History shows that when revolutions occurred in human civilizations—recent and ancient—a huge number of people involved believed the outcomes would advantage them. However, the specifics in many examples reveal that, after peace returned, one man, sometimes a woman, established a stranglehold that resulted, save for a few confidants, in widespread loss of rights and freedoms.
The creation of the United States has been an exception where, otherwise, the last 100 years, when strongmen led revolutions, afterwards they demanded absolute allegiance and unquestioning loyalty by one and all. What became the U.S. Constitution has worked well enough to survive breakdowns, although former President Richard M. Nixon tried to overthrow it while current President Donald J. Trump is apparently busy trying to subvert and emasculate it.
Turkey provides a case study. In 2014, its authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired four prosecutors leading an investigation into alleged corruption involving Erdogan, whereupon he blatantly interfered, demanding the scandal disappear. It was within his authority to do so but his action resulted in widespread protests based on rule by law in Turkey. Erdogan claimed a conspiracy, threatened his opponents, and dismissed the charges.
A mere two years ago, in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, we observed a parallel. In ousting the man leading the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, he has behaved monocratically. While “no one” has seen the Mueller probe, Trump has declared “no collusion.” Yet, his direct associates have been indicted and convicted while accompanied by the “funny business” of Trump family members. Meanwhile, he’s after our constitutionally-established free press, other political parties and anyone who questions him, all having become “enemies of the people.”
Trump is damaging America’s democracy as he pushes hard against its limits. Things damaged will endure beyond his presidency and will predictably be difficult to repair. Trump’s abuses of power and his assault on truth are now heightened to extreme levels while the behavior of newly appointed U.S. Attorney General William Barr leads one to believe he’s a Trump employee and Trump’s latest private “fixer.” Meanwhile, for re-election’s sake, Republican members of Congress are breaking their oaths of office by surrendering to Trump rules, launching a new America where one man governs alone and GOPers obey.
All along, Trump has used a “smoking gun” on behalf of saving himself, breaking federal law and tradition. His behavior has perversely resembled a lawyer giving his closing arguments only to have the defendant rise to say, “Actually, I did it. And when you’re a star,’ they’ let you do it.”
Daily press briefings inside the White House have ended, replaced by Trump talking to reporters while walking to the White House helicopter. When questions irritate him, a regular feature, he signals the props to spin noisily, drowning out further dialogue. The transparent government of past times is moribund. FOX News is Trump’s exclusive source of information and his official news agency while he works to close down other news outlets.
Americans who continue to support and believe in Donald Trump are encouraged to read the 1930s Germany story where millions believed Adolph Hitler’s promise of a glorious future in his Third Reich. Hitler’s thinly-disguised plans for one-man rule were duplicated by Italy’s Benito Mussolini, China’s Mao Zedong, USSR’s Joe Stalin, France’s Napoleon Bonaparte, and Spain’s Francisco Franco, to name but five former dictators whose nations were destroyed under their rule.
(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)