President Trump has been called an authoritarian a lot lately. He has also been called a fascist, dictator, totalitarian and autocrat. I do not think I have seen him called imperious or a despot perhaps because the name callers are unfamiliar with a thesaurus. Whether he is any of these is the question to analyze.
We can look at many cases in history, but we have two prime examples during recent times that define what these people call him. And when I say “these people” it goes all the way up to the Speaker of the House. The two cases are Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro. These are prime examples of authoritarians.
The rule of these people has been relatively short — Chavez took over in February of 1999 and Erdogan became Prime Minister in March 2003. Though they came to office through open elections, during these respective periods of time they have coalesced power in their own hands through lessening the powers of the citizens and suppressing their freedoms, particularly the freedom of the press and simultaneously freedom of speech. Both countries are no longer free democracies. They have become authoritarian states, if not totalitarian states.
Has Trump suppressed anyone’s freedom of the press or thrown anyone in jail? The worst you can say he did was ban Jim Acosta of CNN from WH briefings because he was totally obnoxious. Obama did multiple acts of jailing journalists and/or spying on them.
Trump will not use powers that others insist he has. He told the press numerous times during COVID briefings to check their Constitution as he cannot do what they suggest he might. He will not create a national facemask requirement because he believes that belongs to the states to decide. Obama’s sidekick Biden says he would override the Governors and put in a national facemask policy on day one. Who is the authoritarian?
The Trump Administration has gotten rid of seven federal regulations for each one it has instituted – far more than the 2-1 he had promised in an executive order. He did sign two EO’s in 2019 directing greater transparency and protecting citizens and businesses from administrative abuses. None of these rules controlling our lives were Congressionally generated. They were all promulgated at the agency level by bureaucrats. A lot of them in the waning hours of the Obama Administration telling us how we must run our lives despite no legal standing. Trump has reversed those and more, saving Americans an estimated $50 billion annually from our government overlords. These are not the actions of an authoritarian. If anything these are the actions of an anti-authoritarian.
The Left gave negligible concern to the Obama Administration accelerating decrees from agencies of the federal government with no Congressional involvement that invaded nearly every aspect of our lives, and they never dropped the word “authoritarian” on him. Many have observed the Left attacking someone for doing something that they are doing themselves and complaining about it. The attack is only to camouflage their own actions.
Just as an aside, Trump is being branded an authoritarian while the Governors of the two largest Democrat controlled states are now lurching into telling restaurants and bars exactly what food they must serve their patrons to be able to serve alcoholic products. Chicken Wings do not cut it. That seems pretty totalitarian.
All of this came to a head because the federal government decided to defend two federal buildings in downtown Portland. Unrest and protests and some destruction had been going on for 35 days when the federal government inserted police forces to defend the buildings that the city police had abandoned along with other buildings in the area. The two buildings all of a sudden became the raison d’etre of hooligans when there were people telling them they could not burn them to the ground. Why would they stop when the local Mayor was blaming the Feds for defending our buildings?
One of the best known columnists in America, Nicholas Kristof of the NYT, went to Portland to be on the scene. He said the protesters did not endanger him except when they took down their masks to talk to him and exposed him to COVID. He did state that Portland had a real problem with vandalism and unrest, but somehow that did not affect him or he did not see it. And the only reason the unrest existed was because of the police forces sent by the federal government to defend our buildings. In fact, they could only be called federal troops – “What else can we call them?” Mr. Kristof, we can call them police and you should know the difference.
Here is the big picture. There are three groups there. There are people defending the federal buildings which had been being attacked and abandoned by the Mayor and his police. There are rioters (criminals) and people seeking destruction meaning to attack buildings and people. And then there are the protesters.
You see, as described by Kristof, there are good people on both sides. The problem here is he describes the protesters and never gets into the ones using lasers to blind our federal employees, throwing rocks, using slingshots, starting fires, etc. He tells us the protesters are protecting the bad people. Other journalists have described how the protesters and the criminals interact, but they don’t stop the criminals. They watch them. They don’t go home. They lock arms to protect the protesters. These “nice” protesters are aiding and abetting criminals. What is the difference between protecting someone who is creating destruction against our federal property and harboring a bank robber in their house? Not much unless you hate Trump.
Or Kristof could have focused on the gross immaturity of Governor Kate Brown and her government. She can complain about the federal police officers, but she objected to the fence protecting the building. The Portland Bureau of Transportation demanded the feds take the fence down because the fence was placed in a bike lane without permits. You have to really be seething hate to embarrass yourself with such an infantile move.
Here is another thought Kristof buried. This is the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Hatfield until recently was an icon of the Left and long-time U.S. senator from Oregon. This is a federal courthouse and Kristof, and many others, cannot find words to defend it from criminals defacing and burning it. Nothing is too big to sacrifice on the altar of hatred these people have created.
For now, Governor Brown has backed down and inserted Oregonian shock troops to quell criminal activity. We will see whether she can actually do her duty in conjunction with the Mayor who refuses to do his. If not the Feds will be back and this time they will not be quite as deferential to local authorities and the “mostly peaceful protesters” who are just as guilty as the criminals.
No, Trump is not the authoritarian. Just because you call him that and send it out in the daily emails of terms to use and then it is repeated by the robots on MSNBC and CNN does not make it so. Trump is the leading person in dismantling government and getting it out of our lives in the past 100 years. I dare you to name someone who is even close.