Noam Chomsky details the key warning signs of Trump's authoritarianism before the election
Noam Chomsky laid out why he considers President Donald Trump a major threat to democracy during an interview with Truthout's C.J. Polychroniou published this week.
Although countless polls have found the president losing to former Vice President Joe Biden in this year's presidential election, Trump has refused to acknowledge the possibility of his own loss. Instead, he has insisted that Biden can only win if rampant voter fraud occurs, suggesting he may not accept the election results if the former vice president is victorious.
Chomsky, now 91, has lived through many historic events — from the Great Depression and World War II to Watergate to 9/11. And during the Truthout interview, the left-wing author stressed that he considers Trump the most authoritarian U.S. president of his lifetime — which is saying a lot when one considers that Republican Calvin Coolidge was still president when Chomsky was born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928.
Chomsky is no fan of President Richard Nixon. But he says, without hesitation, that Trump is much worse.
"We may recall that Richard Nixon, not exactly revered for his integrity, had some reason to suppose that victory in the 1960 election had been stolen from him by Democratic Party machinations," Chomsky told Polychroniou. "He did not challenge the results, placing the welfare of the country above personal ambition. Al Gore did the same in 2020. The idea of Trump placing anything above his personal ambition — even caring about the welfare of the country — is too ludicrous to discuss."
Trump's authoritarianism, according to Chomsky, was painfully evident during recent anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon. Chomsky observed, "When Trump decided to terrorize Portland, Oregon, he didn't send the military, probably expecting that it would refuse to follow his orders, as had just happened in Washington, D.C. He sent paramilitaries, the most fierce of them the tactical unit BORTAC of the Border Patrol, which is given virtually free rein with the 'damned of the earth' as its targets."
To make matters worse, Chomsky added, Trump's "private army" also includes well-armed militia groups, domestic terrorists and white nationalists. Chomsky warned, "Those are the forces that may be upholding 'law and order' if, in fact, the top military command decides to be 'complicit in a coup d'état.' It seems unimaginable, but regrettably, not inconceivable."
The left-wing author added, "Meanwhile, Trump and his Republican cohorts are working overtime to implement their strategy of undermining the election or discrediting it if it comes out the wrong way, setting the stage for a possible coup. In preparation, an 'army for Trump' is being mobilized to descend on polls to intimidate the wrong voters."
Trump, Chomsky told Polychroniou, considers Biden's supporters "the wrong voters" and will go to great lengths to bully them or have their votes thrown out.
Chomsky noted that a tide of nationalist authoritarianism is making its presence felt all around the world, from President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. But according to Chomsky, the U.S. is worse off than Brazil from a checks-and-balances standpoint because at least Bolsonaro was "blocked" by the Brazilian Supreme Court.
The author told Polychroniou: "The U.S. has gone farther down the road toward autocracy (than Brazil). When inspectors general tasked with overseeing executive malfeasance followed the same course, the would-be dictator in the White House simply fired them. He did so without a peep from the Republican Senate."