In my previous article I discussed how concentrating too much power in the hands of ANY one person could lead to disaster--especially if that person is only advised by "yes" men and women. A president who only seeks out the opinions of others who tell him what they think he wants to hear will be basing his assumptions on faulty or incomplete information, and stumbling around with blind spots never ends well.
However, if the imperial president with nearly unchecked power happens to be Donald Trump or someone like Trump, the danger becomes exponentially greater. Trump plans to implement an extreme authoritarian agenda that will transform America into a police state. The Los Angeles Times reports:
In speeches, interviews and campaign videos, Trump has promised to:
- Use the military to participate in the largest deportation of undocumented immigrants in American history;
- Order the National Guard into cities with high crime rates, whether local officials want it or not;
- Prosecute Californians who protect minors coming to the state for gender-affirming care;
- Impose a 10% tariff on almost all foreign goods, increasing prices for consumers;
- Appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” his political opponents, beginning with Biden;
- Purge the federal civil service of anyone who questions his views.
Unfortunately, Trump could enact much of this agenda without violating the Constitution. And once he purges everyone in the executive branch who might oppose his most blatant abuse of power, what then?
I can hear Trump's supporters protesting, "Donald Trump doesn't REALLY want to turn our government into a dictatorship. Surely, he will take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and we can count on his high regard for the Constitution to ensure he will honor that oath. And he will honor that oath, even if a Republican Congress removes many of the guardrails that have prevented previous presidents from amassing too much power. For the love of God, the man is so patriotic that he considers the Constitution sacrosanct."
It turns out that Trump manufactured a fake crisis of wide-spread election fraud and then used the crisis he created as an excuse to justify gutting the Constitution like a dead fish. I wouldn't be surprised if this Truth Social post appears as an exhibit in a trial against Trump someday.
Well, I'm sure that was a one-off. Trump was just angry when he posted that and he didn't really mean to imply that you can trash the Constitution. At least he still has a deep respect for the First Amendment's protection of freedom of the press. After all, our Founders recognized that a free press was so important for maintaining a check on government officials that they put its protection in the very first amendment. So we can count on Trump to honor the Constitution's commitment to free speech. Right? Right?
There is much to fear from a President who only considers following the Constitution optional. President Trump will be much more effective in dismantling our democracy in his second term than he was in the first term. Miles Taylor was a former chief of staff to Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s third Homeland Security Secretary. He was also a Republican until he left the party in frustration over its extremism in May 2022. Taylor predicts that of Trump will launch a shock and awe campaign to turn the government into a tool to seek political revenge against his enemies. (See the video below.)
Stephanie Ruhle: What do you want people to know most about a possible Trump second term?
Miles Taylor: Well, Stephanie, I think what's important is in the first term, what Trump wanted to do ended up being very scattershot. And not being too reductionist about it, it was a little bit like a cat with a ball of yarn when you walked into the Oval Office. Constantly distracted. Not a lot of focus. He knew he wanted to take a wrecking ball to the government, but by no means did he have a clear agenda.
What's worrying about a second term, and official after official that served in the Trump Administration told me, is now the plans are systematic. There's been extensive effort over the past few years of his closest loyalists to lay the groundwork from Day One, for what they call a shock and awe blitz on the federal government. And that means a department-by-department effort to weaponize the powers of the government against the political opposition. This isn't how taxpayers imagine their departments are going to operate, as retributive tools for a single man's anger. But that's what they're planning for, and they’re giving it the lightest veneer of legality and policy justification. But make no mistake, this is driven to satisfy one man's anger.
Taylor also warned that Trump's re-election was likely to spark political violence that could lead to a new civil war--a war quite unlike our first civil war. Note the threats directed at Taylor at the start of the next video. There is no shortage of rabid Trump supporters itching to intimidate--if not outright kill--opponents of their Dear Leader For more examples of Trump supporters threatening violence against anyone who stands in Trump's way, see Why We Need An Extensive Debunking Of Trump's Big Lie or watch this video of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss's testimony before the January 6th Committee.)
Taylor is not alone in predicting the death of our democracy if Trump wins in 2024. Presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, warns that Trump is unlike anyone we have seen in American history, and if he is elected again, he will implement a "Presidential dictatorship."
This all seems alarming, but are Miles Taylor and Michael Beschloss overreacting? Are Trump and those around him really planning to install Trump as a nearly all-powerful dictator? And will Trump use his expanded powers to destroy those who have opposed him and those who haven't been sufficiently loyal to him? Or is this all just hypothetical conjecture about what Trump might do? Trump gave us a pretty strong hint of what he wanted when Sean Hannity asked him if he wanted to be a dictator.
Trump said he wanted to become a dictator, but only on day one. But can you name me one dictator who gave up dictatorship while knowing full well that the moment he stopped being a dictator that he faced 91 charges that could put him in prision for the rest of his life? Can you name me one dictator who assumed dictatorship primarily to get revenge against his enemies who later stepped down volunatarily for the good of the people? Revenge? Why would I say Trump's primary motive for becoming a dictatore was to get revenge? Well, this word cloud that Trump posted to Truth Social. is a pretty big hint. Trump's ambition to become a dictator is second only to his desire to get revenge.
OK. So we know Trump wants to become a dictator. And we know he REALLY wants to get revenge. But how will he get there? Project 2025 lays out the first steps Trump and his supporters will take to consolodating power. More on that next.
Recommended watching: Alex Wagner and former federal prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann discuss how Trump will appoint lawyer to the Justice Department who will help him amass practically unchecked power to go after those who would keep him in check.