A second ‘authoritarian’ Trump term could kill democracy in the US: conservative

A second ‘authoritarian’ Trump term could kill democracy in the US: conservative
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore

A wide range of Joe Biden supporters — from liberals and progressives to centrist Democrats to Never Trump conservatives — have been warning that as much of a nightmare as Donald Trump's presidency has been so far, a second term would be much worse. One of the right-wing Never Trumpers who has been sounding the alarm is journalist David Frum, who was a supporter of President George W. Bush during the 2000s but is rooting for former Vice President Biden in 2020. In an article published by The Atlantic on October 14, Frum warns that a second Trump term could push the U.S. into full-fledged authoritarianism.

"The most important ballot question in 2020 is not Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, or Democrat versus Republican," Frum explains. "The most important question is: will Trump get away with his corruption — will his crooked and authoritarian tactics succeed? If the answer is yes, be ready for more. Much more."

Frum is hoping that Trump loses on Tuesday, November 3 not because he is deeply in love with the Democratic Party platform, but because he considers Trump so dangerous.

"As we near the 2020 vote," Frum notes, "the Trump Administration is attempting to cripple the Postal Service to alter the election's outcome. The president has successfully refused to comply with subpoenas from congressional committees chaired by members of the opposing party. He has ignored ethics guidelines, junked rules on security clearances, and shut down two counterintelligence investigations of his Russian business links — one by the FBI, the other by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He has assigned prison police and park police to new missions as street enforcers, bypassing the National Guard and the FBI."

Trump, according to Frum, has corrupted much of the Republican Party.

The conservative journalist recalls, "Perhaps the most consequential change Trump has wrought is in the Republican Party's attitude toward democracy. I worked in the administration of George W. Bush, who was the first president since the 1880s to win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote. Bush recognized this outcome as an enormous political problem. After the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, on December 13, 2000, the president-elect promised to govern in a bipartisan and conciliatory fashion…. You may believe that Bush failed in that promise, but he made that promise because he recognized a problem. Two decades later, Trump has normalized the minority rule that seemed so abnormal in December 2000."

Trump's authoritarianism, Frum warns, is evident in his willingness to "incite violence."

According to Frum, "Political violence has become central to Trump's message. He wants more of it…. Trump's appeal is founded on a racial consciousness and a racial resentment that have stimulated white racist terrorism in the United States and the world, from the New Zealand mosque slaughter — whose perpetrator invoked Trump — to the Pittsburgh synagogue murders to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California. In recent weeks, political violence has caused those deaths in Kenosha and Portland. A second Trump term will only incite more such horror."

Frum wraps up his article by stressing that in the United States, democracy itself is on the line this election year.

"Voters in 2020 will go to the polls in the midst of a terrible economic recession, with millions out of work because of Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic," Frum writes. "But the country is facing a democratic recession too, a from-the-top squeeze on the freedom of ordinary people to influence their government."

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