This Political Scientist Just About Nailed His Prediction for Trump's Presidency
Earlier this year, “The End of History” author Francis Fukuyama predicted that President Donald Trump would try — and fail — to become an American-style strongman.
During a Slate podcast with Yascha Mounk, Fukuyama said that it was entirely possible for a Trump-like figure to permanently destroy American democracy — but he didn’t believe that Trump himself was capable of doing so.
Part of the problem, Fukuyama argued, is that Trump has always lacked the kind of legitimacy that most aspiring dictators have when they take power. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, and he entered office with an approval rating in the mid-40s, which was unprecedentedly low for an incoming president.
Additionally, noted Fukuyama, Trump seemed to burn what little good will he had in office with a bungled attempt at implementing a travel ban and a botched push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“He’s made big strategic mistakes that a smarter future demagogue may not,” he said. “The way he could have become Erdogan or Putin is if he had really tried to reach out to people other than the narrow base of his fanatical supporters after the election… What really creates a tyrant is popular support, where your opponents are afraid to oppose you.”
Even though Trump is on the cusp of getting a major win with his party’s tax cut legislation, Fukuyama’s prediction that he would not be effective at consolidating power seems to have held up.
Trump has a special counsel investigating whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russia and whether the president himself obstructed justice to block the FBI’s investigation into potential Russian collusion. Trump’s party has recently suffered a string of electoral defeats, most embarrassingly in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones scored an upset by defeating Trump-endorsed Republican Roy Moore.
And finally, Trump’s approval rating remains mired in the 30s, which is unprecedentedly low for a president at the end of just his first year.