Leftists are beginning to complain that Trump is insufficiently authoritarian
Since Trump’s election, leftists have insisted that he is a fascist authoritarian. Recently, though, they came up with an even worse charge to level at Trump: He’s not a dictator at all! Instead, he has a bizarre and unseemly fixation on states’ rights.
The watchwords for Trump used to be about his alleged totalitarian instincts. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Obama called Trump as fascist:
Obama told Kaine by phone, “Tim, remember, this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House,” Kaine says a clip included in the Hulu series, “Hillary,” NBC News reported.
It was a vile thing to say about a Republican candidate. Still, it was in sync with what Democrats and other leftists have been saying since the former Democrat announced he was running for President.
In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asserted that Trump was “running concentration camps on our southern border,” making him “an authoritarian and fascist president.”
This past January, before the Wuhan virus came to America, Joshua Keating, in a single paragraph, summarized the claims that Trump is authoritarian, knocked them down, and then concluded by saying Trump is still authoritarian:
Donald Trump’s election in 2016 sparked a veritable cottage industry of commentary about the decline of democracy and the rise of authoritarian forces. Essays like Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” and books like Steven Levitsky’s How Democracies Die made the rounds among jittery Americans suddenly wondering if they would recognize the end of American democracy when it came. Three years later, it’s clear that, if there’s a tipping point where a country goes from “free” to “not free,” the U.S. is still far from it. That House Democrats were able to impeach Trump without fearing for their lives demonstrates that reality. And yet, the impeachment inquiry also highlights the degree to which this president has managed to carry out brazen displays of authoritarian behavior with no consequences thus far.
We get it: Democrats believe that Trump is a dictator. Explaining that Trump’s effort at shrinking the federal government is the antithesis of totalitarianism has proven useless. Now, though, things are different.
Vox published an article describing “San Francisco’s lonely war against Covid-19.” It explains that San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed has consistently made all the right decisions to keep the city safe. This includes listening to experts (as Trump did with Fauci) and adapting to change (as Trump has done).
Logic would suggest that, if Breed did all the right things, but the city still can’t control the virus, the failure belongs to California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, who is one step higher in the political hierarchy. Given California’s escalating infection and death rates, people are beginning to question Newsom’s total lockdown.
That’s not Vox’s conclusion. Instead, it’s found a different culprit. “The city could have crushed the coronavirus. Then Trump got in the way.”
Trump’s problem, it seems, is that he refused to be an authoritarian dictator and, instead, respected the limits of the federal government:
“We are not isolated; we are interconnected,” Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told me. “The virus exploits that very interconnectedness of our society. Without a consistent, robust, and sustained federal response that is driven by science … eventually things cannot be sustained.”
This is why, experts argue, federal leadership is so key: The federal government is the one entity that could address these problems on a large scale. But President Donald Trump has ceded his role to the states and private actors — what his administration called the “state authority handoff” and the New York Times described as “perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations.”
The Trump administration, however, has explicitly left most of these issues for states to solve. The White House’s testing plan declared that the federal government is merely a “supplier of last resort,” leaving it to local and state governments and private actors to fix choke points along the testing supply chain.
To the extent the federal government has provided support, Trump has actively undermined it. When the federal government released a phased plan for state reopenings, Trump called on states to reopen faster — to supposedly “LIBERATE” them from economic calamity. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people in public wear masks, Trump said it was a personal choice, refused for months to wear a mask in public, and even suggested that people wear masks to spite him (although a recent tweet seemed to support masking)
Pay attention to the weasel words in that last paragraph. The writer alleges that Trump “called on states to open faster,” but Trump didn’t use federal power to force them to do so. And when the CDC recommended masks, he disagreed but the author couldn’t claim that Trump told his federal police to arrest people for wearing them.
Donald Trump – worst fascist dictator ever.
Image: YouTube screengrab