Donald Trump is not a threat to American democracy

By Robert Mann

Based on the impassioned rhetoric about him, you might think that Donald Trump is a despot in waiting, a 2016 version of Adolf Hitler. Some prominent members of his Republican Party certainly think so. To them, he’s a psychopath whose candidacy threatens not only their party but the future of the Republic.

Writing in the New York Times last Tuesday, Peter Wehner, a veteran of three Republican administrations, wrote: “Mr. Trump is precisely the kind of man our system of government was designed to avoid, the type of leader our founders feared – a demagogic figure who does not view himself as part of our constitutional system but rather as an alternative to it.”

The conservative syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell worried recently that Trump’s election would mean that the “downward trajectory of America over the past seven years may well continue on into the future, to the point of no return.” Columnist Michael Gerson, once an aide to President George W. Bush, wrote on Feb. 29 that a President Trump “would raise the prospect of serious damage to our democratic system.”

In the Washington Post on March 1, former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers declared flatly, “Trump’s election would threaten our democracy,” adding, “Even the prospect of Trump becoming president is dangerous.”

While I share Summers’ dread, I reject the idea that Trump’s election would threaten American democracy.

It is one thing to worry about the direction a potential president might take the country. (For example, I shudder at the thought of Trump appointing Antonin Scalia’s replacement to the Supreme Court.) It’s another thing, however, to suggest that the election of someone like Trump, no matter how unfit he may be for the White House, could spell an end to our form of government.

This kind of rhetoric is not new. For years, Republicans have warned that President Barack Obama was bent on destroying the nation. “Four more years of Obama will end America, the country we love, as we know it,” conservative radio host Sean Hannity told his listeners in 2012 as Obama campaigned for re-election.

Around the same time, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh declared: “It can now be said, without equivocation — without equivocation — this man [Obama] hates this country. Barack Obama is trying to dismantle, brick by brick, the American dream.”

Then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested Obama was not a real American.  Obama “doesn’t understand America,” Romney said, alleging that the president’s “agenda will make us a European welfare state.”

At the time, I scoffed at such language. Those words sound even more dishonest and ridiculous today than four years ago. On my blog in July 2012, referring to slurs against Obama’s patriotism and baseless allegations about his alleged Kenyan birth, I decided to play their game:

Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.

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5 Responses to Donald Trump is not a threat to American democracy

  1. martybankson says:

    Some good, sage advice to take a deep breath and just chill; the ability to do so is almost a luxury in today’s framework of apocalyptic political discourse. A Hillary/Trump general election will ensure The End as we know it.
    I am, however, deeply concerned about the temperament issue with Trump on the foreign policy issue though. The series of checks and balances that should thwart any major erosion of our current Constitutional setup are just not present with issues of the use of military force. Major world military engagements could lay a foundation for decreasing liberties guaranteed in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

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  2. jechoisir says:

    What most conservatives see is a larger pattern, old as the early Greek city states—-the chaos of a democracy gone astray and the result of that: the rise of a Strong Man Demagogue who either cannot or will not rein in the excesses without dictatorial authority. Most groups long for peace and equity in which to live their lives, rules they all follow and can count on their governors following. And they will elect a Mussolini to make the trains run on time or a Huey Long to distribute the means of government equally.

    For eight years, we’ve had a president who could not or would not work constitutionally. He evidently lacked the skill and certainly the humility to work through the people’s representatives, Congress. Compared with acts that originated in the White House and worked their way through Congress, his Executive Privilege edicts tell the tale. His own racism awoke the worst of the 1960s black racism. When a policeman doing his duty refused to let Henry Louis Gates in his home without proper identification, Obama declared it a national issue. The policeman was racist. He had to come to the White House to be re-educated. Before any legal authority had time to assess the situations in Florida or Ferguson, he spoke from his office, blaming “law enforcement.” His viscertal antipathy to white American had the same effect on many whites as the rhetoric of George Wallace had. The police were bad; black lives were the only ones that mattered. Mind you, he did not speak from the example of his own life, encouraging responsible and ambitious behavior in black boys. She spoke as the white middle-class sympathizer with rebellion that he is. His complete inability to perceive and handle international affairs has frightened and angered people. America no longer led. Its president did not share the respect for it his predecesors felt. In fact, he didn’t like it. He could not generate jobs, and lacking the faith of all the people, he could encourage the nation as FDR had and as Bush II had after 9/11.He has been an incompetent.

