Thursday, November 24, 2016

The A, B, C's of Dictatorship

Harvard prof and Foreign Policy columnist, Steven Walt, has a thoughtful essay, "10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator."

My fears about Trump’s foreign policy have always been two-fold: that he might pursue a more sensible grand strategy but do it incompetently, thereby weakening America’s international position, or that he will eventually get co-opted by the foreign-policy establishment and repeat the Blob’s most familiar mistakes. Based on some of his early appointments — like Islamaphobe Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor — we might even get the worst of both worlds: unrealistic goals pursued ineptly.

But if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. ...Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.” For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

Walt continues to list 10 warning signs ordinary Americans should watch out for after Trump takes over on January 20th. It's a long but worthwhile read. Follow the link above.

I've been pondering whether Trump might inadvertently do what the moribund Democrats have persistently failed to achieve? Could Trump mobilize the American left? How would it happen? Would it be left versus right? Might America fracture on generational lines - angry old white folks on one side, everyone else on the other?

Trump may unintentionally bring down the very power structure he now thinks he owns, creating the conditions by which he and his order are run out on a rail of unrest. He wouldn't have to check off many of professor Walt's 10 boxes to empower and energize a resistance determined to toss out their mostly corrupt government, Republican and Democrat.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Frank Bruni, writing in the NYT, makes one of the more trenchant observations about Trump I have come across.

"For Trump, bragging is like breathing: continuous, spontaneous. He wants nothing more than for his audience to be impressed.

And when his audience is a group of people, like us, who haven’t clapped the way he’d like?

He sands down his edges. Modulates his voice. Bends.

That was perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting, the one that makes his presidency such a question mark. Will he tilt in whatever direction, and toward whichever constituency, is the surest source of applause? Is our best hope for the best Trump to be so fantastically adulatory when he’s reasonable that he’s motivated to stay on that course, lest the adulation wane?"

If Bruni's observation is accurate, and I have a hunch it is, the best response to Trump may be silence, to simply frown and turn our backs on him when he displays the braggadocio plumage and then applaud and smile when he moderates and becomes more conciliatory.

Similar to the story of the psych class that ran an experiment on their prof. They would only laugh at his jokes when he was on one side of the room - the further on that side he got, the more they would laugh until they had him standing right near the door.