“Disgustingly Authoritarian”: Donald Trump’s Dictatorial Conduct Threatens American Democracy

By Alana Pockros\The Nation

As of late, the cable news channels have stopped irresponsibly airing Donald Trump’s rallies in full. The result is that we have heard a lot about Trump but not as much from him. While this avoids giving the former president billions of dollars’ worth of advertising, this deplatforming strategy has still failed to blunt his rise. Last week, during a speech in Dayton, Ohio, he announced to a crowd of fans, “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be…a bloodbath for the country,” just before praising the MAGA “martyrs” who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Many Trump defenders were quick to say that he was not calling for another insurrection. It’s almost funny, Jeet Heer writes, as “there is something a little bit ridiculous in saying that a crude, scattershot, and digressive speaker like Donald Trump has to be treated with exegetical care, with particular attention to nuance and context.” Regardless of the connotations, Heer explains, the point here is less about quibbling with Trump’s intent and more about emphasizing the real threat of his campaign: that he’s disgustingly authoritarian.”

Trump is not hiding his desire to become a dictator. Before the Dayton rally, Chris Lehmann writes, Trump declared that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was his kind of guy.” “He speaks and his people sit up in attention,” Trump said of Kim Jong Un. “I want my people to do the same.”

Among Trump’s most frightening recent comments were derogatory and racist quips about immigrants—“not people, in my opinion”—which came just as we got a glimpse into what Lehmann called Trump’s vision of a “dystopian and deranged border surveillance state.” SCOTUS reversed, on procedural grounds, a stay on the immigration law known as SB 4, but thankfully the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals quickly reinstated it. For a moment there, Texas cops had the power to question anyone about their immigration status and deport them. The law could still go into effect and reverse a century’s worth of precedent.

Many of us, understandably, aren’t particularly enthused by the idea of another Biden/Trump rematch. The comedian Ginny Hogan calls this a “lesser of two evils” vote or a LOTE vote, which has a long and fraught history. Perhaps we will be voting this time out of fear, which as Hogan explains, is when LOTE voting happens most often. In the end, Hogan writes, “an enthusiastic vote counts the same as a fearful or defeated one.” And while dissatisfaction can reduce turnout, disgust can be a powerful motivator—and there are few candidates as disgustingly authoritarian, misogynistic, and racist as Trump.

Alana Pockros,

Engagement Editor, The Nation

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