    So along comes a demagogue crying “I’m rich!” “I’m smart”, “I’ll carpet bomb Isis,” and all the other simplistic “I-wills,” and the frightened and angry and ignorant jump on his train. “He’s a businessman,” they say. “He’ll know what to do with the economy” (Remember General Bullmoose: what’s good for General Motors is good for the U.S.A.) I don’t think anyone should rule out that Donald Trump is a sociopath. Look up the hallmarks of a sociopath. He is America at its gaudy worst—a braggart, a bully, a business man who fleeces his investors through bankruptcy, a man who boasts of his libertine sexual life, a man who actually mocks lame journalist and mocks women mercilessly in the manner of a fourth-grader. With that hair and that face, he mocks the appearance of others! Publicly. He promises all and judging from facts, he has done nothing. He appeals to the basest fears and hatreds of a group of people who are already afraid and feeling put upon. That is a demagogue. And it does not appear that he understands his own weaknesses. He seems to think that having been in business and having bought senators, as he boasts he bought Sen. Clinton and the New Jersey governor, is enough experience.

    This kind of person does not work with Congress. He doesn’t listen to anyone but those who echo his views. His behavior is such that most Southern mothers would not permit their daughters to be seen in public with him. He cannot revive us after the last eight years. He is a shady cad whose rhetoric and choices reveal clearly what one could expect of him as president.

    I consider him dangerous. I was a graduate student in Alabama and Georgia in the worst of the Civil Rights times. I’ve watched us fall back into that mentality. I have grown angry myself. Donald Trump will wreck the Republican Party because bullies cannot be seen to lose, but he does not care. And maybe we’ve become a people who are so hung up on celebrity that we don’t care. That’s what conservatives and real Republicans—not just those who came into the party when the Democratic Party was taken over by the Black Caucus—fear. we hope our constitution will protect us from dissolution. But so did the German people, Jews included.

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  3. martybankson says:

    That’s the most Trump-like misrepresentation and bashing of Obama as the sole reason for the rise of Trump’s appeal conceivable. It makes the subsequent degradation of Trump himself an irony of a higher order. I do agree with most of your analysis of Trump (with the exception of the misplaced ‘carpet bombing’ source), but I think Republicans need to take most of the blame for this Frankensteinian creation.

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  4. OneStateWorker says:

    Bob,

    You expressed that you “…continue[d] to wonder why so many Americans doubt the resilience of our nation and its form of government.” I wondered how we got to a place where a substantial part of the US population do not accept scientific facts?

    I think the answer to both questions is the same: About 25 years ago, the Koch brothers and other oligarchs started influencing the conservative media. The two of the main messages are that (1) everyone does better when businesses and the wealthy do better, which jindal has so abundantly shown to be false, and (2) don’t believe it unless you hear it from me. The propaganda machine has been so effective that even smart people are sucked in.

    The second point has lead to a distrust of government, experienced government leaders, economic statistics, etc. This propaganda has “shown” how everything related to government is to be dismissed, including its resilience. This distrust also extends to scientific facts.

    The propaganda has created an environment where The Donald, an extreme demagoging outsider, could thrive because he, and his GOP opponents, are not limited by actual facts. He can say anything and get astounding amounts of free “news” coverage.

    jechoisir is clearly a victim of the propaganda with the “He could not generate jobs.” statement. This so far from reality that it significantly reduces the credibility of every other statement.

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