Americans are sleepwalking into a Trump dictatorship

Donald Trump Jim Vondruska/Getty Images
Donald Trump Jim Vondruska/Getty Images
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Donald Trump’s devolution into an American dictator who believes that he is on a mission from God as some type of chosen one continues. This is mentally pathological behavior on a massive level. His Hitler-like behavior is only going to get worse as next year’s presidential election approaches and the pressure from his criminal and civil trials increases.

Trump’s behavior is not isolated to him, it is important to note. He is the leader of a political cult movement and controls the Republican Party.

On Saturday, Trump gave two speeches in Iowa to his MAGA faithful. In Ankeny, Trump continued to advance his Big Lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his MAGA people. During that same speech, Trump continued with his white supremacist threats and plans to end multiracial democracy, by telling his followers that they should go to Democrat-led (meaning majority black and brown) cities and other communities to “protect” the vote on Election Day 2024. The implication here is clear: these (white) Trumpists, in a replay of Jim Crow and the Black Codes are to use the threat of force to keep black and brown people from exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. Trump is basically trying to incite widespread violence on Election Day 2024:

The most important part of what is coming up is to guard the vote, and you should go into Detroit, Philadelphia, and some of these places, Atlanta, and you should go into some of these places, and we have to watch those votes….

Watch those votes when they come in, when they’re being, you know, shoved around in wheelbarrows and dumped on the floor and everyone’s saying what’s going on?....We’re like a third world nation, a third world nation. And we can’t let it happen….

During a speech in Cedar Rapids that took place later in the day, Trump anointed himself as being handpicked by God and a vessel of divine will. As Salon's Heather "Digby" Parton wrote, "Trump unveiled a new 'I know you are but what am I' campaign strategy over the weekend by attacking President Joe Biden as 'the destroyer of American democracy.'":

The claim is ludicrous, of course. Trump's the one who attempted to overturn the election and incited a violent mob to storm the capitol and stop the certification of the election. There is no greater example of democracy destruction than that. But he said it and it wasn't off the cuff. They passed out placards before the rally that said, "Biden attacks Democracy" and flashed the words on a big screen above him as he said it.

“But I think if you had a real election and Jesus came down and God came down and said, ‘I’m going to be the scorekeeper here,’ I think we’d win there [in California], I think we’d win in Illinois, and I think we’d win in New York," Trump told his gathered MAGA troops.

Trump is telling his followers what they want to desperately believe. Public opinion, focus groups, and other research repeatedly show that a significant percentage of White Christians see Trump as a prophetic figure who is a tool for their “God” to make America a White Christian nation.

In the same speech in Cedar Rapids, Trump, in a rare moment, told the truth about his and the neofascist movement’s plans to end American democracy: “We've been waging an all-out war on (in) democracy." This was not a gaffe or error given the context of Trump’s behavior and threats for the last seven years, including a coup attempt and the Big Lie.

Two recent news articles are continuing to sound the alarm very loudly even as too many Americans, specifically members of the political class and news media, are waking up too late to stop what feels like a repeat of 2016 and what will be an even worse disaster for the country and world on Election Day if Trump returns to power.

A new essay in the Economist asks: Is Donald Trump the most dangerous threat to the world in 2024?

This is a perilous moment for a man like Mr Trump to be back knocking on the door of the Oval Office. Democracy is in trouble at home. Mr Trump’s claim to have won the election in 2020 was more than a lie: it was a cynical bet that he could manipulate and intimidate his compatriots, and it has worked. America also faces growing hostility abroad, challenged by Russia in Ukraine, by Iran and its allied militias in the Middle East and by China across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea. Those three countries loosely co-ordinate their efforts and share a vision of a new international order in which might is right and autocrats are secure.

Because maga Republicans have been planning his second term for months, Trump 2 would be more organised than Trump 1. True believers would occupy the most important positions. Mr Trump would be unbound in his pursuit of retribution, economic protectionism and theatrically extravagant deals. No wonder the prospect of a second Trump term fills the world’s parliaments and boardrooms with despair. But despair is not a plan. It is past time to impose order on anxiety.

The greatest threat Mr Trump poses is to his own country. Having won back power because of his election-denial in 2020, he would surely be affirmed in his gut feeling that only losers allow themselves to be bound by the norms, customs and self-sacrifice that make a nation. In pursuing his enemies, Mr Trump will wage war on any institution that stands in his way, including the courts and the Department of Justice.

