Extinction-Level Event: Trump the Dictator, Killer of American Democracy
The headline is clickbait-y, but the argument that Sullivan makes … that democracies enter End Stages, where they are vulnerable to dictators who offer the angry, confused masses, some measure of constancy and reliability … that argument is one that has been flitting around a lot of our minds.
Yes, Trump Could Win. He could. He really, really could.
There are an enormous number of highly motivated, ignorant, furious supporters. Their reasons are sometimes valid (economic erosion, societal disdain); sometimes not (racism, infantile love of guns). But they could, through the oxygen of 24/7 media coverage, turn into a Mass Movement, and thereby deliver us a president who has slouched towards Bethlehem.
Sullivan describes what the violent side of this might look like:
The racial aspect of this is also unmissable. When the enemy within is Mexican or Muslim, and your ranks are extremely white, you set up a rubric for a racial conflict. And what’s truly terrifying about Trump is that he does not seem to shrink from such a prospect; he relishes it.
For, like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control. Sleeping a handful of hours a night, impulsively tweeting in the early hours, improvising madly on subjects he knows nothing about, Trump rants and raves as he surfs an entirely reactive media landscape. Once again, Plato had his temperament down: A tyrant is a man “not having control of himself [who] attempts to rule others”; a man flooded with fear and love and passion, while having little or no ability to restrain or moderate them; a “real slave to the greatest fawning,” a man who “throughout his entire life … is full of fear, overflowing with convulsions and pains.” Sound familiar? Trump is as mercurial and as unpredictable and as emotional as the daily Twitter stream. And we are contemplating giving him access to the nuclear codes.