There’s talk these days about the many nations, some sliding rather quickly, into right-wing, authoritarian, totalitarian regimes where controls in all matters reside with a “strong man.” So, what does the strong man do to act on his intents and how does that look, what are its hallmarks that disclose all individual rights and freedoms are on their way out or gone?
He announces that, he “alone can fix everything.” His first year reveals that he has brought, further and faster, the erosion of his nation’s democratic standards. The nation’s core institutions, governed formerly by ethical norms, are attacked and rejected.
He’s driven by self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment and revenge against anyone he perceives to be a political enemy or otherwise. Revenges are characterized by punches 10 times harder or screwed 15 times tighter than his “enemies” punched or screwed. He uses the despot’s platform to taunt and threaten, relentlessly and destructively going after non-compliant judges, members of the legislative body, law enforcement leaders, celebrities, professional athletes, and members of the media, charged as enemies of the people with violence encouraged.
His supporters unquestioningly accept his promises to reform his ways and be a man of the people, he guaranteeing better lives and living conditions for everyone. Yet, the authoritarian behavior from his past triumphs over hope for good leader behavior while his demagoguery, lying and distain for the rule of law dominate his regime.
Changes include politicizing the nation’s independent institutions, spreading misinformation, amassing executive power, quashing dissent, delegitimizing ethical communities upon which the nation was founded, and corrupting elections. Each and all of these “adjustments” are attacked simultaneously so that the citizens will become fatigued and confused by any effort to fight back and prevent eradications.
He launches ongoing efforts to trash the reputations of institutions like those in law enforcement and declare that he has every right to do so. He has his base of supporters and appointed staff in league with him who spread gossip about “deep state” conspiracies against him, including his repeated charges in reference to the “very bad and evil people” in the capital city trying to sabotage his right to absolute power.
How does a despot get to authoritarian rule? The gullible and ignorant believe the promises made during the campaign are never implemented, save for those to the wealthy. There are those who vote for the despot-in-waiting and stick by him for religious reasons. Then there are those who vote for him because their prejudices are identical to his and wait for him to act, believing rewards, advantage over others and privileges will come to them.
The guy we’ve got now has shown his true colors for two years through his throwaways of our system of checks and balances, rule by law and norm foundations from the U.S. Constitution and Bills of Rights; he seeks a path to totalitarian rule with he as monocratic head. Those who could have stood in his way have declined to do so, while recent mid-terms election may erect barriers to a full despotic takeover. The American people can stand up for their way of life or permit a want-to-be despot to make America over into the darkest days of Germany and Italy circa the 1930s.
(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion frequently in the Keizertimes.)