Yet a Trump victory next year would also have a profound effect abroad.

The Economist then emphasizes how Trump would weaken the global order by withdrawing from NATO, ending support for Ukraine which would advance the cause of Putin and the global antidemocracy movement, make poor choices that could expand the war in the Middle East, and perhaps even embolden China to become even more aggressive in the region (perhaps going so far as to (finally) invade Taiwan) as America’s key allies in Asia acquire nuclear weapons because they have to fill in the power vacuum created by an American withdrawal.

The Economist concludes, “A second Trump term would be a watershed in a way the first was not. Victory would confirm his most destructive instincts about power. His plans would encounter less resistance. And because America will have voted him in while knowing the worst, its moral authority would decline. The election will be decided by tens of thousands of voters in just a handful of states. In 2024 the fate of the world will depend on their ballots.”

The Economist is not some “left-wing” publication, rag sheet, or click bait content farm. It is a solidly conservative, respectable, and institutionalist publication that has been published, in one form or another, since 1843.

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In a powerful, if not devastating, new essay at the Washington Post, neoconservative Robert Kagan pleads with the American people and their responsible leaders to stop Dictator Trump.

Kagan’s article is some six thousand words long. He writes with such clarity and force that it is as though he knows, given the realities of Trump and his allied forces’ threats to end the First Amendment and the Constitution, rubbleize the rule of law, and put his “enemies” in jail or worse, that he, like other pro-democracy voices, is on borrowed time. When Dictator Trump takes power, what will happen? Kagan warns:

Having answered the question of whether Trump can win, we can now turn to the most urgent question: Will his presidency turn into a dictatorship? The odds are, again, pretty good.

It is worth getting inside Trump’s head a bit and imagining his mood following an election victory. He will have spent the previous year, and more, fighting to stay out of jail, plagued by myriad persecutors and helpless to do what he likes to do best: exact revenge. Think of the fury that will have built up inside him, a fury that, from his point of view, he has worked hard to contain. As he once put it, “I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up.” Indeed he could — and will. We caught a glimpse of his deep thirst for vengeance in his Veterans Day promise to “root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream.” Note the equation of himself with “America and the American Dream.” It is he they are trying to destroy, he believes, and as president, he will return the favor….

But that’s just the start. After all, Trump will not be the only person seeking revenge. His administration will be filled with people with enemies’ lists of their own, a determined cadre of “vetted” officials who will see it as their sole, presidentially authorized mission to “root out” those in the government who cannot be trusted. Many will simply be fired, but others will be subject to career-destroying investigations. The Trump administration will be filled with people who will not need explicit instruction from Trump, any more than Hitler’s local gauleiters needed instruction. In such circumstances, people “work toward the Führer,” which is to say, they anticipate his desires and seek favor through acts they think will make him happy, thereby enhancing their own influence and power in the process.

Kagan’s conclusion:

A paralyzing psychology of appeasement has also been at work. At each stage, the price of stopping Trump has risen higher and higher…. But wait until Trump returns to power and the price of opposing him becomes persecution, the loss of property and possibly the loss of freedom. Will those who balked at resisting Trump when the risk was merely political oblivion suddenly discover their courage when the cost might be the ruin of oneself and one’s family?

We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

In an interview with CBS on Sunday, former Rep. Liz Cheney warned that the American people are “sleepwalking into dictatorship” if they elect Donald Trump in 2024. Cheney, like too many other members of the political class and news media who still believe in the myth of American exceptionalism and the inherent goodness of the “average" American, has committed a fundamental error in her assumptions and therefore conclusion. In reality, there are tens of millions of (white) Americans who know exactly what Trump represents and want him to be president again. Trump is a weapon for their rage, anger, resentment, destructive impulses, cruelty, and desires to hurt the people they despise. These Americans are not asleep, tricked, bamboozled, conned, or somehow not aware of what they are doing and the implications of such collective evil and meanness. American fascism as a force and idea, and the fascists and authoritarians and others who are attracted to such politics and vision, are very real – and denying that fact will not save this country or its democracy and future. They know the evil that they do and are doing it with their eyes wide open.