Warning Signs of Impending Dictatorship

Stephen Malt, in Foreign Policy, thinks he has some, and he’s concerned about many of them.

1. Systematic efforts to intimidate the media: Check

There’s little doubt that Trump and his associates have repeatedly tried to intimidate mainstream media organizations, whether through tweets deriding the supposedly “failing” New York Times, the repeated references to the “Amazon Washington Post,” or White House chief strategist and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon’s referring to media organizations as “the opposition party.”

If these worthies and their colleagues really are intimidated by being held in contempt, they’re hardly worthy of being “media.”  On the other hand, President Donald Trump has not arrested any reporters, or attempt to seize their communications records, or attempted to ban whole news organizations from White House press briefings.  That was ex-President Barack Obama (D).

2. Building an official pro-Trump media network: Partial check

Back in November, I speculated that Trump might “use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support” or even try to create a government-funded media agency to disseminate pro-Trump propaganda.  …the White House gave press credentials to the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit and has given the reliably wacky and pro-Trump Breitbart privileged access. And as one might expect, the Trump administration has backed the expansion plans of the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group.

So, Sinclair should be blocked from its expansion execution because it’s a press outlet?  Or is it because it looks like it supports the administration?  No free enterprise, when that’s inconvenient, is it?  Breitbart has privileged access?  How?  Because an ex-employee is on the White House staff?  In addition to Gate Pundit, other bloggers also were given access to the daily White House briefings, as were Skypers.  And—gasp!—they were allowed to ask questions!  Apparently this expansion of the public’s news sources isn’t to be allowed.  Oh, yeah—Obama didn’t need any of this—he already had the NLMSM in a symbiotic relationship with the Progressive-Democratic Party.

3. Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies: Partial check

Trump has tried to put his stamp on key government agencies by demanding that senior officials resign or by firing people who declined to do his bidding….

Of course he has.  As Executive Branch offices and officers, they work for him.  All Presidents, quite appropriately, do this.

4. Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents: Nothing yet

There certainly was a lot under Obama.  It was his NSA who began surveilling Americans directly, and not as an accident of surveilling foreign nationals.  It was his staff who exposed those Americans publicly, and deliberately, because they wanted to know who these Americans were, regardless of need.

5. Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents: Worrisome, but not a big problem so far

No reason to believe it will be a problem, either.  Unlike under Obama, where crony “green” enterprises, for instance, got lots of rewards.

6. Stacking the Supreme Court: Partial check

….  We don’t yet know what sort of justice Neil Gorsuch will turn out to be or whom Trump might appoint down the road, but it’s a safe bet they won’t be progressives

Not appointing Progressives to the courts is somehow “stacking?”  Naturally, Malt chose not to supply any logic for that claim.  What we can be sure of with Gorsuch and further Trump appointees is that they won’t be activists judges; they’ll hew to the Constitution and to the statutes that come before them.  That’s not stacking, that’s honoring the rule of law and judges’ oaths of office.

7. Enforcing the law for only one side: Blinking red.

Not even close.  It hasn’t been Trump who routinely called cops stupid, and it’s not been his DoJ who routinely portrayed—and acted on the portrayal—of cops as overall racist.  Instead, unlike Obama and the Holder/Lynch DoJ, Trump has pushed enforcement of the law, and supported rule of law instead of rule by law and those Obama administration men and women.

8. Really rigging the system: Blinking red

Malt’s rationale for this one is the Kris Kobach-headed voter fraud commission.  Never mind that voter fraud exists; it’s only the breadth and depth of it that’s unknown.  What better way to put this question to rest, and to show up Trump—as Malt and so many of his fellows think would be the case—than to carry through the commission’s inquiry enthusiastically and thoroughly by showing that there is no serious voter fraud?  Unless Malt and his are terrified that something else might be shown, instead.

9. Fearmongering: Check

As he did during the campaign, Trump has continued to issue dark warnings about various dangers from which he supposedly needs to protect us.

Because recognizing the dangers around us so planning can be carried out in less than a vacuum is fearmongering.  This is just idiotic.

10. Demonizing the opposition: Check (but he’s not alone)

No American president has been as prone to treat his opponents with contempt, disregard, and blatant hostility.

This is so plainly untrue that it’s almost a dishonest claim.  It was Obama who showed his contempt for every American between the east and west coasts by dismissing us all as Bible-clinging, gun-toting inmates of flyover country.  It was Obama who called everyone—Republicans in particular—unpatriotic for not supporting his policies.  It was Obama’s Congressmen who called Republicans terrorists and hostage takers for opposing Obama’s policies.  It was Obama’s protégé and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who called all Americans who disagreed with her irredeemably deplorable racists, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes.

The Left will be hard pressed to get any more…foolish…than this.

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