‘Makes Nixon look like a choirboy’: Watergate's John Dean warns that ‘our democracy will be gone’ if Trump is re-elected
Many of President Donald Trump’s critics have been warning that as terrible as his presidency has been so far, a second Trump term would be even worse if he defeats his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in November. Journalist Tyrone Beason, in an article published in the Los Angeles Times on September 8, talks to some major political figures who believe that the United States could slide into full-fledged authoritarianism if he wins a second term — including John Dean, who served as White House counsel under President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.
Dean told the Times, “I worked for the last authoritarian president, and he was dangerous enough. Trump makes Nixon look like a choirboy. If we get four more years of him, then our democracy will be gone.”
Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Beason notes, asked Trump if he would accept the election results if he loses to Biden — and he responded, “I have to see.” That statement, according to Beason, is a prime example of why Trump’s critics are so worried.
Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, told the Times, “It can be easy to view some of this as science fiction, doomsday stuff, but there is really something extraordinary and extraordinarily worrying going on. The checks and balances, the legal constraints, the unwritten norms — they’re all under enormous pressure.”
According to Waldman, Trump’s efforts to make Americans distrust the country’s democratic institutions are characteristic of an authoritarian.
“That’s what a dictator does,” Waldman told the Times. “It’s utterly foreign to the entire 244-year history of the country. There’s been ugliness. There’s been racism. But to have a leader try to undermine the vote, as a part of his core strategy, is something that’s never happened. That is a sign of a shaky democracy.”
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden is highly critical of Trump’s threat to use the U.S. military against civilian George Floyd protestors, and he told the Times that if Trump is reelected, “I don’t know what will happen to the American republic.”
The 75-year-old Hayden commented, “I’m going to be gone sooner or later, but I thought America would be OK … I’m a little bit scared now.”
Beason points out that these “grave warnings” from Dean and Hayden “are notable because they don’t just emanate from Trump’s detractors on the left, but in many cases from within conservative ranks — and from people who served in Republican administrations.”
According to Dean, “Those who say this election is a defining election, they’re not spoofing. It’s a shame that more people don’t see it.”