an attempt to close down an inquiry into the Russian involvement in his election campaign. But, important though that issue is, the “termination” has a much wider significance.  It sends the message that no one in government or beyond can afford to cross him.

Much now depends on the reaction made by the country’s leaders to this startling exercise of arbitrary power.  If they do not respond and simply roll over, a major step towards a dictatorship has been taken.

A despot does not achieve power because he himself personally injures, threatens or restrains his opponents.  The power is achieved because he controls the levers of power exercised by others.  It is the willingness (or at least the lack of resistance) of others to carry out his orders that is the source of his power.

It is the conviction that resistance is futile – even in the midst of the trappings of democracy – that is the essence of a dictatorship.  If Trump is seen to “terminate” a top official – one responsible for the country’s security – simply to protect himself and his own reputation, and does so with impunity, the lesson will be quickly learnt.  The new FBI Director, for example, will know that he or she takes office on condition that the President’s own personal interests must prevail over all other considerations – and everyone else will learn that lesson too.

A huge burden now falls on those who are meant to be guardians and upholders of democracy in the United States.  They cannot just close their eyes and pretend not to see.  It may seem unthinkable in today’s American democracy that a Trump dictatorship is possible.  But, as Edmund Burke famously warned, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.

If they do nothing, the conditions needed to increase and underpin the power of the despot will be met.  The leaders of the Republican Party already bear a heavy responsibility for their role in bringing about a Trump presidency.  It is time for them to step up to the plate.

Bryan Gould

11 May 2017

 

 

8 Responses to “A Trump Dictatorship”

  1. mikesh says:

    There is something hypocritical about all this, given that Obama, and a number of other world leaders were opennly advising the French people to vote for Frau Merkel’s French poodle, Macron, in the recent French presidential election. There used to be, I think, a tacit understanding among politicians that they didn’t interfere with the politics of another country.

    As for Comey, I believe, though I may be wrong, that he was sacked on the recommendation of the Justice Department.

  2. Bryan Gould says:

    On your more general point, I see no parallel between Obama expressing a view on the French elections and Trump’s involvement (if proven) with the Russians. On your second point, not so, I think.

  3. Patricia says:

    I agree with Mikesh. If and it is a very big If, Russia did interfere with the US election so what? The US intereferes in every bodies elections and has always done so. All countries do. I remember the Guardian, some years ago, telling its readers to write to people, anybody, in the US, telling who they should vote for. Trump is not a nice person but I am not sure he is the ‘bad guy’ everybody says he is. He is just a fool. Unfortunately a fool that can activate the nuclear button. A US President has very little power. It is important that he wears a bespoke suit but in reality he is just there to distract the people from what is really happening.

  4. mikesh says:

    Yes, it was actually Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who recommended the sacking, not the Justice Department. My apologies.

    On the first point: The two situations are of course not identical, but I still think the US is being hypocritical.

  5. Pablo says:

    Despite the respect I have for Bryan it is disappointing to see the now derigeur MSM line being presented here on a number of fronts: Allegedly Germany was financially crippled by the reparations required after the First World War yet somehow funding for rearmament came from somewhere and It is alleged that certain wealthy investors on Wall Street put up the money and the Corbett Report alleges that Hitler was the bastard offspring of a Rothschild: https://www.corbettreport.com/who-funded-hitler-video/

    The repression that Bryan talks about is already deeply embedded into the USA (and other places) and its state security apparatus/political leaders, Obama despite all his wonderful orations was the first POTUS to have the USA constantly at war over his two terms, despite being Black did nothing to improve the lot of black and working class US citizens, brought in huge increases in healthcare costs under Obamacare and more: https://www.corbettreport.com/obama-a-legacy-of-ashes-video/

    The US has a long history of interference/destabilising in other countries e.g. Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan etc and started with the genocide of the Native American tribes and grew on the enslavement of Africans amongst others.

    It seems to me that at the last US election it didn’t matter who the citizens voted for, as neither candidate was likely to deliver to anyone other than those who really control the US see George Carling who has this covered here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

    As for Comey, it seems he was compromised but in any csse it is clear that the state apparatus of the FBI, CIA , DHS et al is not there to do the best for American citizens but is there to promote and guard the interests of Wall Street investment companies and the wealthy elite and the constant ‘war on terror’ is there to generate profits for Wall Street and the US taxpayers and the innocent citizens of others pay the price – often with there lives: see any of GeorgevWebb’s videos on YouTube but perhaps start here http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Q5ZxQ5KYM

    • Bryan Gould says:

      Even if we accept 100% of all the points you make (and I accept some parts of some of them), I don’t see that that should absolve us from identifying and opposing new threats as they become apparent. Why should mistakes and injuries perpetrated in the past mean that we should accept and relax about a whole new generation of them now? Bryan

      • Pablo says:

        I don’t suggest or propose that “mistakes and injuries perpetrated in the past mean that we should accept and relax about a whole new generation of them now”, to a large degree that is precisely my point; there is a tendency amongst human beings to think that the bad things that happened in the past, happened because people weren’t educated or knowledgeable or because standards of behaviour had not reached ‘modern standards of ethical behaviour’ and that we have ‘progressed’ in how we respect and treat others. Sadly nothing could be further from the truth and one only has to consider the Israel/Palestinian situation, or in Lebanon, Syria or even the travails of Greece in the EU and the debt which continues to grow each and every the “bailout” is refinanced etc to recognise that nothing appears to have changed. However the setting up of Russia as the token Bogie Man as a means to depose Trump even if he is deposed would not change materially any of these things and is a means to distract the general population from seeing the real cause of much of the chaos and harm that goes on in the world.

        In deposing Trump there is no certainty that whoever might replace him will be any better, in any case much of the power lies (excepting executive orders) with the Senate; possibly the only way things might improve is if more light and air is allowed into the dark and murky dealings of the various state secret service bodies and the private contractors or front companies to expose their operations. I strongly recommend the afore mentioned series of open sourced investigations by US citizen George Webb on YouTube which are truly shocking even to a sceptic like myself.

  6. Patricia says:

    I think you are missing the point Bryan. The structure that now exists through out the western world is designed to create a bogeyman and confuse the people to stop them thinking. If they ever do stop and have a think. To accept that there is a bogey man, as it seems you do, just buys into the PTB’s creation of how we have to think. The terror that exists now, so elegantly expressed by Pablo, surely must make everybody reassess what we are told?

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