Is President Trump Moving Toward Being Authoritarian?
Opinion with citations.
It has occurred to some that the United States of America seems to possibly be progressing toward being a dictatorship.
For example, Transparency International lowered the rank of the United States in 2016 = 74 to 2019 = 69, a drop of at least 5 points for being the least corrupt country. The United States resides between France and the United Arab Emirates in this ranking. Also, Transparency International stated that the United States is “experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances”, along with an “erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power” since Donald Trump took office.
Following is a list of factors that may determine totalitarianism for Donald Trump: The Six Factors That Enable Totalitarianism by Tyler DeBrauwere.
Factor one: The dictator and his lieutenants are unified by their political ideology and any individual that breaks this unity within the dictator’s administration will be eliminated. This also includes individuals within the dictator’s political party will be heavily pressured to conform.
President Donald Trump instills obedience through these following measures of demanding loyalty through these mechanisms:
- Department heads are acting, not permanent in an effort to make sure there is obedience to his wishes.
- The number of Trump’s lieutenants that have left or terminated is extremely long which sends the message that you follow in line with the leader or you are out. List of Trump administration dismissals and resignations totals well over 300 individuals.
- Trump will be vindictive toward any person who fails to follow his demands and wishes.
- Creation of a cult of personality is a significant factor for Trump to force his will. From the Huffington Post: “Here’s the trick to cults of personality: the leader has to embody the people but also stand above them. He must appear ordinary, to allow people to relate to him. And yet he must also be seen as extraordinary, so that people will grant him permission to be the arbiter of their individual and national destiny.”
Factor two: A totalitarian state is based upon an ideology. For Trump, being so self centered and selfish his ideology is for him to win. “Personalist dictatorships” are regimes in which all power lies in the hands of a single individual. It is up to government employees to understand this requirement to keep their jobs by making that single individual happy. Donald Trump appears to be a personalist dictator type.
Factor three: “Propaganda and the Terror is the whip that keeps the population in line.”
Donald Trump has Fox “News”, a sham example of a news organization because it fails evidence and truth. Fox is Donald Trump’s propaganda organ owned by a Australian-born American, “giving up his Australian citizenship, to satisfy the legal requirement for U.S. television network ownership”. “Since Donald Trump became the US President, Murdoch has shown support for him through the news stories broadcast in his media empire, including on Fox News.” Donald Trump offers “a glorious, yet imaginary, future to a frustrated population” through is promise of “making America great again.
Side Note – Russian Intervention: Russian Putin has acted to enhance the standing of Donald Trump to diminish the United States by making some changes to the results of the 2016 election. Russia is an enemy of the United States so why did that country help Trump?
Factor four: A directed economy where the different state’s economic sectors are appointed by and controlled by the dictator. No evidence yet this is taking place.
Factor five: To “detach the individual from their individuality, transmuting the individual into the mass man; a member of the collective whose only purpose is to serve the regime and live by the regime’s ideology.”
We have seen this during the impeachment hearings where the members of the GOP Senate were cowered to abide by Trumps demands. We viewed a host of past renowned lawyers and politicians loosing their self identity, their integrity, for this cult personality.
Factor six: “seeks to monopolize weapons and armed combat in order to obtain further control of the populace.” The gun lobby is way too powerful to allow this to happen.
It becomes a bit clear that President Trump is not a complete calculating dictator yet. Because he is an alleged pathological narcissist, his behavior out of that alleged affliction matches some of the behaviors of a dictator because there is a parallel similarity . Sadly, in conjunction with the presidents affliction, there are other aiding factors that aids the president’s behavior.
- First is the aid that Fox “News” offers him with their muckraking journalism. “Fox Cable News is among the more corrupt institutions in American society, purveying outright lies for the benefit of the billionaire class.”
- Second is the politicians that cower.
- Third is the vast number of US citizens that support Trump out of their own prejudices that match Trump’s vitriol against minorities and the results of the last stock market crash of 2008 upon a vast segment of the U.S. population.
It appears that President Donald Trump fits or comes very close to meeting four out of Mr. Tyler’s six factors. He fits being a totalitarian by creating a cult of personality but not yet using police and military, to force his will. A major component of this rising cult of personality appear to be members of the Republican Party which he controls through the help of Mitch McConnell. Many of the GOP come from former confederate states. This is because “over the course of the 20th century, the evangelical coalition entwined theology, whiteness, and conservative politics” and “in the 2016 election, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump”.
President Donald Trump appears to have some clear similarities to being a authoritarian but so far we might reason this is because of his alleged narcissism. But beware that Hitler was also considered a pathological narcissist by some.
Recommended Reading: History of Totalitarianism
Revised: Feb 8, 2020